The lymphatic system

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) is an advanced medical skin technique which involves moving the skin over the underlying tissues using gentle repetitive and circular movements. It was discovered and developed by Dr. Emil and Estrid Vodder in the 1920’s and 1930’s in Paris. They then went on to train others in the late 1940’s. Training in this method is hard and requires a lot of practice to perfect what is a very precise technique. When performed correctly, MLD can produce rapid and visible results on the body.

What is the Lymphatic System?

Described in 1654 as “A system which purifies the body and regulates irritation, swelling and oedema.” (Thomas Bartholin), the lymphatic system is a network of nodes, ducts and vessels that create and transport lymph from the tissues into the blood. It is also a main component of the immune system. Lymph is made up of white blood cells, lymphocytes, and fluid from the intestines. The nodes are located in specific clusters in the body – the neck, armpit, groin and in the centre of the chest. Normally they cannot be felt, but in times of infection they can be swollen and palpable because the lymph nodes increase the level of white blood cells to fight infection and this results in the swelling of the node.

How does MLD work?

The MLD therapist stimulates the lymph vessel walls which causes the lymph system to cleanse the body and reduce swelling and to strengthen the immune system. The stimulated lymph system then clears excess cells and debris, resulting in a clearer and cleaner skin and body. The technique is very gentle and very relaxing and patients report a sense of well-being and calm after MLD. No oils or creams are used, so it is perfect for those with sensitive skin and also safe for pregnant women as well. It helps to remove ‘debris’ from the body and improves the appearance of the area treated by reducing any fluid build up that contributes to swelling or a ‘puffy’ appearance. It is a decongestant for the whole body, providing a total detox that no other treatment can provide. All types of massage are too deep and too hard to assist lymph drainage, and diet will not remove lymph from the lymph nodes. Nor will other techniques such as using heat and Ice treatments, hence the need for the gentle manual stimulation.

How is it used pre and post surgery?

MLD can help to reduce swelling and inflammation caused by any accident or trauma, including surgery. In so doing, it aids healing and prevents fluid retention. It can also help in pain control, reducing the need for pain relief. The boost that MLD gives to the immune system aids in recovery of any trauma to the body by quickening the transport system of debris removal and helps to fight any infection.