Lymphatic Drainage Massage – also known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) – is a gently bodywork technique aimed at stimulating and supporting the lymphatic system.
I’m particularly passionate about this type of work having experienced issues with my own lymphatic system, and seen the benefits my clients have received from this type of work.
The lymphatic system comprises lymphatic vessels and lymph nodes in a network across the entire body. It can be described as the “garbage disposal system” of the body, removing excess fluid, toxins and other waste material from the body. I like to think of them as a transportation system just like the “Canals of Venice”! Other organs that form part of the lymphatic system include bone marrow, the thymus, the spleen and even the tonsils, meaning it is also linked to your immune system.
MLD encourages the movement of lymphatic fluid which in turn helps to reduce fluid retention which can lead to pain and discomfort due the internal compression that excess fluid build-up can cause. It’s important to note that this type of work is targeting the lymphatic system just underneath the skin, and not the muscles, and is therefore a very light pressured technique.
MLD can be helpful for a range of different lymphatic issues that can occur including:
- General fluid retention due to pregnancy or hot weather
- Mastectomy and other cancer surgical procedures where lymph nodes are compromised or removed
- Other post-surgical fluid retention from abdominoplasty (“tummy tucks”), liposuction, fat transfers, and breast enhancement or reduction.
The slow, repetitive strokes of MLD is additionally soothing and calming for the nervous system, and many clients report feeling relaxed and less anxious following a session. This is particularly beneficial for those who have experienced trauma related to their condition.
A series of weekly sessions over 4-8 weeks is common for my post-surgery clients. For those with ongoing lymphatic issues, MLD can support your lymphatic system and it therefore provides maintenance and management for your condition. For those with Lymph-oedema, the addition of bandaging and compression garments may also be needed.
A self-care routine that includes MLD, a healthy low-fat diet, good hydration, regular body brushing and movement/exercise will help to encourage lymphatic flow and support your lymphatic health.