First let me say, one garment is NOT better than the other. Each takes a different approach to dealing with swelling and discomfort. The question is, which type of compression garment is best for managing your condition long term? With conditions such as lymphedema, consistently wearing compression garments is very important to help keep fluid from building up in your tissues. The more stagnant fluid that builds up, the more your condition will go from being something frustrating (but dealable) to something completely life debilitating.
The Quick and Dirty On Your Lymphatic System
Within your body, tiny blood vessels under your skin provide a constant flow of fluid into your tissues, bringing oxygen and nutrients to your cells. Once the fluid has completed this job, it then helps remove waste, large proteins and bacteria. This is where your superficial lymphatic system comes into play. It helps remove the fluid from your tissues which then moves into your deeper lymphatic system to be cleaned (by passing through nodes) and finally returned to your circulatory system to start the process again.
Here’s What Traditional Compression Garments Do:
The goal of traditional compression garments is to use strong pressure to constrict affected area. This helps keep stagnant fluid from building up in your tissues. The graduated compression (more pressure at the furthest point then slowly decreasing as it goes up) helps propel fluid through the deeper lymphatic and venous channels to improve circulation.
In relation to swelling reduction, traditional compression garments are meant to help maintain the gains made during therapy and/or keep the affected area from increasing in size.
They are not designed to reduce swelling although this can happen.
Who is Traditional Compression Garments Best For?
Traditional compression garments are helpful for people who have very limited lymphatic function (not easy to control the swelling). Your body needs help keeping as much excess fluid out of the affected area as possible. Without the mechanisms to get that fluid out, your affected area will continue to swell.
Also, if you require custom garments to fit your affected area, than traditional compression garments are for you.
“I developed secondary lymphedema from cancer treatments. Even though I’ve had nodes removed and a number of surgeries, my lymphatic system is still functioning, just at a lesser capacity. I do a combination of self care and MLD to help stimulate and improve my overall lymphatic function, which keeps my swelling down. It doesn’t make sense to me why I would use a compression garment that is designed to stop what I’ve started. The pressure exerted by traditional compression garments collapse vessels within my superficial lymphatic system, further impairing my already compromised system. Not to mention my concern, by restricting the fluid flow out of my bloodstream, my cells are not receiving the oxygen and nutrients needed to help keep them healthy.” ~ Sue Callison
Here’s What Active Massage® Compression Garments Do:
If you’ve had MLD (manual lymph drainage massage) you know how light this massage is. It's a light touch because the practitioner is actively working to manipulate your superficial lymphatic system, which lies just beneath your skin. This aspect of the lymphatic system covers your entire body and is extremely important in removing the excess waste filled fluid from your tissues. It runs on very low pressure, so too much pressure can actually collapse these vessels, leaving them unable to fully do their job.The goal of MLD massage is to clear lymphatic pathways, help lymphatic capillaries take in fluid and lastly, redirect fluid from areas with inadequate lymphatics to areas with adequate lymphatics.
Active Massage® compression garments are designed to support the natural function of your lymphatic system similar to the principles of MLD. They manually help stimulate working superficial lymphatic vessels to support lymph drainage and reduce swelling.
Active Massage®compression garments are a two-part system that work hand in hand.
Part 1: A patented 3D stretch, raised wave knit on the interior of the fabric is what makes the Active Massage® compression garments so different from traditional compression garments.
Part 2: By combining the 3D stretch, raised wave knit with mild graduated compression (maximum compression of 18/21 mmHg), the pattern imprints on your skin. Through natural body movement, the uneven pressure caused by this combination creates the massage effect similar to MLD.
Why is Active Massage® Not Available In a Higher Compression?
You will not find high compression in Active Massage® compression garments because the two-part system is working to enhance fluid movement through the superficial lymphatic capillaries and vessels. Again, these vessels run on very low pressure so, too much compression can actually cause them to collapse, leaving the vessels unable to fully do their job.
The focus of traditional compression garments is to use high compression to contain the affected area and hold the swelling. The focus of Active Massage® compression garments is to use the patented 3D stretch, wave knit on the inside of the fabric to help move fluid and reduce swelling and discomfort.
Who is Active Massage® Compression Best For?
Active Massage® compression garments are best for people who’s lymphatic system is impaired but still functioning. This is a common occurrence in secondary lymphedema when your lymphatic system has been permanently damaged by surgery, radiation and/ or other types of trauma.
An individual must be able to move around in order to receive the massage effect created by the Active Massage® compression garments.