Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage (MLD) 

Is a massage technique that encourages the natural drainage of lymph which carries metabolic waste from the tissues to be recycled through the bloodstream. This is a particularly useful technique for addressing edema (swelling). While MLD may be incorporated during a massage to address conditions like swollen ankles and feet, or to address swelling due to an injury, most commonly, it is recommended post-surgery.

Replacement Joint Surgery:

Lymphatic Drainage Massage
After replacement joint surgery, your doctor will prescribe physical therapy. You will be given exercises for strength building, as well as massage and stretching. It is imperative that you continue as prescribed by your doctor. Please, for your own health and future mobility, complete your physical therapy. After your physical therapy, you may continue to have occasional swelling and tightness due to scar tissue buildup. Therapeutic Massage and Lymphatic Drainage Massage will help you in addressing swelling and breaking up scar tissue buildup. Consult your physician if your condition worsens.

Cosmetic Surgery:

Lymphatic Drainage Massage Your surgeon may advise you to find a licensed massage therapist for lymphatic drainage massage after receiving cosmetic surgery such as abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), breast augmentation, or liposuction. These surgeries can be very painful and result in extreme swelling and bruising. MLD assists in decreasing the swelling and bruising. Your surgeon will advise you how quickly to receive massage, but it can be in as little as 48-72 hours.

A good place to search for and find your surgeon, as well as to discuss options and results with other clients is a site called Real Self: is advised that you choose your licensed massage therapist pre-surgery and that you secure your first several appointments. You will be treated 2-3 times a week for the first 6-8 weeks so you will want to ensure that you are compatible, and you understand the scheduling and pricing.

After a few weeks, your swelling should be minimal, provided you continue with your regular massage schedule. After this point, many are tempted to stop massage treatment. You will be healing for about 6 months to a year, and you will need to continue with massage to ensure that you do not develop significant scar tissue buildup. Therapeutic Massage and Lymphatic Drainage Massage will help you in addressing swelling and breaking up scar tissue buildup. This phase of massage can be spread out to a once a week treatment, and possibly even longer if you are healing properly.

Some conditions you may observe during this phase include:

  • Bloated feeling tightness around the incision site or liposuction entry site 
  • Wrinkled or lumpy appearance rounded belly and tight channels along the sides 
These may or may not appear during the course of your treatment. Continued massage will help shape the eventual look that you seek by breaking up the scar tissue and tightness in the myofascial layer. Your timeline for treatment may be shorter or longer depending upon your rate of healing. Consult your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns.

Scar Repair:

Lymphatic Drainage Massage If it has been many years since your surgery, and you continue to have tightness or are unhappy with the appearance of your scar, massage therapy may help. Scar tissue that forms during healing can be broken up to allow for a smoother appearance.

Further Reading:

  • Dr. Vodder School International 
  • National Institutes of Health
  • Wikipedia
  • Massage Advancer 

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