Question 1: What type of lymphedema do you have?
Primary lymphedema - born with an impaired lymphatic system.
Secondary lymphedema - brought on as a result of another condition or disease which causes permanent damage to your lymphatic system. This most often occurs from cancer treatments (lymph node removal and/or radiation), cancer, trauma, injury or infection.
Active Massage® compression garments are most effective for managing secondary lymphedema when the lymphatic system is impaired but functioning. For primary lymphedema the results will depend on where the deficit exists in your lymphatic system.
Active Massage® compression garments are designed to help support the natural action of your lymphatic system. If part of this system is missing or damaged, the hope is, there are still functioning lymphatics that can help move fluid.*
* How well Active Massage compression garments will work for you depends on how well your lymphatic system is functioning in the affected area.
Question 2: What stage is your lymphedema?
Prevention: The risk for lymphedema exists but you are not experiencing any symptoms.
Stage 0 (also called subclinical or latent): There’s no visible swelling in the the affected area but, you experience sensations such as tingling, weakness, tiredness, heaviness and/or discomfort. You can have stage 0 lymphedema for some time before visible swelling develops. This is the absolute best time to start managing lymphedema to slow or even prevent its progression.
Stage 1 (mild): The affected area becomes mildly swollen as the waste filled fluid begins to accumulate in your tissues. With management, it’s still possible to reduce the affected area to its original size. At this stage, rest and elevation will also bring down your swelling.
Stage 2 (moderate): At this point the tissues have been damaged and you can no longer reduce the affected area to its original size. The swelling is more pronounced and rest or elevation no longer bring down the swelling. Treatment can reduce the size of the affected area and management can help maintain it.
Stage 3 (severe): The affected area is extremely swollen and most likely disfigured. The tissues have sustained severe damage and the integrity of your skin has most likely broken down. Intense treatment is the only option. At this point, the lymphedema is extremely difficult to treat and manage.
Active Massage® compression garments are designed to help with prevention or be part of the management phase for treating lymphedema. These garments are most effective when your lymphedema is under control. Typically stage 0, stage 1 or after physical therapy with massage and wrapping in stage 2.
Since there is presently no cure for lymphedema, the goal of treatment and management is to slow its progression and reduce the symptoms you’re experiencing. The earlier you intervene, the better chance you have of keeping your lymphedema from becoming totally life invasive.
Question 3: Are you active?
If you’re bedridden or immobile Active Massage® compression garments are most likely not for you.
To improve lymphatic flow, Active Massage® compression garment combines an innovative 3D wave knit fabric with lighter graduated compression. When you put the garment on, the pattern imprints on your skin and creates a gentle massage as you move. When you take the garment off, this imprint will remain on your skin for ½ hour to a few hours depending on the severity of your lymphedema.
The massage action created when wearing Active Massage® compression garments helps move lymph fluid through lymph vessels and encourages lymph capillaries, the smallest of the lymphatic vessels, to pick up fluid. The graduated compression helps improve the effect of muscle contractions on lymph flow and propels lymph in the correct direction. The more you move, the better Active Massage® compression wear works!*
* How well Active Massage® compression garments will work for you depends on how well your lymphatic system is functioning in the affected area.
Question 4: Can you switch from tradition compression to Active Massage® compression?
Yes! But, if you have worn traditional compression garments for a while, you should transition to Active Massage® compression over a period of time. To do this, alternate between the Active Massage® garment and the compression garment you are presently wearing. At first, try wearing the Active Massage® garment in the morning or during physical activity.
If your affected area maintains or even decreases in size and you don’t experience any of the tell tale sensations (such as heaviness, tingling or discomfort), continue increasing the length of time you wear the Active Massage® garment until the transition is complete. If you experience any increase in swelling or other symptoms, slow the transition down. If swelling or other symptoms persists, this indicates that Active Massage® compression garment is most likely not for you.
Please consult with a healthcare professional before starting any compression therapy. I’m not a doctor or healthcare professional. I’m someone who’s had lymphedema since 2009 and spent most of my time learning about the lymphatic system and searching out and trying new ways to keep my lymphedema under control. From starting Solidea Medical to offer a new solution I discovered, Active Massage® compression garments, I’ve completely changed the way I think about and deal with my lymphedema. I'm sharing what I’ve found works for me. ~ Sue Callison