Fitting Compression Garments

Compression garments should fit snug and comfortably to ensure 100% compliance. But, not all compression garments are created equal.

Each person’s limb is unique and responds differently to compression; age, the condition of skin and tissues, and ability to apply and remove a garment are important considerations in garment choice. Knowing the many options available and the differences between the various garment brands will help in finding the best garment. Ready- made garments are generally a good starting point if the limb length and shape are fairly standard. If the patient has moderate or severe lymphedema, or if the shape of the limb is more bulbous in one or more areas, or the limb is extra short or long, you may need to fit a custom made garment.

If the patient does not wear a daytime garment, the benefits of intensive treatment will be lost, so fit and comfort are important. The lymphedema therapist and fitter must be willing to explore options with the patient. The therapist should also periodically check the garment fit and effectiveness, and modify the system as needed, to ensure the best outcome. If a circular garment is not firm enough to control the swelling, a different garment type or compression level for specific activities such as exercise or gardening may be considered. Garments should be replaced at least every 6 months to ensure the patient is getting the prescribed compression.

Sometimes additional accessories like Swell Spots can be used to facilitate or improve the fit of a garment. Swell Spots are professionally designed treatment pads that tuck into garments or under bandages. Use them to address particularly troublesome areas of edema, fill concavities, or diffuse pressure points.


Radke, Lori. “Top 10 Self-Care Tips.” Pathways. Summer 2015: 14. Print.

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