Day Compression Versus Night Compression
People with lymphedema soon learn that their condition is chronic. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that things will get steadily worse, it does mean that patients must take the management of their condition seriously. Among other things, that means following your healthcare providers’ advice regarding compression wear.
Wearing compression garments is a fundamental component of any plan to combat the progression of the condition. These garments are carefully designed to promote the return and recirculation of lymph. Most rely on graduated compression. This means a given item or garment squeezes more tightly at more distant points, and less so closer to the heart. This graduated compression sets up a gradient; encouraging lymph to drain back into compromised lymph vessels in the legs, for instance, by squeezing you most tightly at the ankles, and less so at the upper calves.
When lymph pools in the tissues of the ankles, for example, it can cause problems with the health of the tissues themselves, and the skin in affected areas. These areas become more fragile, and more prone to infection, and skin may thicken, discolor, or break down. Compression wear helps with all of these symptoms.
You should always wear your compression garments as directed. Some patients are surprised to learn that they must to wear specialized garments around the clock. That’s not to say that you can, or should, don a garment and never remove it until it’s time to do laundry. Your doctor will likely proscribe garments that should be worn during daylight hours, and separate garments that are appropriate for nighttime wear, while you sleep.
The Difference is Day and Night
- Daytime garments are not appropriate for nighttime wear. Daytime garments feature considerably higher compression than nighttime items. Wearing daytime garments at night could backfire, causing new or additional damage to your arms or legs.
- Although they feature gentler compression, nighttime garments continue to help squeeze lymph out of affected tissues.
- Not every patient needs to wear garments at night. Those who should include patients who experience gradual “refilling” of affected areas during sleeping hours.
- Other candidates for nighttime wear include those who experience persistent, localized skin thickening in affected areas.
Who Can Benefit from Nighttime Compression Wear?
- Anyone who presently wears a custom or off-the-rack compression sleeve during the day may benefit from wearing an appropriate nighttime sleeve.
- Those who experience daytime changes in the amount of swelling in affected areas could probably benefit from nighttime wear.
- People who struggle with donning daytime wear due to overnight swelling could benefit from wearing appropriate garments at night.
- Anyone who feels the management of their lymphedema needs improvement.
Types of Nighttime Garments
There are several types of nighttime garments/items that may be appropriate for evening wear, depending on your particular condition.
- Foam liner with straps
- This option relies on an external strap system to supply compression. Go to a trained fitter, therapist, or the manufacturer to ensure proper fit and compression.
- Quilted fabric with foam fill
- An external sleeve, sometimes combined with foam and fabric, supply compression for a custom fit.
- Short-stretch binders
- These feature no foam component. They can be worn day or night. They rely on inelastic binding, but compression must be adjusted to an appropriate level for nighttime wear.