A typical lymphedema self-care program includes some type of compression garment or bandaging, skin care, elevation and exercise. It may also include self-manual lymph drainage, as taught by a qualified instructor, and Lympha Press® .
Lymphedema symptoms should be monitored regularly. Therapists recommend taking one or two circumferential measurements at a “landmark” so that you can measure each time. Your therapist may also ask you to monitor body weight, skin color and pain level.
LymphaTrack is an easy way for you to monitor your condition. It is a free mobile phone app. Please click here for information.
The skin should be cleaned and dried daily, then moisturized with lotion, or ointment, in cases of more severe dry skin. It is important to inspect the skin daily, especially in areas of swelling. Any wounds or skin breakdown should be promptly treated. Some people use a mirror to look at skin on the backs of the arm, legs, or torso.
Any change in the skin should be noted and addressed including: color, temperature, texture, and wounds.
Individuals with lymphedema need to compensate for an impaired lymph system that doesn’t properly move lymph fluid. It is unhealthy to have uncontrolled swelling because swelling is more than just water: it can contain cell waste, bacteria, viruses and even cancer. Stagnant edema swelling that is not regularly decongested can transform over time into into fatty tissue, called lymphostatic fibrosis.
Lympha Press® uses a garment with air-filled “chambers” to apply a special compression and release sequence to the area being treated. The air chambers are inflated to a precise pressure and deflated in a sequence that stimulates the lymphatic capillaries to absorb lymph fluid. The compression and release sequence also stimulates the lymph vessels to propel the fluid along out of the area, to decongest it of stagnant lymph fluid. The lymph nodes process the edema so that it can safely leave the body as urine.
There are many options for compression. Circular knit “off the shelf” elastic stockings or arm sleeves/gloves are commonly used for maintenance of mild swelling. Those with severe swelling and/or obesity may need stronger choices that provide better containment, such as custom flat knit elastic compression garments, Velcro wraps, and compression bandaging systems. Many people wear quilted compression at night; quilted compression is very comfortable but bulky and the texture used can enhance treatment for fibrosis.
Daily use of compression is an important component of self-care for lymphedema. It compensates for impaired lymphatic circulation by creating external containment that compresses against the body and helps move swelling when the body moves.
Remove your compression garments and use your Lympha Press® over nonbinding, comfortable clothing. You can use the Lympha Press® in the morning before putting on stockings, or in the evening after removing them. Lympha Press® should not be used over bare skin; wear soft, comfortable clothing such as socks and sweat pants for legs or a long sleeved t-shirt for arms, as a liner.
MLD stands for “manual lymphatic drainage.” MLD is a special form of massage that stimulates the lymph system and directs swelling to groups of lymph nodes. MLD is applied by a trained lymphedema therapist who is skilled in both the application and the knowledge of the lymphatic drainage pathways. The therapist tailors the treatment to each patient.
Your therapist may ask you to to stimulate the lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin before and after a Lympha Press treatment, using self-manual lymph drainage techniques. It is always important to consult with a qualified lymphedema therapist to learn any manual techniques for your lymphedema. Deep diaphragmatic breathing during the treatment is also very helpful in facilitating lymphatic function.
About exercise and breathing techniques
Depending upon the location of swelling, particular exercises may be prescribed to use muscular contraction to help move swelling out of swollen areas. Exercise is most effective while wearing compression garments or bandages. The exception is aquatic exercise, because water provides excellent external compression and so compression garments are not needed under water.
Everyone needs exercise daily, especially those with lymphedema. People who sit for most of the day should get up and walk at least every hour or more.
Exercise can be helpful and can actually help give additional energy during and after cancer treatment. Consult a professional for direction in specific exercise programs.
A physical therapist can individualize a good program to help you get back on your feet and walk more easily and safely.
Moving the diaphragm very important for many reasons. Many people regularly use less than 10% of their breathing capacity, relying on the accessory breathing muscles that raise the shoulders. This can lead to sore neck and shoulders, and poor oxygenation. The diaphragm is also important because it stimulates the hundreds of lymph nodes and lymphatic channels in the abdomen, and abdominal congestion can impact swelling throughout the body. Lastly, abdominal breathing has been shown to be very important in assisting the veins to return blood from the extremities to the heart. When the veins aren’t working properly, the lymphatics assist with fluid return, and can become overworked, with swelling as the result.
See this link for some helpful deep breathing exercises for lymphedema.
Cellulitis is a bacterial infection that can occur anywhere in the body. People with lymphedema are more susceptible to cellulitis, especially in areas of congestion, because one of the functions of the lymph system is to fight infections by disposing of bacteria, and when lymph drainage is impaired, the infection fighting mechanism is impaired as well.
Cellulitis most commonly affects the skin and superficial layers of tissue. It is critical to keep a good skin barrier to bacteria with daily hygiene and moisturization.
Cellulitis presents as a local area of redness, heat, pain and swelling that can rapidly spread. Some people also feel malaise or “flu-like” symptoms with cellulitis.
Any suspicion of cellulitis is reason to seek medical attention immediately. Cellulitis tends to worsen rapidly and can be potentially fatal if not treated.
Maybe. Some people with chronic leg swelling also have an inflammatory condition known as erythema, which can mimic symptoms of cellulitis. Erythema can be ongoing and typically affects both legs. It doesn’t usually appear suddenly or worsen rapidly. However, it is better to be safe than sorry and seek medical attention immediately if cellulitis is even suspected.
