32 thoughts on “Compression Sleeves For Lymphedema

  1. I have mild-moderate Lymphedema in my arms. How can I reduce or get rid of it?
    My doctor said it wasn’t anything serious,just some localized fluid retention, but that it would explain my unusually “large” arms. Should I use like, slimming gel or shapewear or something to help reduce it or get rid of it?

    • 1) lymphedema massage by a good Physical therapist
      2) compression sleeves
      3) a pneumatic compression pump

  2. what causes lymphedema and is it due to the lose of lymphnodes?
    umm so i have lymphedema and my doctors told me it was be because i wasnt born with enough lymphnodes i developed lymphedema when i was 8 i am now 14 and i want some real facts also any good websites to go to for lymphedema???

    • Lymphedema (also see Elephantiasis) may be inherited (primary) or caused by injury to the lymphatic vessels (secondary). It is most frequently seen after lymph node dissection, surgery and/or radiation therapy, in which damage to the lymphatic system is caused during the treatment of cancer, most notably breast cancer. In many patients with cancer this condition does not develop until months or even years after therapy has concluded. Lymphedema may also be associated with accidents or certain diseases or problems that may inhibit the lymphatic system from functioning properly. In tropical areas of the world, a common cause of secondary lymphedema is filariasis, a parasitic infection. It can also be caused by a compromising of the lymphatic system resulting from cellulitis.

      While the exact cause of primary lymphedema is still unknown, it generally occurs due to poorly-developed or missing lymph nodes and/or channels in the body. Lymphedema may be present at birth, develop at the onset of puberty (praecox), or not become apparent for many years into adulthood (tarda). Some cases of lymphedema may be associated with other vascular abnormalities. Lymphedema affects both men and women. In women, it is most prevalent in the upper limbs after breast cancer surgery and lymph node dissection, occurring in the arm on the side of the body in which the surgery is performed. It may also occur in the lower limbs or groin after surgery for colon, ovarian or uterine cancer in which removal of lymph nodes is required. In men, lower-limb primary lymphedema is most common, occurring in one or both legs. Surgery and/or treatment for prostate, colon and testicular cancers may result in secondary lymphedema, particularly where lymph nodes have been removed or damaged.

      The onset of secondary lymphedema in patients who have had cancer surgery has also been linked to aircraft flight (likely due to decreased cabin pressure). For breast cancer survivors, wearing a prescribed and properly-fitted low-compression sleeve and gauntlet may help decrease swelling during flight.

      Some cases of lower-limb lymphedema have been associated with the use of Tamoxifen, due to the blood clots and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that can be caused by this medication.

  3. Recently diagnosed with Lyphedema. No cancer history. Help!?
    After broken leg I was diagnosed with Lymphedema.
    The pain is difficult to work around.
    As stated, I have no history of cancer and all the information I found on internet was linked to cancer.
    I am looking for information on treatments and prognosis.
    Will I always feel so incapacitated?

    All this is scrambling my few remaining brain cells.
    God! I don’t want this.

  4. Are compression sleeves necessary for breast cancer survivors taking airplane?
    My mother is a breast cancer survivor and had her lymph nodes removed 6 years ago. She’ll be taking a trip soon, which requires a 3-hour flight. Her doctor said she doesn’t need to get fitted for compression sleeves for a flight of that duration. But our relative who’s a nurse said that even though it’s been 6 years, my mother should actually still wear the sleeves or she’ll risk getting lymphedema. So now, my mother’s feeling a bit nervous about the trip. Are compression sleeves an absolute necessity for her, especially since it’s been 6 years since her lymph nodes were removed?

    • I think your relative is being over cautious. Though she’s correct in saying the risk of lymphoedema is life-long, and your mother should continue to take every precaution against it.

      Breastcancer.org say it isn’t necessary to wear a sleeve when flying unless you already have arm swelling – scroll about half way down


  5. Question about lymphedema sleeve?
    I am a breast cancer patient that had lymph nodes removed. Now I have mild lymphedema. My doctor had me fitted for a lymphedema sleeve and gauntlet. Is this sleeve suppose to cut off the circulation in my arm and hand? It seems like since I have been wearing it the swelling has increased not gotten better. I also use a stress ball that seems to work the best of all.

