How does compression therapy work?
Compression therapy means wearing compression garments designed and applied to fit your limb's size and shape. In contrast to lymphoedema, a pure lipoedema does not include fluid in the tissue. The buildup of fatty tissue is known to cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, compression therapy for lipoedema has a different purpose.
Compression therapy for lipoedema helps to:
- Improve your signs and symptoms, especially pain and discomfort;
- Support the tissue of your limbs; and
- Improve your mobility because skin flaps don't rub against each other
However, compression therapy does not change the size and shape of your limb. This is important to know because you may be disappointed at the first stage.
It is not completely understood how compression therapy improves pain and discomfort. However, compression therapy is supposed to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the fatty tissue, improves blood circulation, and reduces oxidative stress. Therefore, compression therapy probably reduces the pain caused by inflammatory processes and a lack of oxygen in your fatty tissue.
Compression therapy combined with exercise is even more effective, as exercise has an anti-inflammatory effect as well. Especially physical activity in water, like swimming or aqua aerobics, shows an improvement to lipoedema symptoms.
What type of compression therapy is best for lipoedema?
Flat-knit compression garments are the preferred garment type for lipoedema treatment: they are more comfortable and seem to be more effective. Depending on the extent of your lipoedema, there are different options of compression garments, such as stockings, leggings, or pants. Your individual condition determines what kind of garment and which compression class is required.
Compression bandages are usually not used in pure lipoedema patients. However, depending on the severity of your symptoms or accompanying lymphoedema, other compression garments or even bandages might be beneficial.
You can learn more about the different types of compression here
What do I need to pay attention to?
In general, compression therapy is very safe and has been used for decades. With some exceptions, it can be used in the vast majority of patients. Your healthcare professional (HCP) should be aware of any exceptions.
There are a few warning signs that point to inappropriate application of your compression garments or bandages. These are pain, discomfort, changes in your skin colour, or tingling or numbness of your toes and fingers. If you notice one or more of these symptoms, move your limb or remove the garment if moving does not help. If the symptoms do not resolve after a while, you should completely remove the compression garment and contact your HCP.
Compression therapy also stresses your skin, and it is important to maintain good skin care.
Up nextLipoedema and Exercise
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