About Lympha Press®
Please see our distributor list for the Lympha Press® provider in your country. If you do not see your country on the list, please email us at [email protected]
Use Lympha Press® according to your licensed medical practitioner’s prescription. Treatment time and frequency is usually one hour per day for lymphedema, or two one hour sessions per day for venous insufficiency. Follow your medical practitioner’s recommendations for slowly increasing treatment time to the full prescribed time, starting with short treatments at first.
Follow your medical practitioner’s instructions. After your lymphedema swelling reduces, you may need to reduce the pressure. Contact your practitioner before making changes to your treatment program.
Lying down comfortably in bed is the best position for stimulating lymph flow. However, many patients find it more pleasant to perform treatment sitting on a couch or recliner, with legs elevated (or for arms, with arm supported).
The garment appliances can be cleaned by surface wiping with a mild detergent solution and then wiping with plain water. They can also be cleaned using alcohol wipes or sponged with 70 percent alcohol. If cleaning with alcohol, work in a well ventilated area and use gloves. Allow to dry before using.
Wear non-binding comfortable clothing without buttons or zippers. Sweat pants with socks for legs, and long sleeve shirt for arms are good choices. To prevent irritation and perspiration, do not wear the Lympha Press® appliance directly over bare skin.
Follow the troubleshooting guide in the user manual. Be sure to check that the power cord is inserted into the back of the pump and that all the hoses are properly seated and connected. If the problem does not resolve, call your Lympha Press® provider.
The best way to transport your Lympha Press® is to pack it in its original carton and special protective padding . If you cannot do this, then pack your Lympha Press® in a suitcase with plenty of plastic bubble wrap to protect it, along with some layers of clothing.
If you require travel documentation, please contact the distributor in your country.
Some Lympha Press® models are multi voltage and can be used in other countries with an adaptor plug. Other models may require a voltage converter to convert the electricity from the wall socket to the required voltage. Check your user manual or contact your Lympha Press® provider for voltage requirements and limitations.
About Lympha Press®
Any patient could potentially benefit, but especially patients who cannot completely control their swelling using their home program.
Lipedema and lipolymphedema patients find Lympha Press to be very useful for managing pain and swelling. Lympha Press® is the only pneumatic compression therapy system proven to reduce pain and easy bruising, as well as swelling, in lipedema patients.
Lympha Press® increases venous circulation and lymph vessel flow. This helps decongest and reduce edema, reduce pain and control the symptoms of lymphedema. For patients with venous stasis ulcers, Lympha Press® can shorten the time it takes for ulcers to heal and prevent recurrence of the ulcers after healing.
Yes! There are a number of studies that have proved Lympha Press® assists in moving all the components of lymphatic fluid, including proteins.
Use of Lympha Press® is not recommended in the presence of one or more of the following conditions:
- Known or suspected deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism
- During the inflammatory phlebitis process
- Acute infection of the affected limb
- Decompensated cardiac failure
- Severe arteriosclerosis or other ischemic vascular disease
- Any circumstance where increased venous and lymphatic return is undesirable
- Due to movement of fluids in the body when using the system, exercise caution when using on patients with heart disease. High pressure is not recommended for patients who have peripheral occlusion disease.
The abdominal area should not be treated during pregnancy.
- Due to movement of fluids in the body when using the device, use with caution on patients with heart disease. High pressure is not recommended for patients who have peripheral occlusion disease.
- The abdominal area should not be treated during pregnancy.
See the User Manual for additional notes and precautions.
Selecting treatment settings and appliances
Please click here to view the treatment protocol brochure.
Treatment with Lympha Press can help to soften, remodel and prevent fibrosis, and higher pressures are generally used for this function. See the treatment protocol brochure for recommendations.
Leg sleeves appliances are most appropriate for patients with swelling that is limited to the feet and lower legs, such as found in phlebolymphedema. The Lympha Pants® are designed to treat the abdomen, genitals, buttocks, and inguinal areas in addition to the feet and legs, and are most appropriate for patients who have swelling or lymphatic damage in proximal areas as well as in the feet and legs.
The Lympha Pants® appliance with chambers that inflate over the genital area is part of effective home treatment for genital lymphedema.
Studies have shown that pneumatic compression therapy accelerates wound healing and prevent future wound recurrence. Wounds should be covered with occlusive dressing before treatment. The use of a barrier, such as a plastic bag might be required in clinic over draining wounds. It is important to adjust pressure to comfort.
The time of day usually is determined by the individual patient’s schedule and need. Many patients with leg swelling tend to use Lympha Press in the afternoon and evening when legs are most swollen to relieve congestion.
Lympha Press® pumps and appliances are very easy for patients to use: the pumps are easily operated by the touch of a button and automatically turn off at the end of the treatment. Appliances have zippers and donning straps that allow easy donning and doffing. Lympha Press pumps have special technology that senses the amount of inflation needed for the appliance to fit to the patient’s body, so the appliance does not have to be snugly fastened in order for the patient to receive the proper amount of pressure during treatment. Torso garments are modular one-piece systems that do not require assembly to don.
Lympha Press® is often used in the clinic to assist with the reduction process, and also as a trial in the clinic to determine appropriateness and determine the proper settings for home use. Using Lympha Press® expands the clinic treatment because a variety of other treatments can be done concurrently with Lympha Press® treatment, such as self-care and risk reduction education, and focused MLD to other body areas.
Patients can become familiar with how to don and doff appliances, and operate their Lympha Press® in the clinic; this also gives the therapist the opportunity to assess for needs for pressure tolerances, positioning, and modified techniques or adapative equipment for donning and doffing appliances.
Education is an important factor for adherence. Patients who are encouraged to use Lympha Press® have seen the benefits and incorporate it into their daily routine. Education in techniques for their home program and individualized modifications can help them succeed.