Sunday, 2 February 2014

LympheDIVAs Compression Gauntlet Review


Compression garments and Dysautonomia go hand-in-hand. From stockings, to stop the blood pooling in our legs, to stomach binders to try and stop the abdominal pooling that can leave you looking like are about to pop out a baby. Some even resort to a full body g-suit. Your choice of compression garment will depend on where you pool and how bad your pooling has become. But in all cases it's about minimising the symptoms that result from pooling and being able to stay upright for longer.

My legs have always been the biggest source of pooling hence my focus has been primarily on stockings (for a list on my tips for buying compression stockings, including a couple of the main distributors/brands see here). However, the last year or so I have been having more pooling in my hands. My right hand in particular. And it has been painful. I do my hand exercises, I massage the worst spots but overall it is getting worse.

All of this led me to consider the purchase of a compression gauntlet. After much indecision I decided to purchase a gauntlet from LympheDIVAs, who have an amazing selection of colours and patterns available. I have been impressed with their fashionable range for a number of years now, and have often lamented the fact that they do not also make make compression stockings. As such they ticked my two requirements, medical grade compression and, the often elusive, fashion element.

Like all compression wear these are not cheap. I managed to find a gauntlet in the style I wanted as an end of line/no return product on compressionstockings.com but even then it was still $62 AUD. Not a small investment.

I decided on a LympheDIVAs, Small, Right-handed, 20-30mmHg (Class I) gauntlet, in Deco.

The verdict:

I so wanted to say I loved this product, but, I'll have to say I was underwhelmed by both quality and fit. And somewhat disappointed, as I had been excitedly awaiting it's arrival. (Yes, new compression wear excites me. I may need to get out more.) I'd been looking forward to trialling it and hoped I could report back that it was well worth the money. But for this sample I'd have to say I wish I'd paid full price so I could return it.

Sizing:

Sizing is so important with compression wear. It can also be problematic if you are not a typical size. Even with regards to compression stockings, issues such as bunching and length are common. Additionally, with wear, compression can loosen, hence manufacturers recommend replacing every 6 months.

I thought myself a savvy buyer of compression wear, but alas I was caught out. I followed the directions on the LympheDIVAs site for measurements. I measured twice myself and then had a family member measure to triple check. My measurements fell in to the Small sizing on all three measurements. But my spindly wrists disagree. Even with a Small sizing the wrist portion of the gauntlet is extremely loose and bunches up. It also feels quite bulky compared to the rest of the material. It is only at about 2 inches below my wrist and well into my palm that I can feel the compression.

Compression elsewhere is comfortably firm. Given I have been wearing 20-30mmHg stockings for a number of years now, the pressure on my hand is not worrying. Similar to compression stockings the pressure effect fades after about 30min and I noticed little beyond some restriction of movement. Even after a full days wear it was still comfortable. 

Quality:

The print/colour is patchy. The primary top hand portion is much like the photos on the website, however the underside and thumb portion down to the wrist of the print are not consistent and has visible lines in the colour. The edging above my knuckles and at the wrist are smooth, however the same cannot be said of the thumb portion which was rough and unfinished. Similarly, the seams on the thumb, whilst expected, are very visible, particularly against the darker pattern of the fabric and rough. Given the price of the garment I would expect a higher quality of workmanship. 

I do have problems with seamed compression garments eg I can't wear a lot of the sporting compression brands as the seams leave me sore and bruised, but the seams on the gauntlet have been okay so far. There are brands that are seamless which may be of interest for those with sensitive skin (eg Jobst and Solidea).

(I thought initially that the lines going from thumb to wrist, were from folds but they are printed onto the fabric. With lighter patches in the block colour up in the junction of thumb and forefinger, wear the dye seems not to have taken.)
(Bunching at the wrist can be seen easily in this picture. And the rough thumb seam, especially at the ball of my thumb.)
(The wrist band is very loose and there is essentially no compression or even firmness for this and the bottom part of my palm.)

