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Jul 10, 2011 11:41AM
Cookie, no breasts here, but I have similar problems with chest LE. Best help for me is Lebed exercises. I wish I just did them every day, but I'm not that consistent. When it bugs me, though, I get right back at it and it helps enormously, and right away.
I've tried the Bellisse and didn't like the fit, though some women find it helpful.
Best help for me during the day is either the bra or the Slimmer from WearEase. I wear the Slimmer inside out as it's easier to access the prosthesis pocket, and it cuts down on "bridging" from the height of the prosthesis, but they're so well made you can wear them comfortably either way.
For night, the Expand-a-band chest wrap works, but I'm more comfortable in a Solaris vest -- gentle compression, wide shoulders so it covers the area behind the axilla too, but you can have it designed any way you want. It's hot, so I stow it in the fridge during the day and put it on cool.
Not having breasts anymore, I can also use a between-the-ribs finger massage my therapist taught me that stimulates the deeper lymphatics, and that helps too. When I'm having trouble I also resort to clearing neck nodes and chest (MLD) several times throughout the day.
Like you, my arm swelling seems to be related to the truncal swelling. If the top of the sleeve is too tight it causes a chest flare (and pain -- yuck). I don't know why that is. It doesn't make sense to me as far as how the lymph system operates, but nothing about LE makes much sense.
Can't use kinesio tape because of severe skin sensitivity in the chest area to adhesives.
I use either "chocolate bar" hard foam pieces or a kimbe swell spot to control flares, depending on how aggressive I need to be.
Weather affects this for me. Barometric pressure, heat, and humidity all complicate my life. Also overuse of my arm.