In this post I am going to explain in a simple way the basic concepts behind the world of pressotherapy, who can reap great benefits from it, how it can even be done at home and that it is not only for treating cellulite.
You will discover that there are professional devices on the market that are easy to use and very affordable that can help your friends and loved ones with problems with venous insufficiency and lymphatic problems by preventing such problems and stopping them from getting worse.
This is going to be another long post, but if you have the patience to read it all, I can guarantee you and the ones close to you will benefit from it.
Let’s get started!
Many people think pressotherapy is only suitable for the treatment of skin imperfections such as cellulite.
Pressotherapy is a therapeutic technique that has existed for many years, despite the lack of documented reliable research there is on PEMF therapy (for example). It is not only effective for the treatment of skin imperfections as is wrongly believed. Nowadays, doctors see it as extremely important in the treatment and maintenance of certain conditions affecting the venous and lymphatic system.
The main benefits, which we will see in more detail later, are the reduction in the stagnation of the venous and lymphatic flow in the part treated. This, for example, reduces the swelling from oedema. Other important benefits are its vasodilatory and anti-thrombotic action.
Therefore, in this post we are not going to discuss how to fight cellulite or orange peel skin. Instead, we will try to see how pressotherapy can help those currently struggling to live a normal life. The conditions we are going to talk about in a little while cause severe pain and tremendous difficulties in walking or getting around, without evening mentioning the embarrassment the aesthetic issues cause (e.g. oedema).
What is pressotherapy?
It is a therapeutic method used in medicine to exert compression on the lower and upper limbs, similar to the movements of a massage. This is done using a device that performs intermittent and sequential inflating of accessories (applicators) that wrap around the parts of the body to be treated.
This is all done following specific rules linked to the study of the body’s pathophysiology and the main laws of physics.
Aims of the therapy
It aims to alleviate the problems of swollen and aching legs, oedema, varicose veins, ulcers, etc. caused by problems of venous insufficiency. It also used with conditions affecting the lymphatic system, called lymphostasis, one of the most well-known being lymphedema.
This condition, for example, causes the build-up of fluids and proteins in the interstitial spaces of tissues, leading to swelling and deformation of the legs that take on an unattractive column-like appearance, which causes great discomfort for the sufferer.
The purpose of pressotherapy is to favour fluid transport inside the body, normalising venous circulation, removing lymphatic stasis and, therefore, to prevent related conditions.
In practice, pressotherapy replaces or supports the natural movement of flows associated with venous or lymphatic issues, or both at the same time.
Since the aforementioned flows travel through the lymph vessels and the veins following a path from the periphery of the limb to the heart, the correct operation cycle is therefore that of
DISTAL-PROXIMAL, which is from the periphery of the body towards the centre of the body.
That is why, out of all pressotherapy methods, one of the most suitable is the sequential one, which inflates and deflates the unit chambers from the periphery of the affected limb to its core.
This action simulates a circulatory massage and allows the emptying of stagnant fluids within the limb.
What does it do?
It uses special units (leggings, arm sleeves, abdominal belts, etc.) that contain pneumo-compression chambers that inflate thereby generating a controlled compression on the body parts concerned (limbs and abdomen). The various parameters are set and activated by the electronic-mechanical-pneumatic device that supplies the air flow at the right pressure, inflating and deflating the various chambers intermittently and sequentially.
In the photo above, you can see an example of our I-Press 4 with its applicators.
Main therapeutic indications
Below you will find a rather structured list of the diseases and conditions associated with this therapeutic area.
- Post-mastectomy arm drainage
- Recovery of muscle tone in immobilised or disabled patients (instead of massage)
- Treatment of hematoma after surgery
- Limb paralysis
- Postphlebitic syndrome
- Venous insufficiency
- Post-thrombotic syndrome
- Venous stasis
- Anti-cellulite treatment in the initial phase
- Heavy legs
- Passive compression in venous diseases
- Post-operative prophylaxis in venous thrombosis operations
- Widespread chronic venous oedema
- DVT prevention
- Bedridden patients
If you or your loved ones have similar issues found in one or more of these conditions, I suggest you continue reading this post. It will not doubt be useful for the future.
Here is a list of conditions and diseases for which it is better to actually avoid pressotherapy:
- Acute venous inflammation
- DVT – Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Malignant neoplasms
- Acute skin inflammation
- Artery occlusions
Now a moment of self-promotion. If you find this post helpful, share it with your friends and people who may need it. I would be infinitely grateful.
Without going too deep into the science behind it, it is important to remember that correct use of pressotherapy with professional medical devices leads to several benefits. These have been scientifically proven over the years and recently through a specific study carried out with our I-Press 4.
Some of the main ones include:
On a biochemical level, endothelial cells release substances that favour anti-thrombotic, dilator vessel and pro-fibrinolytic action in the area treated.
The movement of fluids increases the speed of blood flow (venous and lymphatic) reducing stagnation and retention processes.
Increased interstitial pressure reduces the lymphatic load, lymphatic flow increases visibly reducing the oedema.
