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Compression garments for lymphoedema

The most effective compression garments for lymphoedema are those that are intended to offer the correct amount of compression. There are numerous types and styles of compression garments on the market, so it is important to speak with a Doctor or your Lymphoedema Practitioner to choose the best compression solution for you.

In the blog post below you will learn what the different types of compression garments are and our recommendations of some highly respected brands.

You can think of compression garments like medication for your legs or arms. It is the most researched modality – meaning that the scientific evidence supports that compression works.

What will I learn about?

Compression garments.

Who is this for?

Anyone with chronic swelling.

Time to read

10 minutes if you watch the video.

Learn from Professor Neil Piller

Professor Neil Piller is a Lymphologist from Flinders University. a Lymphologist is an expert on lymphoedema.

In this video, of 3 minutes and 27 sec duration, you will learn about the different types of compression therapy.

When Professor Piller refers to “proximal” this means the top of your leg or arm. Compression garments will do a very good job of squeezing fluid out of your arm or leg (in other words moving it proximally) but it needs somewhere to drain to.

“Emptying the buckets” refers to clearing the lymph nodes that are responsible for draining lymph fluid so that the fluid in your swollen limb has somewhere to go.

Professional compression includes bandages, compression garments and pumps.

Why use compression for lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a condition that can cause swelling and pain in the arms or legs. It can be challenging to find clothing that fits properly and offers the required support.

Compression garments are an integral component of lymphoedema treatment, and they can help reduce swelling and can help stop infections related to lymphoedema, known as cellulitis.

What effect do compression garments on cellulitis?

Cellulitis is a bacterial infection and can potentially become life-threatening if left untreated.

In a research study of conducted in Canberra Australia in 2019 on patients with chronic swelling, half of the group were offered compression garments and half were not. The patients in the study had a history of two or more episodes of cellulitis in the same leg in the 2 years before referral to the trial and had swelling lasting longer than 3 months in one or both legs. The study was stopped as so many of the patients without compression garments were hospitalised for cellulitis.

Compression garments are shown to stop cellulitis in patients with chronic swelling.

What are the different types of compression garments?

There are two types of compression: non professional and professional.

Non-professional is like brands such as “Skins” that hug the tissues but do not provide a therapeutic level of compression. These garments are not TGA registered or recognized as “medical devices”.

Professional compression are brands that are recognised as “medical devices.” They will need to be registered with the TGA and sold by reputable Australian companies.

Professional compression garments are scientifically researched to provide graduated compression which means they move fluid from distal to proximal which means from far away to the centre of the limb. In other words for the arm, they squeeze the wrist tighter than the top of the arm and for the leg, they squeeze the ankle more than the thigh.

What is the TGA?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is part of the Australian Government Department of Health– external site, and is responsible for regulating therapeutic goods including prescription medicines, vaccines, sunscreens, vitamins and minerals, medical devices, blood and blood products.

All professional compression garments must be TGA registered.

You should never buy your garments from non-reputable sources. If you are in doubt, ask your supplier if their products are TGA registered.

What are the different types of professional compression fabrics?

The different types of professional compression garments are:

  1. Circular knit garments – used for early lymphoedema. Most of these garments are available as off the shelf or ready to wear products. They are highly stretchy products.
  2. Flat knit garments – used for moderate to severe lymphoedema
  3. Powernet lycra garments – used when wounds are present due to zippers being needed
  4. Wraps – used when you need help putting on and taking off garments as they have Velcro straps
  5. Pumps – used instead of compression garments or with compression garments
  6. Garments for fibrosis – used to soften your tissues. These garments can be made from fabric similar to the fabrics in 1 to 3 but include pieces of foam designed to leave bumps in the tissues. Think of it like the swollen area being attacked by a quilt. The bumps don’t last long. They are designed to soften hard areas caused by fibrosis.

Circular

2 sets every 6 months $90 +

Per MonthStretchy garments knitted on a circular knit machine in a tubular fashion.

Flat knit

2 sets every 6 months $250 +

Per MonthKnitted on a machine like knitting a jumper row by row.

Wraps

2 sets every 6 months $250 +

Per MonthElastic fabrics that usually have Velcro used to form a rigid sleeve.

Pumps

1 pump will last years $3000 +

Per MonthPumps are sleeves that inflate with air in a special pattern.

Powernet

2 sets every 6 months $500 +

Per MonthLike swimming costume material (lycra) with different gram tensions.

Trusted compression brands

There are numerous lymphoedema compression garments on the market that claim to be the most effective. That’s where we come in.  We’ve developed a list of respected lymphoedema brands. These companies attend Australian lymphology conferences and support lymphoedema education.

The most effective lymphoedema compression garments are medically graded and TGA registered. You can think of the TGA like the FDA in America. It means that the garments must meet certain testing standards for effectiveness and quality.

Several compression garments available on the market can assist with lymphoedema.

Some respected garment brands are listed below:

  1. Sigvaris  – well known are the Traditional and Cotton garments
  2. Essity – well known as the Jobst garments
  3. Haddenham – well known is the Goldpunkt and Pertex garments
  4. Medi – well known are the Medi550 garments
  5. Thusane – well known is the Mobiderm products

See an example of Sigvaris Circular Knit garments below. You can SHOP for them here.