Experience report - taping for lipedema / lymphedema

K-taping ('K' from Greek Kinesis = movement) supplements and supports the therapies of the KPE (MLD, compression, nutrition, movement and self-management) for the decongestion of lymphedema.

During my rehab in the Reinhardshöhe Clinic In Bad Wildungen I got to know and use taping. My main problem is painful water retention at the transition from the thigh to the groin and on the abdomen, which were reduced by the daily manual lymphatic drainage, but could not be bandaged well. The compression stocking prevents the legs from becoming fat, but the high-cut stomach part of tights or Bermuda shorts pushes the lymph fluid further up into the upper stomach and chest area and into the upper arms. Decongestion gymnastics and taping have helped me a lot since rehab.

The edema arose after several abdominal operations in which first a tumor and then 50 lymph nodes and the abdominal network were removed. I lack a functioning sewage network in my stomach, so to speak. So that the lymph can be transported away from the congested regions, I get MLD once a week, wear compression tights every day and do sports to activate the muscle pump: 1x endurance sports (5h Nordic walking or treadmill training), 1x strength training with dumbbells and equipment, 4x aqua jogging and daily decongestion exercises for arms and legs.

The aim of taping is to relieve pain and reduce the swelling of the edema. How can this be achieved?

By applying lymph tapes to the thighs and abdomen after the MLD, the skin is gently massaged by the tapes: As with bandaging and wearing compression stockings, pushing the lymph fluid works most effectively when you are moving. Actually totally logical, because if you do NOT move, then there is only a reduced lymphatic drainage. This in turn causes the edema to swell, which irritates the pain receptors in the skin. The massage effect that the silicone adhesive applied in waves on the underside of the tape achieves on the skin causes a pleasant tingling sensation or - as I felt it - flowing! and a reduction in pain.

Controlled movement like in weight training with the tapes also improves joint and muscle function. I noticed the decrease in pain in the thighs and groin very clearly from the first application!

Tapes are usually applied by physiotherapists, but taping can also be carried out in many places according to instructions. At this point, many thanks to my physios at the Reinhardshöhe Clinic for the information material and practical instructions!

But now to the taping practice: How do I even go about it?

I get elastic K-tape and make sure that it is from German manufacturers who guarantee consistently good quality of materials and manufacture so that the risk of skin irritation is minimized. There are tapes in pharmacies and medical supply stores - I ordered tapes directly from the manufacturer Schug Medical. Pio Sport was used in rehab: It is made of viscose material and is somewhat more supple than Schug's cotton fabric. Both are air-permeable and adhere equally well: They always stick for about a week until they come off by themselves despite showering, bathing and swimming. Caution: Don't rub, it's better to blow dry! And peeling off the skin works best when bathing or showering when the tape is wet.

The tape strips are elastic in the longitudinal direction. In order to get a restoring force in the transverse direction, the acrylic adhesive is applied in waves on the back. This achieves the desired massage effect. This effect becomes visible when the tape begins to curl slightly after showering or swimming - these wrinkles are deliberate and have an improved effect in connection with movement, an increase in space between the skin and subcutaneous tissue, which makes it easier for the lymph to drain away.

Which color do i choose? K-tapes are mostly available in red, blue, green and yellow. Red is considered to be activating (after the MLD, I do NOT use it on painful or swollen areas!), Blue is calming and decongestant (I use it for pain), green is supposed to have a regenerating effect, yellow is supposed to stimulate - many swear by it. It has not been scientifically proven, but colors are known to help lighten the mood, and of course I am happy to accept this 'side effect' - I also love my colored compromises and bandage myself in bright colors!

tapen lipoedem mode lymphoedem

Cutting: I determine the length of the strip by placing it on the area to be treated. With Lymphtapen, the strip is cut in the shape of a fan, that is, the 5 cm wide tape is cut into four strips up to 2 cm, which remain as a base.

Important: The corners must be cut round with scissors, otherwise the tape will peel off prematurely at the edges and roll up.

