Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD), sometimes referred to as Manual Lymph Massage or Lymph Drainage Therapy, is a specialized manual technique that helps stimulate lymphatic flow through the body. This procedure can be very relaxing because stimulating the lymph activates the parasympathetic nervous system, thus making you feel calm and may even fall asleep during the therapy session. MLD is an essential part of the healing process after cosmetic or vein surgery, for both body and mind.
MLD is often recommended after undergoing both non-surgical and surgical body contouring procedures as it can speed up healing and enhance procedure results. It should be noted that MLD has been proven to have positive results in the healing process after a surgical and non-surgical body contouring procedures or vein procedures. Some of the procedures that our patients have undergone include, but not limited to Phlebectomy, Thrombectomy, Endovenous Laser treatment (EVLT), CoolSculpting, Liposuction, Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty),
MLD Vs Traditional Massage
MLD is different from the traditional massage such as a deep tissue massage. MLD involves a gentle and rhythmic technique that prevents inflammation, reduces swelling, and improves bruising. Traditional massage such as a deep tissue massage on the other hand often does the opposite because it increases circulation towards an area of soreness, which can exacerbate swelling and bruising. The gentle massage technique at the skin layer encourages fluids away from the surgical site, and back towards the lymph nodes for improved lymph flow.
WHY is MLD IMPORTANT AFTER SURGERY
In order to explain the many reasons why MLD is important, it should be noted the function of the Lymphatic system.
The lymphatic circulatory system works to maintain a healthy balance of blood and fluid in the body. Without a properly flowing lymph system, there is a significant risk of increased protein rich fluid right under the skin layer that eventually causes fibrosis- a hardening of the tissue that occurs when inflammation is left unchecked, Papillomatosis.
Surgical procedures and some non-surgical procedures, such as radiation for cancer treatment can damage lymph vessels. This causes inflammation and a buildup of fluid in the areas targeted by surgery. MLD facilitates the excess fluid back into the lymphatic system.
- MLD CAN SPEED UP RECOVERY
MLD can speed up your post-surgery recovery. When a lymphatic system is circulating properly, it activates the immune system, because the Lymph carries white blood cells throughout the body to help with healing and fight infection. The lymphatic system protects the body from pathogens, microorganisms, and toxins.
- MLD FOR PAIN RELIEF
MLD can reduce pain as the circulation increases and swelling goes down. The gentle technique of the MLD also triggers a relaxation response in the body and soothes the mind for added pain relief.
- MLD FOR SCARRING MANAGEMENT
Scarring occurs when the body works ‘too hard’ to carry new connective tissue to the area. Circulating lymph brings immune cells to the area which clear away damaged cells and dead tissue. This helps the body heal more efficiently.
Self Manual Lymphatic Drainage
During a MLD session, your certified lymphatic therapist (CLT) will perform techniques to move the lymph towards the lymph nodes for improved lymphatic flow in the body. The session usually lasts 60 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on the plan of care. Plan of care ranges from 1x per week to 5x per week. The sessions will include education on self MLD and compression garment, as needed.
Always get clearance from your physician on how soon you can begin MLD after a surgical procedure.
Do YOU NEED MLD FROM A CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL?
Self MLD can be effective using the handout provided by your practitioner. However, it is important to note that a certified professional is better trained and is able to analyze how your procedure affects your body, and exactly how your lymph is flowing. Certified lymphatic therapists work with a technique called Manual Lymphatic Mapping in which they identify the exact pathways through your body that the lymph prefers, creating anastomoses (new pathways, as needed) to guide lymph drainage to those specific areas.