    • Lymphedema sleeves generally don’t do much to help reduce the swelling, they just prevent it getting worse. They help more for prevention, in my experience, than with reduction of swelling you already have. Compression (elastic) bandages work better for that. It’s just they are harder to get on than compression sleeves, and most doctors will start with them. If you have a lot of edema, it may be you will need either manual drainage, or a pneumatic pump assisted drainage. Trouble is, with the manual drainage you need a physical therapist that is trained and experienced in doing that, and both methods are expensive. You can usually rent the pump from a medical supply store though, and most insurance plans will pay for one that is prescribed by your doctor. Pump treatment takes about 2 hours a day, but if you are committed to it, it can be quite helpful in managing edema. In some cases, once you have relieved the swelling with the pump, you can use the sleeve to prevent it getting so bad again. The sleeve should not be cutting off your circulation to the lower arm either, and you should have two of them. You should have one to wear, and one spare so you can wash and dry them, and swap them out every couple of days. It should also not make the swelling worse. It sounds like you need to speak with your doctor and physical therapist again, as soon as you can do it. In the meantime it might be best to not wear the sleeve and return to elevating the arm and doing the exercises you should have been taught. If you can go swimming, that is an excellent way to help as well. You can wear an older sleeve while swimming, and between the motion of the arm swimming and the pressure of the water, you may see some improvement in that arm swelling. At any rate, you need to see your doctor again. I’d ask about the pump, at least for a while, too.

  6. will medicaid/medicare pay for lymphedema therapy?
    I can’t afford insurance at this time, neither can I afford to pay out of pocket.

    • It may depend on the state… I would suggest calling the human resources office for your local Dept of Children and Families and ask if they cover it. If you already have medicaid/medicare, you should have a certain person assigned to your case. Here’s what I found online:

      The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Sevices revised Section 60-16 of the Medicare Coverage Manual regarding the use of lymphedema pumps. Medicare will not cover pneumatic compression devices as an initial therapy for lymphedema in the home setting. A patient must first undergo a four-week trial of conservative therapy, which includes the use of an appropriate compression garment, exercise and elevation. This garment does not need to be custom-fabricated; however, it does need to be a graduated compression stocking/sleeve. A pneumatic compression device is covered if a physician determines after such a trial that there has been no significant improvement, or if significant symptoms remain.

  7. Natural help for lymphatic drainage due to lymph node removal (Post-Mastectomy Lymphedema)?
    My grandmother had her lymph nodes removed along with her mastectomy and has developed Post Mastectomy Lymphedema. Her left arm is extremely swollen with fluids. She was told to massage it and try to keep it elevated. I have been searching for “natural” ways to help her with this. I know that grapefruit oil is supposed to help with the fluid buildup and I saw this forum saying that castor oil helped with swollen lymph nodes. I was wondering if castor oil could be used as a carrier oil. Would this help with her drainage like it does for the swollen lymph nodes??? Also are there blends that are more effective than grapefruit oil alone? If so what are the amounts that should be used?

    • Use the castor oil as a carrier with grapefruit oil (test a small amount of grapefruit oil first for sensitivity or allergic reaction, 4- 10drops) the massage is the most beneficial and oils would help immensely.
      As you stated keeping the arm elevated above her heartline would be most benficial and wearing a customised compression sleeve or elastic bandage may help to prevent more accumulation of fluid.
      Exercise is of paramount importance for drainage and the Physio will expalin which ones.
      And reduce salt intake.

  8. Is there an online support group for women with edema from breast cancer?
    My 66 year old mother starts physical therapy today. She had cancer almost 15 years ago and was shocked that it developed so late after her treatments! Her physical therapist is very nice and well informed but I think it’d be beneficial for her to talk to others with this condition. She has it in her hand and her arm (mostly in her hand though). Her hand is like 3x normal size. I know it really bothers her. She was not happy to learn that she has to wear a wrap or sleeve almost 20 hours every day. I feel so bad for her. I thought the support group might help.

    • What your mom has is called “lymphedema.” My mom had it, too, years after her breast cancer had been treated. Physical therapy and the compression sleeve helped a little, and she said it wasn’t painful, but the way it affected her appearance made her sad. You are sweet to do this research to help your mom. I found a page for you from the National Lymphedema Network where local and online support groups are listed: http://www.lymphnet.org/patients/supportGroups.htm. Hope this helps.

      P.S. Looks like the full URL isn’t showing up. The end of the web address should read “patients/supportGroups.htm”

  9. anyone out there suffering from lymphedema?
    its quite possible I have it, what do I need to know?

  10. where can I purchase a breast prosthesis in chicago?
    I have a relative whos visiting from out of state and shes in need of a new breast prosthesis does anyone know where in chicago we can purchase one, not online she needs it right away thank you

  11. A Cancer person has water retantion on the right arms.is there any solution to get the water out?
    She cancer relapse after 6years.her right arm,lip nodes has been taken out 6years back, but now her right arm has bockage and has water retantion and her right arm is very big.Is there ther any solution for her case? cause her docter is not doing anything

    • Arm edema after breast cancer surgery and radiation therapy is one of these sequelae . Arm edema in the breast cancer patient is caused by interruption of the axillary lymphatic system by surgery or radiation therapy, which results in the accumulation of fluid in subcutaneous tissue in the arm, with decreased distensibility of tissue around the joints and increased weight of the extremity ). Chronic inflammatory changes result in both subcutaneous and lymph vessel fibrosis

      Therapies are often used in combination.
      Therapies used include the following: elevation, massage and exercise with and without compression sleeve, standard elastic sleeve, standard elastic sleeve with and without electrically stimulated lymphatic drainage, uniform pneumatic compression, sequential compression using hydrostatic pressure of mercury, complex physical therapy, complex physical therapy and sequential pneumatic compression, liposuction followed by custom compression garment, and surgical excision and lymphatico-venous shunt.
      Benzopyrones, flavonoids, antibiotics, and diuretics have been used in the treatment of lymphedema .

