Compression treatment of lipedema and lymphedema “There is still a great need for education”
Tailor-made compression products that patients feel good in and which they accept: this is the objective the medical supply retailer Schadock in Berlin, Germany, set itself in treating lipedema and lymphedema. Close cooperation with physicians and physiotherapists is important from the very beginning.
“In case of lipedema and lymphedema, the compression garments need to be worn constantly,
usually for the rest of the patients’ lives.”
Showing understanding, listening to the patient , supporting them – those are part of the values of the Schadock medical supply retailer, also when it comes to treating lipedema and lymphedema. “Taking time with these patients is incredibly important. Consultations can last for as long as two hours. In the end, what counts is: what is the best solution for the patient? That’s the only way to help them,” says Beate Pohl , Regional Manager at the Schadock in Berlin. The certified lymph consultant has been working at the company for 22 years. The number of customers with lipedema or lymphedema has increased significantly in the past few years. “This is because of public attention. The condition is understood better. In addition, the affected women’s level of suffering is extremely high, and they now stand up for their concerns with more confidence,” explains Beate Pohl.
Heike Voßke’s level of suffering is also high. As a result of multiple conditions, including chronic venous insufficiency, the 57-year-old has developed lipedema and lymphedema in both arms and legs. She was given her first compression stockings in 2003. She now also wears above-knee pantyhose, a thorax garment as well as arm sleeves and gloves from the VenoTrain curaflow flat knit range. Compression helps her, Heike Voßke says. “I notice it in my arms, in particular. My veins were always difficult to find for taking blood. Since I’ve been wearing the arm sleeves, the nurses begin and the blood is there right away. So it’s working.” In addition to compression therapy, Heike Voßke receives lymphatic drainage twice a week. She is also very active – she does rehabilitation exercises and runs the groups for senior dancing, qigong and fall prevention while sitting. She is very careful about her diet. Nevertheless, she finds weight reduction difficult , probably as a result of a metabolic weakness.
Heike Voßke has been supplied by Schadock since May 2018. “A friend of mine told me that customers are measured digitally there. This was the moment I decided I wanted to go there because I was never really satisfied with my stockings.” For a first impression and the quotation for the health insurance company, the medical supply retailer generally uses the Bodytronic 600 measurement system. “But afterwards, we always take measurements by hand. After all , in lymphological treatment , tension must be applied when the patient is measured,” Beate Pohl explains. This allows the stocking to build up the required medical compression.
Let’s all pull together
Close cooperation between physicians, therapists and the medical supply retailer is crucial for the treatment of lipedema and lymphedema. “It is dangerous if the patient is not supplied with compression – either compressive bandaging or compression stockings – straight after lymphatic drainage. Then they come to us to be measured and the extremities are full of lymphatic fluid again,” says André Radtke, Deputy Regional Manager at Schadock Berlin and rehabilitation consultant. The cooperation with close partners is already good. “Ideally, we are called in to measure the patient straight after lymphatic drainage. But that does not always happen,” André Radtke explains. The demand for additional training in compression therapy is still very high among physicians and trained nursing staff, which is why Beate Pohl organizes regular additional training. “We have a lot of people here for the topic of compression therapy, in particular. In this way, we want to increase awareness of compression therapy and to say: ‘Take a closer look, this person is not just overweight , there’s something else that’s wrong’.” Beate Pohl is convinced: “If we always all pulled together for lymphatic patients, we could improve the management of edema. It doesn’t disappear, of course, but we could achieve enormous reductions in circumference and lower the level of suffering.”
Heike Voßke feels that she is in good hands with Beate Pohl and her team: “They simply show understanding for me. You’re not feeling good yourself, of course. That’s why it always hurts if the physicians say: ‘You need to lose weight’ – I mean, you want to, of course, but how? I sometimes wish for more understanding here.” A number of patients feel this way, André Radtke explains. “When they come to us, many of them notice: ‘Finally, someone is listening to me.’ And they are really thankful for that. The majority copes well with the compression treatment.” Of course, there are also patients who need to be convinced first. “For the successful treatment of lipedema and lymphedema, the garments need to be worn constantly, usually for the rest of the patients’ lives – that puts a lot of people off. But it’s no use either if they only wear the stocking once a week. I make a clear statement here. In severe cases, I also sometimes shock the patients with pictures of how the disease can progress in the worst case,” Beate Pohl says. Besides, the entire team at the medical supply retailer wears compression stockings themselves. “That’s really important to bring the patients on board. Our motto is: ‘I’ve tried it too, and it’s really not so bad at all’,” André Radtke says.
The stockings and arm sleeves of compression class 2 are put on Heike Voßke by the nursing staff. She puts on the gloves and above-knee pantyhose herself. Assistance dog Abby helps her take the compression garments off. “She showed me that it’s easier if she sits on it. The weight is then on the stockings and I can take them off better. I do that in a similar way when I’m at the physician’s – I stand on them, just like little girls often take off their pantyhose.” When the temperatures are high in summer, Heike Voßke also knows how she can help herself. “I discovered for myself that it helps to simply make the stockings wet. You just put them under the shower for a moment , dab them slightly and then they cool me down wonderfully. Then I feel much better.”
Images: Anika Büssemeier
Schadock GmbH in Berlin treats many patients suffering from lipedema and lymphedema.
- Close, effective cooperation between physicians, physiotherapists and medical supply retailers is important right from the beginning.
- Many patients wished there was more understanding of the condition.
- In order for the treatment to be successful, medical compression stockings must be worn daily.