The carrier film is peeled off first at the base, then the Base glued on where the lymph should flow off! in the direction of the lymph collection basin - very important! Example: I want to decongest my thighs, the lymph should drain into the groin - so I glue the base in the groin area if the lymph nodes are intact - on my stomach because I lack the lymph nodes in the groin. Let your physiotherapists show you this and look at the boards about the lymph flow in the network!

tapen lipoedem mode lymphoedem

Then I lie on my back so that the area to be taped remains stretched out, loosen the paper from the first narrow strip, strip it from the base to the end with light pressure down to the thigh, but without stretching the strip! I do the same with the three remaining strips. They don't have to be applied in a straight line as with a ruler - on the contrary: The strips can be laid in slight curves, because this increases the movement. You can find sample pictures and videos on the Internet under Lympftapen. There is not much you can do wrong except confusing the direction or applying the tape with tension. Then rub your hand several times over the tape strips so that the glue holds better due to the heating.

taping lipoedem fashion lymphoedem taping

The following always applies:

Use thin strips for lymph taping and apply the base in the direction of flow, do not pre-stretch.

The elasticity of the tapes is comparable to the self-stretching of the skin, and K-Tape is already applied to the carrier film with 10% pre-stretch. For other areas of application such as feet, calves, abdomen, chest and upper arms, ask your physiotherapist for instructions or books and also watch the videos on the Internet. The visit to the Lip and Lymph Congress in Fritzlar on April 28, 2018, where lectures were given on this very topic, was also very informative for me.

A big advantage of taping: it works on the body without medication.

It must not be used in cases of thrombosis, problems with heart and kidney diseases, carcinomas, fever and diabetes.

My motto: "Stay tuned"!

So much for my personal experience with taping. I hope that it can help you too against ailments that lymph and lip / lymphedema unfortunately bring with them. Obtaining comprehensive information and exchanging ideas about the disease can be courageous and also fun. 

Greetings from

the Ursula

If you liked the article, Caroline would be very happy if you could buy her a virtual cup of coffee!

Lit .: Kumbrink, Birgit; K - Taping, practical manual for physiotherapists
Basics, investment techniques, indications
Heidelberg 2009, Sprenger Medizin Verlag
ISBN 13-978-3-642-20741-9

Tape: Schug Medical Service GmbH, Karlsplatz 10, 92676 Eschenbach, www.schug-medical.de

ursula thomé

Author: Ursula Thomé

Hello, I am Ursula Thomé, born in 1956 and had several abdominal operations in 2016, after which secondary lymph edema developed. I live with my husband and three children near Rothenburg ob der Tauber, sing and play bass in several bands, give tutoring in Latin and do voluntary work in geriatric care. Music and sport are my passion. I've been wearing compression tights for a year, and Caroline's lipedema blog and the valuable information helped me a lot in overcoming many obstacles and problems in connection with my edema. I love my colored compromises - preferably animal print or flowers with a rocking outfit (also open on stage) - they don't restrict me, but they help, decorate, underline my clothes and my mood and enable me to continue an active and fulfilled life . 

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  • Dear Ursel,

    Thank you for this high quality article (with good photos and reference to the source) great,

    Best regards,
    Christina — Rick

  • Dear Ursula, since September 2019 I have been in a similar situation after a large longitudinal incision and removal of the lymph nodes in the pelvis and stomach. They pointed out to me that unfortunately my problem could not be solved with compression, since then I have been living from one lymph drainage appointment to the next, as the congestion in the groin and in the pubic area is very painful and annoying. Thank you very much for this article, maybe this will also be a solution for me to find my way back to a halfway normal everyday life.
    Love from,

    • Hello dear Marietta, thank you very much for your touching feedback - I wrote you an email because I believe that you can be helped even more!
      Warm regards,
      Your Ursula

  • Dear Ursula,
    thanks for the interesting contribution! But I don't quite understand the instructions. It means: the base in the * bar * and then glue the 4 strips up to the thighs without pulling. In the photo with the green tapes, the base is not in the bar, but on the side above the waist and goes up to the Thighs. (??)
    Would you like to say something about that again?
    Thank you. Greetings, Billie

  • Hallo,
    Lymph taping is really a great thing (provided you are not allergic to the tape like me), but it is best to have a physio show you. The system is sometimes a bit tricky, the skin should be pre-stretched, so you may have to be quite flexible or have a third hand to help. The attachment points are also slightly different, depending on whether someone has been operated on and possibly the lymph nodes have been damaged / removed. A badly or incorrectly glued tape will not cause any damage, but it will not help either and may irritate the skin unnecessarily.
    So talk to your physio and let them show you.