Disclosure: I received a Lympha Press® Optimal Plus to review on The Lymphie Life. All opinions expressed here are my own honest impressions as a lymphedema patient.
Living with lymphedema is all about managing symptoms. We wrap, we bandage, we wear our compression. We make an effort to avoid certain foods that could trigger our swelling, and we exercise and incorporate movement into our days to get our lymph pumping.
Lymphatic drainage massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), is another method of management. This specialized massage technique moves fluid from the affected area into another area where the lymph nodes are working properly. It’s extremely beneficial, but it can be kind of hard sometimes to effectively perform MLD on yourself.
Enter: compression pumps. Aside from having a live-in lymphedema therapist to perform MLD for you, these devices are the next best thing.
Compression Pumps: What are they, and how do they help lymphedema?
Compression pumps — also known as pneumatic compression devices or lymphedema pumps — are medical devices that stimulate the movement of fluid in the body.
Pumps consist of three main parts: the console, which supplies pressurized air to the garment; hoses, which transfer the air from the console to each of the garment’s chambers; and the garment itself, which has inflatable air chambers. (The number of chambers in the garment can vary depending on the model of the device, as can the range of pressure offered.) These chambers inflate and deflate in sequence, applying directional massage to move stagnant or trapped fluid upwards toward alternative lymphatic channels.
In addition to lymphedema, compression pumps are also used to treat lipedema, venous stasis ulcers, venous insufficiency, edema, and chronic wounds.
The Lympha Press® Optimal Plus is a unique pump in that it’s extremely customizable to the user’s needs.
It offers calibrated gradient compression in a range of 20 to 90 mmHg. The levels can be adjusted for individual chambers or grouped chambers; there is also the option to skip chambers if needed, like if you have knee problems and would be unable to tolerate added pressure there.
The Lympha Press® Optimal Plus is compatible with a variety of garments, from leg sleeves and jackets to pants and pods — all featuring their patented overlapping chamber design.
Each of the twenty-four overlapping chambers inflate and deflate in sequence, providing dynamic compression that moves trapped lymphatic fluid from the distal part of the limb towards the body. When the sequence is complete, the pump releases the pressure, allowing the emptied lymphatics to refill before the process starts again.
The device uses Lympha Press® Smart Technology™, which calibrates the pressure in each chamber, filling them to fit the patient’s body for optimal therapy.
No, really: the Optimal Plus is clinically proven to increase lymphatic vessel function in lymphedema-affected limbs. Using near-infrared fluorescence imaging, researchers observed in real time how the Lympha Press® device can stimulate lymphatics and increase lymphatic return during and after therapy.
The Optimal Plus offers four therapy modes:
- Sequential: The chambers inflate one by one, creating a gentle wave of pressure up the base of the limb, towards the torso.
- Peristaltic or “wave” therapy: An alternative to the sequential mode, the peristaltic or “wave” mode inflates three chambers at a time as it moves up the limb.
- Pre-Therapy: Designed on the principles of manual lymph drainage, pre-therapy decongests the proximal areas of the body to prepare them to accept the lymphatic fluid that will be mobilized during the main treatment cycle.
- Post-Therapy: Offers focused therapy to a specific area after the main treatment is completed, followed by wave mode over the entire garment.
It’s important to note that your treatment pressure, time, and frequency must be prescribed by your licensed medical practitioner.
I have the Lympha Press® Optimal Plus, model 912, with two Comfysleeve™ 12 Chamber Full Leg Sleeves.
I received my Optimal Plus through Medical Solutions Supplier; once the pump arrived, a representative from Medical Solutions Supplier came over to set it up and walk me through its use. Before we ran through a treatment session, he measured both my legs from ankle to thigh, jotting the numbers down so we could refer to them later.
He demonstrated how I can control the pump from either the console or through the Lympha Press® mobile app, as well as the various ways I can adjust my treatment. After running through a brief treatment program, we measured my legs again and compared them to the previous numbers: I was thrilled to see I had gone down a centimeter in circumference!
