Compression Garments for Lipedema

Lipedema causes a buildup of subcutaneous fat tissue that will lead to swelling and pain. Living with these symptoms can be difficult and impact your everyday mobility. Swelling is a common symptom of lipedema which can be treated at every stage. The swelling and fluid buildup is primarily due to extracellular water that keeps building throughout the different stages of lipedema. A multidisciplinary approach is always recommended for those dealing with this condition. The most common forms of treatment may include lymphatic drainage along with medical grade compression. These types of garments specifically work to relieve individuals of the many symptoms of lipedema, especially as they keep building during later stages. Let’s take a look at how compression therapy can improve your treatment for lipedema:

The Goal with Compression

Wearing compression stockings will help you find relief when you need it the most. Prescribing compression sleeves works to help you achieve three different goals. The first of these goals is to help you find relief from discomfort and aching while helping to improve your overall tissue health. The second goal is to help you improve uneven or distorted shapes to your limbs. The third and final goal is to you help you reduce edema and help your interstitial fluid properly drain. Achieving these three goals will help your body handle and hopefully reduce the many symptoms of lipedema. One of the most common forms of therapy is with compression sleeves. Compression therapy is relatively low cost and can help you treat lobules along with wrist and ankle cuffs. Wearing them might be critical to help with your overall mobility.

Reduce Additional Symptoms of Lipedema

While we still do not know exactly what causes lipedema, we do know that the lymphatic system is critical in its development. Medical research shows that medical grade compression is able to prevent lipedema symptoms from getting worse. Wearing compression sleeves can optimize your lymphatic system making sure interstitial fluids are properly drained. When these fluids and proteins build up it can cause lobular fibrosis, nodular fibrosis, and progress dermal fibrosis. Further risks of lipedema and continue to develop possibly causing disability.

Current Types of Compression

Your physician will choose from a variety forms of compression sleeves for your therapy. The most common prescribed form of compression is graduated. A graduated compression sleeve works by having high pressure at the end of the sleeve with lower pressure further up the sleeve. Specifically, you will see a 100% compression around the ankle or wrist. Further up the arm or leg you will find 70% compression around the calf and forearm before the compression drops to 40% around your thigh or upper arm. This type of compression coverage makes sure that pressure is applied up the limb to improve lymphatic flow. Compression sleeves are often medical grade making sure they are prescribed by your physician and have the appropriate strength to them. Graduated compression sleeves are able to treat moderate and high levels of edema associated with lipedema.

As shown the compression strength will vary with our arms and legs; specifically, our arms require less compression strength than required for our legs. For our arms there is a typical compression strength of 18-20 mmHg while our legs have a typical compression strength of 30-40 mmHg. These strengths are specific to help improve your lymphatic flow. Lower level compression will be recommended first around 20-30 mmHg before higher levels are recommended. In the end, a recommended strength of 30-40 mmHg is typically used to help reduce any symptoms of lipedema.

Commercial Grade Compression

As mentioned, your physician will typically recommend a lower strength of compression for your initial treatment. You can often find these lower compression sleeves at your pharmacy with brands such as Marena, Bioflect, and Copper Fit. Compression strength will be increased when recommended by your physician. In the end extended stages of lipedema will be treated with medical grade compression.

Special Considerations for your Compression

There is much to benefit from when you properly utilize your compression sleeves. Unfortunately, wearing compression sleeves can be difficult especially for women with lipedema. The disproportionate fat tissue can make it extremely difficult to put them on. One great way to benefit from compression therapy is by wearing them in layers. This way you can layer up different compression sleeves over one another for full coverage. One way to do that for your legs is to wear compression shorts with knee high compression socks. Both of these garments allow full compression coverage across your legs. Make sure to discuss your compression needs with your physician to ensure proper coverage. As you can see compression therapy has a lot to entail with many benefits that will help you with your fight again lipedema.