  12. After having had a mastectomy due to breast cancer, i have developed lymphoedma?
    dont know to much about it am to my local harris hospice to hav a sleeve fitted on my arm,which i’m not to sure about i assume asleeve is some sort of support? has anyone had this?

  13. What specific exercises can one do for Lymphedema?
    I would like in home exercises that dont take much time and effort

    • It depends on what activities you are capable of doing and how severe your lymphedema is. Try to keep your arm elevated as much as possible so that the liquid has a better chance of draining out of the arm. Even just moving your arm a little can help. A doctor recommended arm circles, bending the arm gently, and light weights if possible. The idea is to keep the arm moving because it helps to keep the fluid from building up. My grandmother had severe lymphedema from breast cancer, and she was old and unable to move her arm. It eventually swelled up to about three times its normal size due to inactivity. I’m definitely not trying to scare you! It’s great that you are exploring exercise options so that it doesn’t get to that point. Yes, compression sleeves will help. I suggest getting one specially fitted from a health care supply store rather than a one size fits all version. It costs a bit more, but from my experience it works much better. I also read somewhere that if excessive heat is applied to the arm, it can increase swelling. I cannot say if this is really true, as it varies from person to person. There isn’t a cure for lymphedema, but you can treat the symptoms. Best of luck!

  14. Can I still donate plasma even though I’ve had a blood clot in the past?
    About a year and a half ago, I developed a blood clot in one of the major veins in my arm for unknown reasons. I had surgery to remove it, but the procedure was complicated because the anti-clotting drugs they gave me caused me to have internal bleeding. However, I recovered from this, and was told that I wouldn’t have to worry about the clot in the future, other than wearing a compression sleeve to take care of some minor lymphedema. Recently I was interested in donating plasma to make some extra money, and I was wondering if was still okay to donate even though this happened to me?

    • Hi there, this would depend on a few things. What did they tell you about your lymphedema? Have they determined if you are a primary lymphedema patient which means you were born with the condition and it just surfaced as a result of the procedure you had? OR did they remove any nodes and are you a secondary lymphedema patient?

      With lymphedema you have to be very careful of any needle blood draws, blood pressure cuffs, surgeries, etc. You are at a higher risk for infection and also to worsen lymphedema or cause it in other areas due to trauma’s.

      I would definitely ask about the procedure what the plasma involves, then let me know and I can let you know more of a knowledgeable decision, also it depends where they dor the plasma removal in comparison to where your lymphedema is.


  15. I have had slight swelling in my left arm due to lymphedema from breast cancer surgery 4.5 years ago.?
    I “baby” my arm, so it is very weak compared to my other arm. It flairs up occassionally. I also have tennis elbow due to an injury years ago. The swelling is right in the elbow area (not sure if there is a correlation.) I am only 38, and want to do martial arts training, which entails wearing tight hand wraps and boxing gloves, not to mention a lot of punching, etc. Will this only aggravate the symptoms? I plan to contact my doctor this week before continuing, but just wanted to see if anyone else has lymphedema and boxes. THANKS.

    • GREETINGS Nboo:

      I’m Tina and I also have lymphedema in the arm and am a cancer survivor. What treatment have you had for the lymphedema?

      You are not going to be able to wear tight hand wraps but what you can do is get prescribed a compression sleeve and glove and wear those instead of the hand wraps and the boxing glove would fit over them. I would not just start martial arts without complete/complex decongestive therapy first and since you say the arm has been babied, some physical therapy to strengthen the muscles. Many studies are being done with dragon boat racing at the moment, it actually has helped women with lymphedema from cancer keep the swelling out of their arms and strengthen the arms as well.

      You have to make sure your doctor knows what lymphedema is, how to treat it, do’s and don’ts, ect, not all doctors are educated about our condition there are alot of them that prescribe diuretics and those can be dangerous because they push out the water part of lymph and leave the debris. The debris harden and cause fibrosis which blocks the lymph more and it’s a vicious cycle.

      You also want to learn all you can about the lymphedema. For example, it’s not “just your arm”. For lymphedema to show up there has to be a blockage and stagnation of about 70% of the system, gravity will pull the swelling to the arms and legs because they are the lowest points of gravity, that’s why at night when you lay down, swelling goes down.

      You will have to just try the martial arts and see what happens. Some women do fine with boxing, rowing, and sports activities, and some do not, it’s how it affects your body.

      Learn about infections, injuries and what you can do to prevent them.

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