Lymphedema bandaging is a very helpful reductive therapy for those who develop lymphedema in a limb. Lymphedema most commonly occurs after lymph nodes have been removed or damaged by surgeries causing the the normal pathway of the lymph system to be degraded and remaining vessels in the body to become overloaded with fluid and swell. However, Lymphedema can also be a primary disease, causes of which are still not clear.
When excess fluid collects in any part of the limb, the best way to stimulate its movement out of the affected limb is to use this specific (and at times tricky) method of bandaging. You should always consult and work with a well-qualified lymphedema specialist to bandage the affected area to ensure maximum effectiveness. At Fluid Factor, we will provide the necessary training and assistance to make bandaging a self-care tool you can use to control and prevent flare-ups in the future. If bandaging has become too much of a daily burden, we also offer a wide range of other options to alternate with bandaging, to help with maintaining successful care of the affected area(s).
What is it made of? How does it work?
The bandage is made from several layers of material to form a soft cast that supports and places pressure on the limb. Various exercises performed while in the cast stimulate the muscles and create a pumping action that works to reduce the volume of the affected area.
Before you begin bandaging, you must thoroughly clean and moisturize the skin to prevent cracking, irritation, or infection. Then a gauge type custom cut sleeve is applied before a cotton or foam padding that forms the bulk of the wrapping is secured. Short-stretch bandages are then placed around this padding in a pattern of gradient compression. Though they look very similar, you should never use Ace bandages in place of short-stretch bandages. Short-stretch bandages offer the support and compression needed to stimulate the flow of fluid, while Ace bandages are too stretchy to provide the necessary pressure. At Fluid Factor we can direct you to the right sizes of bandage that will work best for you and provide custom padding as needed. All bandaging is specific to client needs and goals.
It is CRITICAL that your bandages be examined to determine condition, several times a year. This simple exam by a Certified Lymphedema Therapist, will assure compression standards are being met. Bandaging with a limp or severely reduced compression set of bandages is like doing nothing at all for the affected area. Especially in the heat of the desert, it is even more important to get your bandages checked by a Certified Lymphedema Therapist on a regular basis. We are happy to do that for our clients, while providing hands on education as to why this must be a part of their care protocol.
Can I just use a compression sleeve?
It is important to consult a Certified Lymphedema Therapist to determine the treatment best for you. It is not a decision a store clerk should make for you off the shelf. For some very mild cases of lymphedema, a compression sleeve can help. However, compression sleeves generally only support the natural flow of fluid in the right direction when you are resting but do little to remove excess fluid out of the affected area. Bandaging creates working pressure as you move about while sleeves use resting pressure to support circulation.
How long will I have to wear a bandage?
The length of treatment depends on your individual circumstance and recovery rate. However, while lymphedema creates edema in an area, some form of compression garment or bandage must be worn day and night. Committing to a series of Lymphatic MLD Massages will help you find relief, balance, and get you on the road to some fluid reduction with better maintenance of your condition. Our therapists will provide complimentary, re-bandage of the affected limb and examine the current quality of your bandages and or garments after each massage.
For more information about caring for your Lymphedema, or on products to use for compression, or to discuss having a Lymph Drainage Massage, contact Fluid Factor. Click here, or call today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to working with you to achieve your wellness and health goals. Our trained staff is here to help.
– Anita Bakke, LMT, CDT