Lymphatic bandaging

The following article was published in the February edition of the specialist health magazine GP* GesundheitsProfi

Post-operative lymph oedema - prevention and treatment

Injuries to the lymphatic system can lead to lasting damage and, as a consequence, to lymph oedema. “Lymph O Fit” by Anita is a treatment option for various indications.

In cases of lymph oedema, the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system has been disrupted. Liquid collects in the inter-cellular spaces and leads to visible swelling that is also noticeable by touch. Causes can be injuries such as contusion or surgical procedures.

One of the most common causes is a tumour in the breast area and its treatment. During cancer treatment, lymph nodes often have to be removed. This and severing lymphatic vessels during surgery can significantly or even completely obstruct lymph drainage paths. Radiation therapy, too, has a negative effect on lymphatic vessels.

About 20 to 30% of breast cancer patients are affected by secondary lymph oedema. The first symptoms, such as heaviness, a feeling of tension and swelling, often appear weeks or months after cancer surgery. Sometimes, they don’t manifest for years. 

The severity of a lymph oedema depends on

  • the number of axillary lymph nodes removed
  • the radical nature of the surgery
  • post-operative scar formation
  • the type and extent of radiation therapy and the resulting fibrotic changes
  • the extent of the tumour and of the impact on the lymph nodes

The development phases of lymph oedema are divided into different clinical stages:

  • Phase 0 (latency phase) - the functions of the lymphatic system have been disturbed but can still be balanced
  • Phase I (reversible phase) - excessive demand on the lymphatic system, swelling of the affected tissue, the tissue is still soft at this point
  • Phase II (spontaneously irreversible phase) - excessive connective tissue has developed, tissue is beginning to harden
  • Phase III (elephantiasis) - extreme swelling, skin is hardened, proliferations occur

    Treatment and prevention of lymph oedema

A lymph oedema that remains untreated in its initial stages will result in the affected body swelling more and more, causing the tissue to change. The earlier treatment begins, the better.

See a doctor immediately if you have any symptoms. Lymphatic drainage will be combined with compression treatment using appropriate bandages and compression garments. Doctors and health care supply stores work together closely on this issue.

A lymph oedema that remains untreated in its initial stages will result in the affected body swelling more and more, causing the tissue to change. The earlier treatment begins, the better. See a doctor immediately if you have any symptoms. Lymphatic drainage will be combined with compression treatment using appropriate bandages and compression garments. Doctors and health care supply stores work together closely on this issue.

The following actions can help to prevent lymph oedema:

  • Under no circumstances should bra straps cut in.
  • Use bras with wide straps that don’t roll up, and with a soft and wide underbust band.
  • Avoid clothing that could constrict on the side of the surgery.
  • Do exercises that promote lymphatic drainage.
  • Rest and support your arm above the level of your heart from time to time. Prevent cuts and scratches.
  • Avoid carrying any weight on the side of your surgery - and that includes your handbag!
  • Blood pressure measurements, injections and blood samples should not be carried out on the surgery side.

Lymphatic relief with “Lymph O Fit”

“Lymph O Fit” is a special material for lymphatic relief. In particular, it is characterised by the dot structure on the inside. This texture has a massaging and draining effect on the subcutis and its smaller lymphatic vessels. This activates and improves lymphatic drainage and supports scar regression.

Good moisture wicking and breathability ensure pleasant comfort and conditions for the skin. Compression class 1 is used for lymphatic problems. It applies gentle compression to lymph and skin. It is used for the reduction of lymph oedema in the breast, for haematoma, fibrosis, following arm lifts, liposuction and transplants of lymph nodes as well as for mild lymph oedema in the legs or groin.

For plastic surgery such as liposuction, tummy tucks, leg lifts and reconstruction of the breast from the stomach, a firmer material (compression class 2) was developed. It is less stretchy and offers increased compression. The dot structure on the inside is less pronounced but still has a massaging effect on the skin.

In compression class 1, several products are available:

  • Lymphatic relief bandage:
    Indication: Lymph accumulation in the breast and thorax area
    How it works: Supports the healing process using controlled compression. Following an amputation, a pad can also be integrated, if required.
  • Lymphatic relief arm sleeve or arm sleeves:
    Indication: For mild lymph oedema in the arm, following a transplant of lymph nodes, arm lifts or liposuction and shoulder surgery as well as for prevention after all breast surgeries. How it works: Gentle compression on the arm
  • Compression tights: Indication:
    Following transplant of lymph nodes. For mild lymph oedema in the legs and groin. Anti-cellulite effect. How it works: Gentle compression on the abdomen and thigh. Also available as a knee-length model.
  • In compression class 2, the following products are available:

  • Compression bodice:
    Indication: Following liposuction, stomach lifts or reconstruction of the breast from the stomach. How it works: Compression of the entire abdominal wall.
  • Compression girdle:
    Indication: Following liposuction, stomach and thigh lifts.
    How it works: Compression of the abdominal wall and thighs.
  • Compression girdle:
    Indication: Following liposuction, leg lifts.
    How it works: Compression in the areas where surgery took place.

Clinical experience

Patients and doctors appreciate the massaging effect and therapeutic benefits of “Lymph O Fit” products. “After women had been wearing the product for a short time, they felt a reduction in local pain. The existing lymph oedema areas were decreased”, said Dr. Sylvia Mück, Chief of Gynaecology/Oncology at Sigel Clinic in Bad Schönborn, summarising her experience.

 

Without treatment, a lymph oedema will not disappear but constantly get worse. In those cases, therapy and products for lymphatic relief are a permanent recommendation or even requirement. “Lymph O Fit” products support a rapid regression of post-operative oedema and a better manageability of chronic lymphatic drainage problems.