Clothing, bras and prostheses
Clothes that are too tight, such as bras, vests, or anything with a tight waistband, can act like a tourniquet and may prevent lymph fluid from draining.
If your bra is too tight around the chest, or if the straps dig into the shoulders and under the arm, this can block the flow of lymph out of the chest. Try wearing a bra that has wide and flexible shoulder straps and bands around the chest. It’s also important to make sure you have the right cup size – your lymphoedema specialist can advise you about being correctly measured.
Some breast prostheses are very heavy and can apply pressure to the chest area, making the shoulder straps on a bra dig in. If you need to wear a prosthesis, try to get a lightweight one. Your lymphoedema specialist can advise you about bras and breast prostheses.
Compression bras and vests
Compression bras and specialist vests are available for breast or chest lymphoedema. They often need to be made-to-measure to make sure they fit properly. You can also use a sports bra. Your lymphoedema specialist can help you get the right garment for your situation.
You may also need to wear a compression sleeve to stop the fluid moving from one area to another, and to help to improve drainage. Compression bandaging isn’t often used to treat lymphoedema of the breast or chest area.
MLD and SLD
Lymphatic drainage (massage) techniques including MLD and SLD are important ways of treating breast and chest lymphoedema. Your therapist can give you more information about them.
Lymphoedema taping (Kinesio® taping)
This is a special taping technique that’s applied directly onto the skin. It gently lifts the top layer of skin, which allows the superficial lymph fluid to flow more easily.