This has become a controversial topic--part of the movement to debunk risk reduction behaviors, as those who would advocate that compression garments don’t protect women at risk against the onset of lymphedema with air travel, cite that the literature hasn’t proven compression to be helpful—but we need to look carefully at the one or two studies out there, and the concern that poorly fitting compression could be harmful.
A careful review of the literature provides no proof that compression garments can harm women at risk for lymphedema or that air travel presents no risk for lymphedema.
At the 2010 NLN Conference: Sheila Ridner was speaking on the controversies around risk reduction behaviors and said “When you sit in a lymphedema support group and woman after woman tells of air flight triggering lymphedema, it’s hard to ignore.” Two of the directors of this site had their lymphedema begin after air travel: and they were “low risk”.
If you have lymphedema, there’s no controversy: you should fly with compression—ideally wrapped, or at the very least, with a glove and sleeve.
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