Still on the topic of therapeutic benefits, I will briefly speak to you about a clinical study recently published and performed with our I-Press 4. It clearly demonstrates the incredible results that can be achieved with in-home pressotherapy.
CLINICAL STUDY WITH I-PRESS 4
Published in 2018, this is the first study in the world on the use of home-based pressotherapy in hypomobile patients with debilitating oedema, conducted by the Unità di Medicina Traslazionale dell’Ospedale Universitario di Ferrara.
The patients suffered from hypomobility due to:
- Neurological disease (multiple sclerosis)
- Severe obesity
- Severe osteoarthritis
The study, conducted on 50 patients, for 30 days, highlighted:
- Circumference reduction in the six detection points
- Band/skin thickness reduction
- Lower limb volume reduction (oedema not moved!)
- Joint ROM at the ankle improved
- Improved Quality of Life for all patients who performed the home cycle. Specifically, patients perceived better physical function, general health and mental health.
- Reduction of the presence of inflammatory cytokines (substances produced in an inflammatory state). This can be considered a marker, that is to say an indicator of predisposition to the disease or condition
Correct application pressure
This is still a hotly debated subject, but generally, in addition to having to follow the advice of our doctor, it is good practice to set the operating pressure between a quarter and half of the maximum power. This is to avoid damage to the lymphatic system, veins or capillaries.
Duration of treatments
Treatments range from 30 minutes to usually no more than two hours. The total number of sessions can vary considerably depending on the type and severity of the condition. To give you an example, it takes anywhere from a minimum of 5 hours to more than 15 hours per course of treatment in particular cases of lymphedema.
The daily frequency of sessions is, however, crucial in order to achieve effective fluid drainage results, and it should also be supported by other medical aids such as the use of elastic compression stockings, bandages and pharmacological therapy.
We are almost at the end of this post, but this is definitely the most important part, because the information I have provided so far is from the public domain and easily available on the web.
Whereas now we are going to make some specific considerations on the key aspects and the benefits you can achieve by doing pressotherapy at home. Together we will see the characteristics a home device must have to be used by “normal” people (not health professionals).
I believe there are three important factors to consider:
1. Device reliability
2. Ease of use
For the first one, I think it is easy to guess what I mean. It is necessary to use reliable and safe medical devices. In order to make sure you have made the right choice, you must check the CE marking is present. In addition, it is better to know the manufacturer and be sure that the pre and after sales support is reliable and of a high standard.
For point 2, simply think about who usually undergoes pressotherapy. The people often affected by the various diseases and disorders concerned are those of certain age who have little or no confidence with technology or experience with medical devices.
Fortunately, there are home therapy devices commercially available that do everything automatically. All the patient, or assisting family member, has to do is set the treatment time and the desired pressure level, which, as mentioned above, must be well below the maximum value allowed.
Once the parameters have been set, the device does the rest.
Given the above, practically anyone can use it.
Now more than ever, point 3 seems the most delicate to tackle.
Let me tell you something, there are highly professional pressotherapy devices that cost much, much less than half of those currently on the market.
I know what you are asking, “Yes, but how much exactly, is it much less than half?”
A good device that covers all the points I mentioned above starts from just over 500€, like our I-Press 4 with a legging. I know, not exactly peanuts, but it costs much less than models in the past. And, above all, it is paid back quickly if you think of the average session cost in a specialised centre.
Advantages of pressotherapy at home
I could dedicate an entire post to this, but I will just tell you the main advantages:
Consistency in therapy
We have seen before that, in addition to the use of other aids, it is essential to perform this therapy on a daily basis. Of course, being at home means it will be much easier to stick to this.
Here you only have to think about the type of conditions mentioned, the age of patients and the difficulty to get around, especially for long journeys. “At home” this problem no longer exists or it is drastically reduced.
Not everyone lives in the centre of a town or city and not everyone has a specialised centre just a few km from home. Not to mention the fact that not everyone has access to a car or transport and that travel expenses are an important part to consider in the overall budget. Being able to undergo a therapy without having to travel is a huge plus.
Another great benefit of owning an in-home pressotherapy device is that it can be used to greatly improve our general health. This is achieved by preventing or relieving a range of physical discomforts that weigh us down every day. Are you an office worker and sit at your desk all day? Are you a shop assistant on your feet from morning until evening? Are you overweight and do no sport or even walk very little?
One or a number of sessions will help you restore proper drainage of your body’s fluids by reactivating the entire circulation. You will eliminate all the ailments like tired and swollen legs, pins and needles due to poor circulation, etc.
Technology has made great strides and, fortunately, this has made access to therapy that was once available to the few, now available to the many. Both in terms of affordability and ease of use. Think about it!
Perhaps this aspect may seem a little irrelevant to you, but just think of all those people with advanced lymphedema, who are perhaps overweight. They may feel extremely uncomfortable having to go out and undergo therapy in a public setting. Treating yourself in a familiar setting is the simplest and most comfortable way.
I am sure you now see pressotherapy in a different light.
That is all for now! Have I been helpful? Thank you so much for reading my post. If you think that this short guide may help someone else learn a bit more, then please share it!