Saturday, October 26, 2013

What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?

What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (also called lymphatic massage, lymph massage, post liposuction massage, MLD massage ) is a gentle manual treatment technique that is based on 4 basic Vodder strokes: the “ stationary circle”, “pump”, “rotary”, and “scoop”. During your MLD treatment, your Certified Lymphedema Therapist will utilize these four basic techniques and other advanced techniques to active your healthy lymph notes and lymph vessels. This will create a “ suction effect”, which allow accumulated fluid to move from one area into another area with normal lymphatic drainage.

The goal of Manual Lymphatic Drainage is to reroute the stagnating fluid around blocked areas into healthy lymph vessels, which drains the lymph fluid into the venous system.

MLD is not to confuse with traditional Massage such as “Swedish” or “therapeutic massage”. In order to achieve muscle relaxation, massage is generally applied with considerably more pressure than MLD. With MLD, the amount of pressure is sometimes described as the pressure applied while stroking a newborn’s head. More pressure in this case does not mean better. Too much pressure could damage lymphatic structures and increase Lymphedema/edema.

Who can benefit from it?


            Post breast cancer surgery is the highest incidence of lymphedem. After the removal of lymph nodes by surgery, or/and the use of radiation therapy, the lymphatic system of arms/breasts has been damaged. It causes abnormal accumulation of water and proteins in subcutaneous tissues. If the condition left untreated, the swelling will continue to progress over time and present enlarged arm or breast. This will also increase the risk of developing shoulder pain, recurrent cellulites or infection, and social withdraw from abnormal looking arms.
             MLD is one of the important components of the treatment and control of Lymphedema. For Lymphedema care, the components of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) are: Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Compression Therapy, Decongestive Exercise, and Skin Care.
            Usually a CDT treatment for Lymphedema is about 3-6 weeks depends on what stage of lympehedme is. Generally, for the first 2 weeks, it is ideal to receive MLD 5 times a week.


            Whither you are having cosmetic surgery, total joint surgery, or other kinds of surgery. We encourage you and your physician to include MLD as part of your recovery plan as you will gain lots of benefits from MLD. Plus, through OTLife, Inc, with your physician’s prescription to OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY, MLD service is generally covered by most of insurance company.

            Prior to surgery, at least 1 MLD is recommended 24 hours before the surgery. It drains toxins, excesses fluids, and facilitates the immune system. During surgery, well-decongested tissues also help surgeons to see better and therefore help surgeons to make a clean cut and incision.  MLD prepared the body for the surgery and advanced the healing process.

            MLD can be performed as soon as 24 hours after the surgery to decrease edema, relieve numbness, remove bruising, reduce scarring, increase nutritional supply to the surgical site, and speed up the process of healing.

            Another great benefit of MLD is Pain Relieve. The soothing manual drainage technique provides a stimulus for the “gate-control theory” of Melzack and Wall.
This works best for pain caused by surgery, fibromyalgia, congested headache, and migraine.


            MLD can reduce edema retention in ankles and legs, boost immune system to prevent illness. Relieve pain and decrease stress during pregnancy.

General Contraindications for MLD
  • ·      Acute infection
  • ·      Thrombosis (blood clots)
  • ·      Malignant, untreated cancer

Precautions with MLD

  • ·      Infection
  • ·      Congestive heart failure (CHF)

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