Lipedema is a condition that, should it be allowed to progress, can become a very serious medical problem. Lipedema and lymphedema cannot be cured, so the focus for treatment is on procedures that can minimize the swelling, control the associated pain, and prevent the disease from getting out of control.
One of the main treatments in the arsenal of tools that can be used to treat these conditions is compression. In addition to other treatments, compression can be very effective in containing the symptoms of lipedema. Compression garments are generally prescribed to lipedema suffers following decongestive therapy to help maintain the reduction of swelling. Compression therapy will also help encourage the flow of the lymphatic fluids out of the affect limb.
Compression garments are to be worn 24 hours a day, every day. Because of this, it is important that patients are fitted correctly and use the best type of compression garment for their individual cases. An inaccurate fit or a poor quality garment can cause additional pain and discomfort.
Why Compression Garments?
There are many reasons to consider using compression garments. The underlying problem with all lymph disorder is problems circulating lymph back to the venous system. For individuals who have lipedema, lymphedema or lipo-lymphedema, compression garments are often used to assist the lymph circulation by increasing the pressure in the tissue propel lymph fluid through the body. Lymphedema causes excess fluid to become trapped in the extremities, especially the legs, and compression garments put pressure on the skin and veins, helping them clear lymph and decongest.
Besides improvement to lymphatic flow, there is some debate about compression garments’ benefits related to fat disorders, such as Lipedema. Most people with lipedema the pain tenderness are worsened by swelling and activities such standing or having the legs hand dependent that promote local swelling. Compression garments can help reduce pain and heaviness felt in the limbs from fat disorders such as lipedema by decreasing swelling in the fat and throughout the limb. Also compression potentially reduces the rate at which the fat cells grow and help to prevent fat disorders from progressing to more serious stages. In other words, compression can be one of the best treatments for lipo-lymphedema or fat caused by lymphatic diseases.
Types of Compression Garments
There are many different types of compression garments to choose from, all designed to provide slightly different benefits. You will want to discuss which type of compression garment is appropriate for you with your doctor. Some of the different types of compression garments are as follows:
- Circular & Flat Knit
- Micro Massaging
- Short Stretch
Circular & Flat Knit
These compression stockings, typically made of nylon or nylon-cotton blend, are thin stockings with multiple angles of stretchiness. Circular knit garments stretch along both the length and width of the garment, while flat knits have a seam and only stretch two directions. Large and abnormally shaped limbs typically see more benefits from flat knit style garments; additionally, flat knit’s thicker design provides a slightly more comfortable fit.
These garments, made from non-stretch material, mimic the effects of bandage wrapping techniques. The thought process behind use of inelastic garments is that preventing swelling requires a garment that cannot be stretched. While other types of compression garment allow the limb a small amount of stretching, inelastic garments use Velcro to lock into place.
The micro massaging compression garments use a textured knit material to micro massage the lymphatics through movement of the top layer of skin. As you move in these garments, it stretches the top layer of skin, massaging the lymphatics below. These garments have the lowest compression and the most stretchiness of any compression garments, and it is debated whether the micro massaging benefit outweighs the lack of a stronger compression. In early lipedema the micro massaging compression garment like bioflex can provide good relief.
For some patients, wearing compression garments throughout the day is not wholly effective. For these patients, nighttime garments can help. These are thicker padded garments aimed at reducing nightly swelling and breaking up fibrotic tissues. Frequently made with spandex wicking fibers, these garments take some time to get used to, as their bulkiness can be disruptive to sleeping for new wearers.
Contact us today to learn more about Lipedema treatments (alternate spellings Lipoedema, lipodema, and lipodem) and what you can do to improve your symptoms!
For more information on Lipedema please visit FatDisorders.org Lipedema Groups for some valuable information.