Compression garments can be used prophylactically and to maintain lymphedema treatment benefits. However, these garments can be counter-productive if not used correctly.
Lymphedema, swelling from the build-up of lymph fluid, does not get better on its own. Left untreated it only gets worse. Compression garments are part of the treatment process and need to be used correctly.
Here are 7 things you need to know before you buy a compression garment:
1. Breast Cancer Treatment and Compression Garments
Breast Cancer survivors are at a greater risk of developing lymphedema in their upper extremities. The types of compression garments you may be recommended include:
- Sleeve (worn on the arm)
- Glove / Gauntlet (worn on the hand)
- Support Bra / Vest
2. Understand How Compression Garments Work
Compression garments apply pressure in a gradient manner to pull fluid away from the area of build-up. As such you will find they are tighter at certain points in the garment.
NOTE: They are not only necessary for lymphedema management but can be of great benefit for anyone. See 5 Surprising Benefits of Compression Garments for a Healthy Lifestyle.
3. You Need the Correct Grade of Compression
Compression garments come in different grades of pressure measured in mmHg.
Wearing a garment that is too light in pressure won’t control the lymphedema. Conversely wearing a garment that is too tight, can trigger lymphedema or make it worse.
- 10-15 mmHg
- 15-20 mmHg
- 20-30 mmHg
- 30-40 mmHg
- 40-50 mmHg
- 50+ mmHg
A prescription is required for garments 20 mmHg and up.
4. Know When You Need to Wear a Compression Garment
- Preventative / Prophylactic:
Compression garments may prevent the onset of lymphedema if worn prophylactically. If you’re undergoing breast cancer treatment, for example, you may want to wear a compression sleeve as a preventative to developing lymphedema.
- Management / Preservation:
Compression garments must be part of an overall treatment plan for lymphedema. They cannot reduce lymphedema on their own. Treatment like manual lymphatic drainage massages lymph out of the area to reduce pain and swelling. Compression wraps and garments help maintain the benefits of the treatment.
- Special Occasions / Activities:
For example, air travel can trigger lymphedema or make it worse. Ask your doctor if you should wear a compression sleeve for flying, what type you need, and for how long to wear it. (It is generally best to leave your garment on for a few hours after you’ve landed and not take it off immediately.)
Some garments are to be worn during the day only, others both day and night, others are just for the night. Then there are different types of garments depending on where you are at with your CDT (Complete Decongestive Therapy).
The use of garments varies from person-to-person which is why it’s integral to be fitted correctly and be guided by a specialist.
If you are in Ontario, we can help you apply for the government’s Assistive Devices Program (ADP) which covers up to 75% of your prescribed compression garment.Speak to a Lymphedema Specialist
5. Know When Your Garments Lose Compression
In general, compression garments that are worn daily and washed frequently should last around 4-6 months. They can over-stretch and roll if they’re not washed frequently (daily or every second day).
Elements such as sun, body oils, lotions, and perspiration all affect the lifespan of the garment. It is important to be assessed every 6 months to determine which replacement garment you need.
6. Choose Your Style!
If you’re someone who enjoys fashion, then consider choosing a garment that has a pattern/colour that you like. If you think your compression garment looks ugly, you’ll have a hard time wearing it as you should.
Here are some examples of differently styled gauntlets:
7. Have Your Garment Fitted
Never wear improperly fitted compression garments.
An improperly fitted compression garment can trigger lymphedema or make it worse.
Don’t just “buy one over-the-counter”, have your garment fitted by a Certified Compression Fitter.
A Certified Compression Fitter is trained to ascertain the right garment for your needs. Combine that with a Lymphedema Specialist and you’re in the best hands possible to help you navigate your journey with lymphedema.
At ADAPT Home Health Care, we are fortunate to have one of the only Certified Compression Fitters (who is also a Lymphedema Specialist) in the Greater Toronto Area.
Maria will fit you with the right garment and show you how to put it on and take it off.
If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, you can book a free online consultation with our Certified Lymphedema Specialist.
Have your questions answered:
- What type of compression garments do I need?
- When is it advised to NOT wear a compression garment?
- Do I need a prescription?
- How do I know this is lymphedema and not another kind of swelling?
- How do I apply for government (ADP) funding and what does it cover?
- Do my extended benefits provided extra coverage?
* ADAPT Home Health Care is an ADP Approved Vendor. Speak to one of our specialists if you’re in the GTA for more information.
About ADAPT Home Health Care
ADAPT Home Health Care is the premier provider of home health care equipment in Mississauga and Brampton with 3 convenient locations.
Our vision is to help individuals live a safe, comfortable, and independent lifestyle through the use of medical equipment and compression therapy.
We specialize in Mobility Aids (Walkers, Wheelchairs, Rollators & more), Compression Socks, Lymphedema Garments, Hospital Beds, Bathroom Safety, Bracing, Lift chairs, and much more.
Our trained Specialists will ensure you receive the best product and advice for your needs.
We are an approved government vendor to help facilitate financial assistance under the ADP Program for Rollators and Lymphedema.
We also provide rentals, delivery, and set-up services.
Let us help you and your loved ones find a solution.Speak to a Specialist