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Garments, Sleeves and Stockings

Compression sleeves and garments are designed to do just what their name suggests: apply pressure to the arm, hand, or trunk to keep lymph moving in the right direction. (Remember that some lymphatic vessels are located just under the surface of your skin.)

Bandaging is a mainstay of treatment for stage 2 and stage 3 lymphedema (moderate to severe lymphedema). Bandaging involves creating a soft cast on the arm or upper body by wrapping with multiple layers.

Bandages work differently than compression sleeves, which support the flow of lymph in the right direction but don’t decongest (move fluid out of) the limb. Sleeves apply what’s known as resting pressure, meaning that the pressure is higher when the arm is at rest. When you move your arm, the elastic fabric moves right along with it, which actually reduces the amount of pressure. A compression sleeve may be enough for mild lymphedema, but more advanced cases need the help of bandaging before a compression sleeve can be used. Bandaging works by reducing limb volume.