Compression Garments and Bandages

Compression Garments and Bandages

161x214bandaging lymphedema028004.jpgWhy are compression garments/bandages used? 
For many people compression garments/bandages help to keep lymphoedema under control.  Research has shown that compression garments/bandages are the most effective treatment for lymphoedema. 

Ideally compression garments are worn during waking hours to manage the swelling down and stop the skin from stretching.  Try to see your compression garment like a pair of glasses – just something you need to wear.   Your lymphoedema therapist or garment stockist can advise on the best treatment. Badly fitting garments can do more harm than good. 

For assessment and prescribed treatment, talk to a Lymphoedema Therapist.
How compression do garments/bandages work? 
No one understands completely how compression works but it is thought that compression increases the pressure in the fluid under the skin to:
  • reduce the leaking and
  • improve the flow of leaked fluid back into vessels.
  • protect the skin from stretching.
    Compression garments may not be appropriate if:
  • blood flow is poor
  • the area is numb and the skin likely to crack without you knowing - check regularly
  • the limb is infected e.g. cellulitis.  The symptoms of cellulitis are pain, redness, and swelling.  The area of redness usually increases until treatment is received. 
  • the skin is blistering or prone to ulcers
  • you are having radiotherapy and the garment rubs the skin.
When wearing compression garments/bandages:
  • use aqueous cream or moisturiser to moisturise the area as oil breaks down the garment fabric
  • always use rubber gloves to put garment on as wearing gloves increases the life of the garment and reduces snagging
  • replace garment every 4 - 6 months
  • make sure the garment fits well with no creases
  • garments should be firm but not cause pain, swelling or extra numbness
  • handwash garment in warm water with mild detergent.  Gently squeeze dry in a towel (do not wring) and dry in shade
  • compression garments can be left off at night.
Useful Links
General information
Compression Treatment
NZ Suppliers
For donning garments
Garment application devices

General Information
Best Practice for the Management of Lymphoedema. International Consensus, 2006 

Compression Treatment
Template for Practice: Compression hosiery in upper body lymphoedema, 2009. HealthComm UK Ltd.
Best practice for the management of lymphoedema - 2nd edition. Compression therapy:
A position document on compression bandaging. The international Lymphoedema Framework in association with the World Alliance for Wound and Lymphoedema Care, June 2012.

Some New Zealand Suppliers:
Toomac Solutions Ltd - 32D Poland Rd, Glenfield, Auckland: ph. (09) 443 5347

Protec Solutions Limited - Medi Compression

Smith and Nephew New Zealand Lymphoedema Site

Obex - Venosan Products


3M Compression Therapy Products - Coban 2

USL Medical - SIGVARIS stockings and sleeves
0800(SIGVARIS) 744 827

For donning garments:
Proper fitting of sleeves and gloves - StepUp-SpeakOut Editorial Board, 2014

Compression garments stockings for lymphedema. Lymphedema People, 2012

Garment application devices (to assist with donning garments):
Toomac Solutions Ltd  for the “Gaitor-Aide’” device.
32D Poland Rd, Glenfield, Auckland. (09) 443 5347

Easy–As - New Zealand supplier

USL Medical - range of donning aids
0800(SIGVARIS) 744 827

Easy-Slide for Armsleeve and stocking application: Australian distributor. Contact Cosmac Surgical ph. 02 9033 7400 or email 

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