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Choosing Lymphedema Compression Garments

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Lymphedema treatment is a way to manage the swelling that results when the lymphatic system in the body does not drain properly. Similar to the blood vessels, lymphatic ducts carry protein-rich lymph fluids throughout the body.

These ducts may be removed because of surgery, damaged by injury or impaired by disease. Compression garments are an important component of lymphedema treatment.

Lymphedema Treatment and Graduated Compression

In order to move the lymphatic fluid and help it drain, compression garments are made to apply more compression farther away from the heart, with decreased compression nearer to the heart. This helps promote proper drainage.

Graduated compression is particularly important for lower extremity compression garments such as socks and stockings, as they must work against the effects of gravity while you stand, sit or walk.

Compression garments are available for the torso, head and neck, arms and legs. Compression garments come different fabric types and in varying lengths.

Choosing Compression Garments

Correct fit is the most important aspect of lymphedema treatment with compression garments. Garments that are too loose are not effective, while garments that are too tight are uncomfortable and may even cause tissue damage or impair circulation.

A skilled technician or therapist will take careful measurements of the area that needs treatment to ensure the garments fit properly. Some garments are custom-made, while others are adjustable or sized like regular clothing. Always try on your garments under professional supervision when you wear them for the first time.

If you need lymphedema treatment, please contact a lymphedema therapist. Physical and occupational therapists and certified lymphedema therapists will help you choose and fit your compression garments for maximum benefit and comfort.

Carolyn Bilyeu

The author Carolyn Bilyeu