What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage?

April 28, 2017
April 28, 2017 Sarah Donnelly

What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is very gentle treatment that encourages lymph flow in the body. It’s excellent for pre- and post-surgery recovery, boosting the immune system, and edema.

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is your immune system. It is a slow-moving system of vessels and lymph nodes, a mirror image of the blood system. While the circulatory system brings nutrients and oxygen to the cells, the venous system only carries away 70% of the fluid returning to the heart, while your lymph system drains the remaining 30% fluid, as well as cellular waste, bacteria, viruses and toxins. Your lymph nodes house white blood cells whose job it is to attack and destroy pathogens, holding the ‘memory’ of them in case of future illness.

An out of balance lymphatic system will be sluggish, unable to dispose of fluids quickly. This creates the appearance of puffiness, swelling, a general heaviness in the joints. This may manifest as stuffed sinuses and frequent illnesses, because fluid trapped in the tissues creates a warm, welcome environment for any pathogens passing through.

A healthy lymphatic system will provide protection by regularly disposing cellular waste, balancing fluid levels and keeping proteins and fats circulating. A well functioning lymphatic system will show as firm, fresh skin and comfortably moving joints.

What Will It Feel Like?

Manual lymph drainage has a soothing, relaxing effect. The target lymph vessels are located directly beneath the skin, between the skin and muscle, so the therapist applies very light, rhythmic pumping movements to gently encourage decongestion and detoxification. The treatment can be added at the end of a deeper massage treatment to encourage fresh flow to tissues; as part of a facial to firm and brighten sagging skin; by itself as a deep system cleanse, after illness or for detox.

Lymph drainage is especially good after surgery, when residual and swelling can slow down recovery. A lymphatic drainage treatment may be applied as soon as one or two days after surgery, to be repeated 1-2 times a week until results are achieved. Treatment may also be used before surgery to cleanse the system and encourage a speedy recovery.

This is an example of reduced swelling after one 60 minute MLD treatment, three days after liposuction:



Sarah Donnelly