(The hemming of the thumb portion is quite rough and uneven. It had hard bundles of loose threads which I needed to remove before wear.)

But the big question is “Does it work?”:

The simple answer is, yes. Although it is hard to tell if I am getting the full benefit given the looseness of the lower hand and wrist portion. The painful swelling I have been experiencing, particularly in the top of my hand is lessened considerably. It is important to note that with good fit over my knuckles I had no issues with blood flow to my fingers, ie no swelling or discolouration, even after a full days wear.

I will continue to wear the gauntlet, given I purchased it knowing it was a no return item I need to get my moneys worth. And even a small improvement in the engorgement in my hand, and associated pain, is a good outcome.

I should add the product has wicking technology which draws away perspiration, which may be important for those who have hyperhydrosis. As I have anhidrosis I was unable to test this feature even though we are in the middle of a heatwave here in Australia.

My tips:

If you have the ability go to a store that sells the gauntlets, head in and view them in person. As someone who cannot easily get to the shops I rely on Internet shopping, but given this experience I would try and make my way to a distributor to see the product and try them on. I did attempt what I thought was my due diligence with 3 measurements, and reviewing the products on both the parent site and others, but in this case it was not enough.

If buying online, I would ensure that I could return the product if it didn't meet my expectations or was faulty. (If in Australia: I was also caught out in that the return policy was restricted to "from 30 days of purchase", given I didn't receive my gauntlet until after 30 days, my return policy was already null and void had this been an option). Admittedly, I may have become a little complacent given I have had no problems before, despite years of buying compression wear online.

If you are even slightly outside of normal it may pay to have a custom product created. I have long skinny arms with the wrists of a 10-year-old girl, it would seem this is not the norm, though I would have expected better fit given my measurements were within the Small sizing. If considering an armsleeve or more gauntlets in the future I would head down this route next time. 

*This site has a fantastic round up of tips and information about compression armsleeves and guantlets. Well worth a read before purchasing an upper limb garment.*

Compression wear of any type are an expensive investment. When money is tight, as it is when you are chronically ill, you have to be incredibly judicious in how it is spent. You want the most bang for your very limited buck. Sadly, despite my high hopes, this gauntlet did not match with it's price.

I did note from reading on the LympheDIVAs website that they are looking at reviewing sizing and even considering custom compression wear in the future. They also welcome feedback so I have penned an email and sent it off to the company. I am impressed that they are looking at introducing custom options, though I do wonder if the additional cost on an already expensive product, will make them prohibitive to many.

I do give LympheDIVAs a huge high five for introducing colour and pattern to the compression market which seems to have an unhealthy obsession with bland. It is the primary feature which drew me to their products initially.

I would be interested to hear from others who have purchased a gauntlet from LympheDIVAs or other brands. Did you encounter similar issues? Did you go down the customised route or buy mass produced? How many have moved onto upper limb compression?

Michelle :) 

2 comments:

  1. Hang on, abdominal pooling? I have never heard of this before. I finish every day horribly bloated (have been seriously thinking about getting one of the waist band expanders they make for pregnant women!) and often in quite a bit of pain. I always put it down to my dodgy digestion but I wonder if that is the only cause? Something to look into a chat to the doctors about - although I'm not sure about the Victorian corset-style garmet I imagine would be the solution!

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    Replies
    1. Abdominal pooling especially when we eat is common as too much blood pools to digestion and is why we often feel so symptomatic post eating (post prandial syncope etc). And apparently if you are more of a NCS/NMH picture then pooling can focus more in the abdomen than legs. Though having said that I have NCS as part of my package and my legs are pretty shocking these days. Given how sore my stomach is I'm not keen on pressure there. If you have gastric issues such as dysmotility or gastroparesis or food allergies and intolerances (I'll put my hands up to that too) that can make it hard to work out what is causing what.

      I do think the old Victorian corsets look cool, but I don't fancy having my stomach shoved up under my boobs ;) You can get elasticised abdominal binders from places that sell physiotherapy aides and even some chemists. :)

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