Tips & Tricks

All Wrapped Up

I just began my four-week wrapping treatment — here's what it's all about!

The other day I began a four week process in which my affected limb is wrapped in a series of bandages and foam padding to create compression. The goal is to get my leg down to the smallest size possible so that I can be measured for a new compression garment. The smaller the measurements, the tighter the garment will be – and the better the swelling will be managed!

So what exactly does wrapping entail?

First, the lymphedema therapist took out a large sheet of foam padding. The foam, when wrapped under tight bandaging, helps to contour and compress the leg. She measured alongside my leg and foot and cut out a couple different pieces: an arch pad, a front piece, and a back piece. (These will be used later.)

Next, she wrapped my leg in Artiflex cotton batting, like the kind you’d use to keep a cast in place. This went from the bottom of my toes all the way to my knee.

After that, she put the foam pieces on, wrapping them loosely in place with a regular Ace bandage.

After that, she individually wrapped the first four toes of my foot.

Next come the bandages! The lymphedema therapist used four rolls of Rosidal short stretch bandages – two 8 centimeter and two 10 centimeter rolls. She wrapped my leg with tighter compression at the bottom, the gradient compression helping to move the lymph upwards.

The final product:

I go to the clinic almost every day for four weeks, and each day we do the same: unwrap, perform manual lymph drainage, re-wrap. It’s only been three days but I’ve already noticed a difference when the bandages are removed – a lot of the swelling is down and I’m really excited to get fitted for my new garment. Wrapping is a worthwhile process to undertake, something I’d definitely recommend talking to a lymphedema specialist about!

What are your experiences with wrapping? Have you found it to be helpful?

12 comments on “All Wrapped Up

  1. I’m wishing you a marvelous mummy-ish month! I love when change/improvement is detectable like that; It is super-exciting. Wrapping’s not available to me because my pubic area and lower abdomen are what’s swollen. It’s frustrating, since it wrapping is a key element in lymphedema management, but I salute my body for trying to be as difficult as it can.

    • Pubic area and lower abdomen for me are best after sleeping in solaris garment with girdle (not too tight/loose) on top. And during the day I get ok results with Solaris custom pad under 30/40 off the shelf Juzo stockings and a different girdle. But girdles are getting harder to find in the department stores. I drag my feet ordering on line, I like to see the product/try it on/buy it… rather than back and forth shipping chores with on line products.

      • Greta, maybe a higher class flat knit garment custom made to go to encompass the same areas as the girdle would be helpful. Plus if you get fitted properly, you can usually get good results with minimal returns…

  2. Wrapping makes a huge difference in not only how the limb looks, but how it feels. When your body feels good then your mood is good because the body and the mind are inextricably linked.

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  9. Jennifer Jacobs

    Hi – I have primary lymphedema in my left leg, diagnosed 5 years ago when I was 45. I haven’t done the wrap thing yet — not sure why but my lymph doc hasn’t pushed it, and it’s hard to imagine finding the time to do this with a f.t. job and 3 kids. But my leg is getting bigger so I’m motivated to do something. I’m curious about what you can wear with your leg wrapped? My lymphedema is especially bad in my thigh so my leg would have to be wrapped to the top. I’m an attorney — could I wear a dress with my leg wrapped? How long does the wrapping take? Thanks for any info you can provide! — Jennifer

  10. Hi Jennifer, I have primary in my left leg and my doctor has me wrap for about one-two months every year to take the leg down (though it often edges back up again in the interim). When I began wrapping it would take me about 20-25 minutes to do but now I have it down to about 5-6. The most annoying thing for me isn’t the wrapping but the re-rolling the bandages after use, though you can do that while watching TV or something so it’s not too bad. I tend to wear long skirts when I’m wrapping and I also need to have a larger shoe/shoes for that foot. I have wrapped and put on a regular pantyhose/stocking over the bandages but it will show through so longer skirts or pants are the way to go. I wrap sometimes when I know I’m going to have a longer than usual day and at night too if needed. It can be a nuisance but it does make a difference.

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