What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage?Lymphatic drainage is a highly specialised massage technique which is designed to achieve and maintain proper functioning of the lymph system. There are several different methods of lymphatic drainage – Chikly, Leduc, Casley-smith and the more frequently used and best known, Vodder. Our specialist, Lynsey is qualified in Vodder Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) techniques.
What it the lymph?The lymphatic system is part of our immune system which helps to cope with infection by detoxifying and cleansing the body’s tissues. Lymph vessels rely upon hundreds of tiny muscular units called lymphangions which contract throughout the lymph vessels to help the flow of lymph fluid which allows the transport of substances such as proteins, toxins, hormones, fatty acids and immune cells to the lymph nodes, which process them. There are 400-700 nodes in the human body with nearly half of them located in the abdomen.
There are also many nodes located in the neck. The main groups of nodes are found in the major articulation folds of the body such as armpits and groin. Lymph nodes have the following functions:
- removal of toxins and dead cells
- concentration of the lymph fluid
- filtration and purification of lymph fluid
- producion of lymphocytes (immune cells).
Once it has passed through these nodes, the lymph fluid will then drain into the venous system and will be removed from the body as urine via the kidneys. If there is damage anywhere along the lymph system because of surgery or trauma, the circulation can stagnate resulting in an accumulation of fluids, proteins, cells and toxins.
Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) –This became known in 1935 as a result of Dr Emil Vodder and his wife’s time in Cannes, France who were working as massage therapists. They had English patients who were recovering from persistent colds, whom they discovered had swollen lymph nodes in their necks. At that time massage therapists did not treat the lymphatic system, but Vodder treated the swollen nodes and the colds vanished. As a result, he developed MLD.
Lymphatic drainage is a careful and gentle technique. Lymphatic vessels are less than 1mm in diameter on average. As a result, lymphatic drainage must be performed slowly and gently although be strong enough to stretch the skin gently in the desired drainage direction but never compress the lymphatic vessels.
Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage
Lymphatic drainage can prove beneficial in a number of ways:
- immune system stimulation
- reduction in oedema (swelling)
- regeneration of tissues (e.g., from burns and pre & post surgical scarring)
- reduction of symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
- pain relief
- deep relaxation to aid insomnia, depression and stress,
- treatment and control of lymphoedema
Lymphatic drainage for pre and post surgeryLymphatic drainage can encourage tissue regeneration, so reducing the formation and severity of scars which can be unsightly and sometimes painful. Treatment can be as soon as 24 hrs after surgery, with consent from the doctor and no contra-indications. After surgery, lymphatic pathways will be distinctly different – studies show that it takes between seven and ten days for natural functioning of the lymphatic vessels to be re-established. Probably the most significant benefit of applying lymphatic drainage after surgery is to prevent or alleviate oedema or swelling. Swelling can cause pain and encourage infection.
Pre and post surgical applications of lymphatic drainagePre-surgery: 1-3 treatments recommended. Benefits may include:
- preparation of tissue for surgery,
- reduction in oedema and swelling- may allow surgery sooner,
- stimulation of immune system,
Post-surgery: As soon as 24hrs after surgery. Benefits may include:
- reduction in post-surgical oedema,
- encourages lymphatic ‘re-routs’,
- reduction in pain,
- body tissue detoxification to help reverse build-up of toxins that are secondary to effects of medication,
- fluid circulation stimulation,
- immune system stimulation and prevention of post-surgical infections,
- improvement in skin regeneration and wound healing to optimises the scarring process.
What are the results?
Postoperative lymphatic drainage can require between two and eight sessions. Good results in reduction of oedema will be noticed in the first 2 sessions, as long as there is no other untreated factor stimulating swelling. Lymphatic drainage can ease patient’s recovery from surgery and enhance overall health and wellbeing. You will be advised on your consultation as to the appropriate number of sessions that would suit you best.
MLD is particularly recommended for the following Surgery Procedures:
MLD at LBPS is carried out by our specialist Lynsey.
TESTIMONIAL“I was pleasantly surprised, after just one treatment the majority of swelling was gone. I also found the treatment to be incredibly relaxing and soothing, which is a bonus.”Thanks,
“I had the pleasure of a series of MLD treatments pre and post-op from Lynsey. I write to express my gratitude and delight that you include MLD in your care package as I can see and feel the difference it has made to my recovery from major surgery. Lynsey is attentive and quick to ascertain where the focus should be. She has a wonderfully calm manner too. I have experience of previous surgery without MLD and know that this treatment has resulted in reduced swelling and increased the speed of my recovery. Thank you Lynsey!”