At the time of this writing, I’ve had my Optimal Plus for almost two months and have continued to see — and feel — positive results in both legs.
Not only is it effective, but I find it really simple to use: the easy-pull zipper can be a huge plus when getting in and out of the garments, and the sturdy yet lightweight material keeps me from getting overheated during the treatment session.
One of my favorite things about the Optimal Plus is the mobile app, which connects to the pump via Bluetooth.
The app acts as a remote control, so I can start, pause, or stop my treatments while sitting comfortably in my leg sleeves — no more stretching and scooching in my inflated sleeves, desperately trying to reach the buttons on the console so I can pause for an emergency bathroom break. (Those pumps really do get the fluids flowing!)
The app also allows you to customize your treatments as much or as little as possible, from the treatment mode down to the gradient pressure of each of the chambers. (Just because you can doesn’t always mean you should, though: I would leave the more advanced settings to a professional.)
Not only can you save your personalized treatment programs for easy reference, but you can export and share them, too. This means your therapist can develop a custom treatment protocol for you and send it over text or email, which you then save to your Lympha Press® app.
My saved custom treatment programs include: “The Whole Shebang” (featuring pre-therapy, sequential, and post-therapy modes); a custom treatment from lymphie friend and pump specialist Cam Ayala; and “Wavy” (featuring pre-therapy, peristaltic or “wave,” and post-therapy modes). “Wavy” is my favorite for a Sunday evening — it’s so relaxing that I usually doze off mid-treatment. For days when my leg is feeling especially heavy and dense, I find an hour of “The Whole Shebang” gets things moving.
My doctor prescribed a specific treatment protocol for my compression pump, with instructions to do an hour-long treatment two to three times a day. (If you get a compression pump, your medical practitioner will prescribe your own protocol based on what’s appropriate to your needs.) Unfortunately, I’m not always compliant: for some reason, I struggle to make time to do a treatment each day, let alone my recommended two or three rounds.
Like most aspects of lymphedema treatment, you benefit as much as you put into it. That is to say, if you’re diligent about using your pump you’ll see sustained volume reductions, but if you’re lax about compliance, you likely won’t get the effects you and your body need.
Since receiving the Optimal Plus, my compliance has improved. Some weeks are better than others in terms of consistency, but overall I would estimate I use my Optimal Plus at least every other day — not bad considering I was only using my previous pump every other month.
A large part of my newfound commitment to pump compliance is the fact that the Optimal Plus is just so easy — and relaxing — that I actually look forward to using it.
My bottom line? I’m pumped about the Lympha Press® Optimal Plus compression pump! I’ve used a couple of different pumps over the last decade, and the Optimal Plus checks all the boxes for me: the leg sleeves are comfortable; the device is easy to use; and, most of all, the treatment is effective.
I am not a medical professional — just a lymphedema patient with a blog — however it’s my opinion that the Lympha Press® Optimal Plus is a wonderful option for those looking to get a compression pump.
At just under ten pounds, it’s lightweight enough to travel with, be it for an out-of-town trip or just from your bedroom to the living room.
It’s versatile in terms of the customizable treatment programs you can do, and its user-friendly interface makes it easy to take full advantage of everything the pump has to offer.
And because the pump works with a range of specialized garments, the Optimal Plus is ideal for most any lymphedema and lipedema patient. So whether you have lymphedema in one leg or both arms, your abdomen or genitals, or you have inner thigh lobules: there’s a garment that will accommodate your needs.
Interested in a Lympha Press® Optimal Plus? Talk to your doctor or lymphedema therapist about whether or not a compression pump would be a good option for you. Better yet, see if they have one in clinic that you can try. (That’s how I began my pump journey, many years ago!)
You can also reach out to Lympha Press® to enquire about distributors near you. Most distributors have financing options or will help you get the pump covered by insurance, so be sure to ask what sort of support is available.
I received my Optimal Plus through the lovely folks over at Medical Solutions Supplier; their customer service is second to none, so if you’re located in the United States, you can contact them with any questions or to find a local compression therapy consultant.