What is lymphedema wrapping?
Wrapping with layered bandages is the gold standard for lymphedema compression. It’s easy enough to see that wrapping can control swelling, but it does much more as well. The lymph vessels lie just below the skin, where they depend on the pressure of the muscles beneath them to act as a pump to stimulate the flow of lymph fluid. The bandages apply consistent pressure against the skin, providing a surface for the muscles to press against to enhance the muscles’ pumping action. Therefore, wearing bandages can help pump excess fluid out and reduce swelling as you go about your daily activities.
Because wrapping is so effective at moving lymph fluid out of the body, your therapist will usually wrap your affected area at each therapy session.
Wrapping at home
Since you cannot be with your therapist every day, you will need to know how to perform lymphedema wrapping yourself. Once you learn the basics, this will be a self-care tool that you will use often to regain control after a flare-up, or to prevent a flare-up from happening in the first place.
By working together with your therapist and being proactive with your health, lymphedema can be manageable. Taking the time to learn how to wrap yourself at home will help you manage your lymphedema and experience full quality of life.
Caution - very important
Only perform the bandaging as demonstrated in this video after you have been instructed to do so by a certified lymphedema therapist.
NEVER USE ACE BANDAGES TO WRAP FOR LYMPHEDEMA OR FOR LYMPHEDEMA PREVENTION. The outer bandages used for lymphedema wrapping may look like the ordinary ACE-type bandages available at any drug store, but they’re not the same. Lymphedema bandages are called “short stretch” bandages. They’ll stretch if you pull them, but not nearly as far as an ACE bandage stretches. This more limited stretch applies the right kind of pressure to your skin to help pump the lymph along, and it prevents the uneven binding and constricting that can happen with an ACE bandage.
Lymphedema wrapping instruction videos
If you have been instructed by your therapist about the proper techniques for lymphedema wrapping, you may find the videos on this page helpful tools for remembering the steps.