What are they for:
Lymphedema can occur months or even years after cancer surgery and the removal of lymph nodes. It is a chronic condition with no cure as of yet. If left untreated, lymphedema can get worse. Treatment can lower the risk of infections and complications.
Steps can be taken to reduce or relieve symptoms. If you have mild lymphedema, a compression sleeve will be recommended as the initial treatment for you.
As for stage 2/3 lymphedema, a treatment program known as complete decongestive therapy is usually suggested. After that, it will be required of you to wear a compression sleeve or garment in order to maintain the results.
Your doctor will tell you how often and for how long you must wear it. You also may need to use a different kind or make of sleeve during the night.
Make sure you get your garment fitted by someone with adequate experience. If your garment is not properly fitted, it can lead to your lymphedema getting worse by putting too much unnecessary pressure on specific areas of the limb — which might cause fluid backup to worsen even more.
Your therapist will most probably have to do your fitting, in other cases, your medical supply company’s fitter will be asked to do it. Measurements will be taken of your arms, hands and your chest and other areas to select the correct sleeve for you. You may also be asked to get a custom-made garment. Make sure to be fully aware of how many people your fitter has worked with before. You can buy more than one sleeves or garments so you will be able to alternate them when they have to be washed.
Using a glove:Ask your doctor if you must wear a gauntlet on your hand. This is important if you have ever had any symptoms of heaviness, tingling in the head or swelling in the hand, regardless of how mild or short-lasting they were. It also so happens sometimes that wearing a sleeve only triggers lymphedema in the hand. Sometimes a glove or gauntlet is also suggested to be used for precaution until you can gauge how your body reacts to the sleeve. If you have not experienced any such symptoms, your therapist may ask you to make sure there are no noticeable changes in the feeling in your hand.
Precautions:As your therapist recommends, make sure to avoid applying any moisturizer or lotion on your arms and skin before putting the sleeve on. Their ingredients may lead to the fibers in the sleeve breaking down over time and will make you have to replace them earlier.
It is usually for insurance plans to not cover the price of compression sleeves and related garments. You will have to inquire your lymphedema therapist or the fitter about other people’s experience with insurance. However, it is likely that you pay yourself. The price of a garment can go from $50 to $300, varying and higher for custom made garments.