MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage)
MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) is a specialist form of gentle and rhythmical pressure massage focused on precise locations of the body designed to encourage the body’s natural drainage and removal of excess fluid and waste products from body tissues. It is commonly used as a way to control conditions like lipoedema or lymphoedema in which bodily tissues swell or retain fluid, but a course of the treatment is also recommended after Liposuction and other cosmetic surgery procedures. It is available at several of our nationwide bases, including at our Bristol clinic.
The lymphatic system is our body’s way of filtering excess fluid, toxins and waste. It is part of the circulatory system and is comprised of a network of very fine lymphatic vessels, which are somewhat similar to blood vessels. The system relies on a natural rhythm to circulate a clear substance called lymph which has a multitude of purposes, but sometimes this rhythm can be disrupted.
When we have surgery or liposuction, the body’s natural reaction is to produce a cushion of fluid around the damaged area to protect it during healing, which is why we experience swelling. While the body will normally remove this fluid over time, occasionally the lymphatic system can struggle to do so quickly enough; meaning pockets of fluid become trapped creating hard, uneven areas (experienced as lumps).
Lipoedema is a little known condition whose causes are currently still not properly understood. Those suffering with the condition have an abnormal and disproportionate, but symmetrical build-up of fat cells in certain areas, most commonly the legs and hips. Sufferers are mostly female and causes are linked to hormones and genetics. Occasionally these expanding fat cells block the lymphatic vessels, preventing proper drainage of lymph fluid which results in swelling and pain in the area.
Lymphoedema occurs after abnormal development or damage to the lymphatic system. It is a condition that some are born with, but many develop it after an infection or injury – particularly after cancer treatment. In Lymphoedema the lymphatic system does not work properly, leading to a build up of lymph in body tissues which causes swelling in the area. The condition can occur anywhere on the body, but is commonly seen on the arms and legs. Because the swelling produced is asymmetric, many suffers find that a single limb experiences symptoms of the condition, while the other is still a natural size with no pain.
MLD is a very specialised massage in which light, rhythmical pressure is used in extremely precise locations to help make the lymphatic system work more efficiently.
MLD massage has a variety of effects on the body:
- It acts as a decongestive by removing waste products and toxins from our tissues.
- It is both relaxing and calming – the rhythmical massage movements enhance the parasympathetic part of the nervous system.
- By reducing pain receptor signals from the body’s tissues, MLD can also reduce pain.
After Liposuction or surgery MLD helps to unblock and drain damaged areas, thus preventing fluid becoming trapped. Depending on what treatment you’ve had and where it has been performed will affect how many sessions you will need, but a rough outline would be:
- Arms: 3 sessions
- Abdomen: 5-10 sessions
- Flanks: 5-10 sessions
- Outer and inner thighs: 3-5 sessions
- Chin and face: 3-5 sessions
As Lipoedema and Lymphoedema are chronic conditions which can never fully be healed, MLD Massage may need to be a more regular consideration. The frequency and duration of Manual Lymphatic Drainage sessions will depend on your particular condition and its severity. Your therapist or doctor will be able to advise you on your individual case, and will set up a long-term care plan to ensure your condition is managed.
Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage is commonly used in conjunction with other treatments for the best results. Your specialists will advise you on the best combination of treatments for your condition and needs.
Benefits of MLD massage:
- It is a relaxing treatment.
- It promotes the healing of fractured or torn ligaments and sprains.
- It can help improve chronic conditions such as sinusitis, rheumatoid, arthritis and other skin conditions.
- It acts as a detox treatment.
- It is an effective component in the treatment and control of lymphoedema.
- It minimises and may reduce the appearance of stretch marks.
For those who have had VASER Liposuction or surgery, MLD massage aids recovery and prevents any uneven areas appearing. Bruising, swelling and pain will be lessened, and the results of your treatment will be visible in less time.
Lymphoedema and Lipoedema are chronic conditions, meaning they will never fully be ‘cured’. However, MLD helps to alleviate the symptoms and can prevent sufferers from experiencing pain in the areas. The treatment prevents oedema (build up of fluid) and can help reduce the characteristic swelling sufferers experience.