Compression Garments - Off the shelf versus Custom Made

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Compression Garments - Off the shelf versus Custom Made

Postby patoco » Fri Nov 16, 2007 12:57 pm

Lipedema Lymphedema Compression Garments - Off the shelf versus Custom Made

We had a question in our Lipedema Yahoo group regarding which variety of compression garment works best, our always wonderful and brillant member Helen, a therapist from the UK posted this response. Thought I would share it here as well.

Thanks Helen :wink: what ever would we do without you :!: :!:

You just know that Helen's got to stick her oar in with post! (see
below). Red rag to a bull!

What a lot of confusing, contradictory information there is out there
that is being given to those with lipoedema! I find it hard to

I go back to my request for us all to be "singing from the same hymn
sheet" as much as possible.

"Off the shelf" garments are just that - they are picked for you off
the shelf. That means they haven't been made specially for you but
will fit people whose measurements are within the range that that
particular garment fits.

The problem with these garments is that for some people they might
have, for example, a very small ankle, maybe a small knee, but a
disproportionately larger calf. But if the calf size still fits
within the range of the off-the-shelf garment (but at the top end of
the measurement) and the ankle and knee are on the lowest end of the
scale of the garment measurements, it will mean that that garment
will have a looser fit at the ankle and knee, compared with the
calf. And that has the squeezed-in-the-middle-effect of the long
balloon that I wrote about last week.

The custom-mades however, are made specially for you, using your
measurements. That means that if you have typical lipoedema (tiny
ankle, bigger above in slight or large bulges) the garments can be
made to fit your body. It won't fit anybody else's.

In terms of time, it depends if the therapist or pharmacy has these
garments in stock if you are prescribed 'off-the-shelf' hosiery - if
not then they still have to be ordered and I have no idea how long it
takes for them to arrive (others on the site will answer that for
you). I never order 'off the shelfs' - I only clear up the mess of
those who do order them incorrectly for my clients... a long,
frustrating story!!! Certainly I have had clients whose 'off-the-
shelf' garments take 3 weeks to arrive. Not much of a 'service', if
you ask me, and fairly useless, especially if the client has some
lymphoedema present.

If you have custom-mades, they take 5 days from Germany, generally
(Haddenham Healthcare garments). Your garment needs to be with you
for when the intensive treatment (MLD and bandaging for 10 days +)
finishes. I measure my clients on treatment day 5. The timing of
the arrival of the garment is crucial for lymphoedema but I find it's
not too serious with straightforward lipoedema, if it's late.

In terms of the fabric and ease of getting on....
it annoys me that people in need of good advice are not being given
it. You should have been told that you need the appropriate
compression fabirc for you. So the fact that an 'off-the-shelf-
garment' might be easier to get on will relate to it being cheaper
and of poorer quality. Yes, custom-mades might be a stronger fabric
but - the same manufacturer will also sell a range of 'off-the-shelf'
hosiery...and those garments will be in the same fabric as their

It's just that money rules. Therefore there are manufacturers around
who supply to hospitals and surgeries where the NHS (in Britain) or
insurance companies are obviously after a cheap option. And that
affects the quality of the garment. But those same institutions are
aware that as far as the population goes, as a whole, for 'the
greater good', some compression is better than no compression.

But that doesn't mean that 'some compression' is enough for you! You
are an indvidual with individual needs. You are not just a series of
measurements - there is much to be considered. Your properly trained
MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) therapist should be able to advise
you correctly.

However, there will always be some individuals who do happen to fit
off-the-shelf garments (good quality ones - always check) and that is
fortunate for those people.

I would always consider custom-mades first - as there is usually much
better choice of fabric and colour. I would rather have a high
proportion of cotton and the choice of 'without crotch' than a sweaty
pair of tights that squeeze in the wrong places. But that's just
me - I don't fit standard off-the-shelf compression.

Hope that is clearer than mud. I think a table woud be a good thing
to put on here with examples of the off-the-shelf measurements for a
typical manuafacturer. However, Yahoo doesn't seem to display them
properly - I have tried in the past.

Have a good day
MLD therapist, UK


Pat O'Connor
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