The management of lymphoedema can involve the use of compression in various forms. The most commonly utilised ones in our clinic are specialised compression garments and occasionally multi-layer bandaging.
Compression is used to help maintain the reduction of accumulated lymph obtained from lymphatic massage or low level laser therapy. It helps to reduce leakage of lymph from the blood vessels into the tissue spaces.
Compression provides a firm pressure for muscles to work against so that lymph transport is enhanced. If fibrosis has developed, compression also helps to soften the tissue and improve overall limb shape.
Compression garments are often prescribed for patients undertaking flight travel, as the low cabin pressure may allow more fluid to accumulate in tissue spaces.
There are many different styles and degrees of compression to be considered in choosing the right garment, and our experienced therapists will advise you in this decision making process.
Occasionally multi-layer bandaging may be required to reduce excessive amounts of swelling quickly, particularly if there is significant fibrosis or hardening of tissues. Often several sessions of low level laser therapy are used to soften tissues before bandaging is applied.
Layers of padding and short-stretch bandages are used to wrap the limb for a day or two before being reapplied. Bandaging may continue for up to a week before compression garments are then used to maintain the reduction achieved.
Bandaged limbs are bulky and can be cumbersome and for this reason it is only used for short-term management. Our philosophy is to manage lymphoedema, whenever possible, with strategies that have less negative impact on lifestyle. We believe early intervention and education minimises the need for aggressive interventional methods.