Manual Lymphatic Drainage
We all have a small amount of fluid (lymph) in our body tissues. This fluid leaves our blood system to provide water and nourishment to the tissues. Most of this fluid is collected by a system of drainage tubes, similar to blood vessels, called the lymphatic system.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is very gentle, ‘light touch’ form of massage based on light, rhythmical, very precise hand movements, which works to help re-circulate body fluids and stimulate functioning of the immune system. MLD is a specialised massage technique that should only be practised by trained therapists.
Breathing techniques are also an important part of this treatment.
MLD was developed by Dr. Emil and Estrid Vodder in the 1930’s following many years of research into the lymphatic system. Vodder method is one of the most popular and is today used in many countries throughout the world.
MLD may be used as part of your:
• Lymphoedema treatment DLT
• Lipoedema Treatment DLT
• Plastic Surgeries
• Cosmetic Surgeries
MLD and Lymphoedema
Lymphoedema is a long-term (chronic) condition that causes swelling in the body's tissues. It can affect any part of the body, but usually develops in the arms or legs. This happens when the lymphatic system, which normally drains the fluid away, isn’t working properly.
There are two type of Lymphoedema:
• Primary lymphoedema
• Secondary lymphoedema
There's no cure for lymphoedema, but it's usually possible to control the main symptoms using techniques to minimise fluid build-up and stimulate the flow of fluid through the lymphatic system.
There are four components recommended as a treatment for lymphoedema:
• Compression bandages – to complement exercise by moving fluid out of the affected limb and minimise further build-up.
• Skin care – to keep the skin in good condition and reduce the chances of infection.
• Exercises – to use muscles in the affected limb to improve lymph drainage.
• (MLD) Manual Lymphatic Drainage specialised massage techniques - this stimulates the flow of fluid in the lymphatic system and reduces swelling. The aim of MLD is to move fluid from the swollen area into a place where the lymphatic system is working normally.
MLD and Plastic - Cosmetic surgery
According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, more and more people are making the decision to enhance their appearance through cosmetic surgery. Some of the most popular procedures opted for by men and women include breast augmentation, eyelid, face and neck lifts, liposuction and rhinoplasty.
A downside of cosmetic surgery is the initial after effects, such as swelling and bruising, which are experienced by patients post surgery. The time it takes for the skin to recover can differ from person to person due to many factors such as age, general health, lifestyle etc, however, a course of MLD treatment makes the healing process MUCH faster.
What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage and how can it help?
Described as “One of the best kept secrets on the health and beauty scene”, MLD’s intensely relaxing effect masks the strength of the treatment itself. It is a very gentle, light touch massage that improves the efficiency of the lymphatic system – the body’s waste disposal system. Specific and gentle movements of the skin stimulate and increase the rate of removal of waste products, toxins and excess fluid from the body’s tissues. MLD is regularly prescribed to improve healing and reduce recovery time after cosmetic surgery. Treatment pre and post surgery is often recommended to get the lymphatic system in peak condition to help reduce the swelling and bruising, keep it operating at optimum levels to accelerate the healing process, encourage better scar formation and ultimately reveal the new you in less time.
The MLD Treatment – what to expect
The first visit to a trained MLDUK practitioner will include a consultation during which the therapist will recommend the number and frequency of future sessions. Each session will last approximately one hour. Where appropriate the therapist will work in conjunction with your medical practitioner.
At an MLD session you will be asked to remove some of your clothing and lie down on the treatment bed where you will be covered in towels to keep you warm. You are now in the qualified hands of your MLD therapist, so lie back and enjoy one of the most relaxing treatments you have ever experienced. As no oils or powders are used it is completely safe even for those with sensitive skin.
Are there any side effects to the treatment?
There are usually no bad side effects and it is perfectly safe to eat before and after a MLD treatment. It helps to drink some water after your treatment and you may need to go to the toilet more often, as the re-energised lymphatic system starts to recycle excess fluid and waste. After an MLD treatment, you should feel more relaxed and clear headed!
MLD can be used at a very early post-operative stage (usually after 2-3 days post surgery)
• Swellings, bruises and oedema are reduced quickly
• The healing process is accelerated (those who don't have MLD usually have a longer recovery time)
• Scarring and build-up of nodules are significantly reduced
• Tissue quality is improved and better visible results are achieved
• Fat residues (in case of liposuction) are quickly absorbed and processed by the lymphatic system
• Local inflammation is inhibited
• Pain is decreased
What type of surgery can benefit from MLD?
• Liposuction (all types; e.g. vaser-, tumescent-, water-jet-assisted etc)
• Facelifts and facial reconstructions
• Abdominoplasty (e.g. after gastric band operation and fast weighloss; pregnancy)
• Nose-reshaping (rhinoplasty)
• Brow-and eye lid surgery (blepharoplasty)
• Breast augmentation
An intensive course of treatments is usually recommended. This will include MLD combined with Deep Oscillation (a pleasant, non-invasive treatment which strengthens and heals tissues using vibration generated by an electrostatic field).
Branislava Ilic - Manual Lymphatic Drainage practitioner