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Treatment of Lymphedema Pages

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Sleeves.Gauntlets and Gloves
Breast Compression
Night Time Garments
Swell Spots, Foam Padding, Chip Bags
Skin and Nail Care
Patient Education--Self-Management
Kinesio Taping
Compression Pumps
Nutrition and Diet
Low Level Laser Therapy
Lymph Drainage Gas Ionization
Alternative Medicine
Other Unproven Modalities








Standard Treatment of Lymphedema--Swell Spots™, Foam Padding, Chip Bags

Swell Spots, Foam Padding and Chip Bags

Hardened areas under the skin on the arm, hand, or trunk may indicate fibrosis. The high concentration of protein in stagnant lymph fluid is irritating to the tissues close to the skin, and the body forms fibrous areas there in reaction to it. In most cases this hardness can be broken up and the skin returned to its usual softness by the use of special "chip bags," shredded foam layered between two pieces of fabric that are shaped to fit the area where they are needed.

Click here for an explanation as to how and why Swell Spots™, foam padding and chip bags work.

Chip bags are used by therapists as part of a program of Complete Decongestive Therapy whenever they are called for. Besides helping with fibrosis, they can provide gentle added compression to pockets of fluid that have been resistant to regular massage and compression. Many therapists make chip bags themselves, using specially purchased quantities of foam chips and soft fabrics such as Polartec Power-Dry.

If you find fibrosis developing after therapy is complete, you can make your own chip bags to deal with the problem, but be sure to consult with your therapist to be certain your planned chip bag has all the features you need.

Chip bags can also be bought ready-made, in shapes and sizes to fit many needs. Commercially made chip bags may be referred to as pads made by JoviPak or Swell Spots™ made by Solaris/Tribute. Some are small and shaped to fit into the palm or back of your hand, while others fit snugly under your arm or over your breast.  We show examples of how these chip bags are used for breast lymphedema at our Breast Binders page.

All chip bags, pads or Swell Spots™ are worn directly against the skin, under either compression wrapping or compression garments. 

Always "promote" your lymph flow with manual lymph drainage massage before donning any of your compression garments.

Another product that can help reduce fibrosis or areas of excess swelling is foam sheets, some smooth and firm and others textured in a variety of patterns.  example, shown on the left, is called a "chocolate bar," for obvious reasons.  Others are "spaghetti foam"  (shown right) and porous "gray foam., shown below."    All of these, and a variety of similar products, can be cut to fit any area that calls for special attention. Again, be sure to check with your therapist for advice about the best kind of foam product for your needs and the proper way to cut and wear it.


Lymphedema-specific bras, custom foam-chip vests, and pre-made chip pads are available to assist with maintaining the positive results of Complete Decongestive Therapy. The key to success is regular, consistent compression on the trunk/chest wall or other problem area with daily self-manual lymphatic drainage and foam support when needed.

As an example of how these foam pads can help, especyially with the very difficult to treat breast/chest/truncal lymphedema, please see our pictures at our Breast Binders page.

We are also including a picture here of how the Swell Spots™ can be easily used in a long-line mastectomy bra, with coverage of the lateral area, the cleavage and a pad being inserted into the mastectomy pocket for coverage of the entire breast area.

Above bra is Trulife Chelsea Lace Long-Line Softcup Mastectomy Bra 098.



Page Last Modified 09/29/2015

All medical information presented on this page is the opinion of our Editorial Board and Experts.  See our "About us"  and "Resources" pages.