Do I Need a Compression Sleeve after Breast Cancer Treatment?

One of the most common questions from clinicians and patients is whether a compression sleeve is needed immediately after treatment for breast cancer. 

Although there are well published risk factors for developing secondary lymphedema, current research indicates that all swelling should be treated.  It is well known that post-surgical swelling in the arm may resolve or progress depending on many factors.  Instead of the watch and wait approach, a light compression sleeve of 20-30 mm Hg is recommended in the post-surgical period and up to three months following chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Depending on the presentation, a glove or gauntlet can be worn.

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Be aware that poorly fitting sleeves with excessive tightness in forearm or wrist can promote hand and finger swelling.  It is important that you have a compression sleeve fitted to you by a compression specialist or certified lymphedema therapist.  With surveillance and guidance under a certified lymphedema therapist, progression of post-surgical arm swelling can be monitored to determine continued use of a compression sleeve.  Wearing of the sleeve can be during the day time.

Use our find an expert tool to help find an expert in your area.   

Exercise as Part of Rehabilitation 

Moderate upper extremity exercise is an important part of post breast cancer rehabilitation and is a strong factor against developing lymphedema.  Wearing compression during exercise does not prevent swelling when there is no evidence of upper extremity swelling but if wearing a sleeve, wear it during exercise. 

Find out more about our new moisture-wicking Confidence sleeve which is specially designed for active patients.

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