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MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage)


Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a treatment that helps stimulate the flow of lymphatic fluid and relieve swelling that occurs when your lymphatic system gets blocked by surgery, illness, or an adverse event.

MLD involves gently and lightly manipulating specific areas of your body to help lymph move from a swollen area to a less swollen area. It is an integral part of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). 

MLD is performed by a qualified MLD practitioner using hand movements to help move lymph. Sometimes, the therapist might use a deep oscillation machine to help facilitate lymph movement and enhance healing. Some beauty or holistic therapy clinics offer lymphatic drainage massage for relaxation. They should not be confused with MLD treatments offered by medically trained MLD therapists who are qualified to treat patients post-surgery or treat those with lymphoedema, lipoedema, and other health conditions. 


MLD involves techniques specific to the physiology of the lymphatic system, taking your specific needs into account. Because the lymphatic system comprises lymph vessels that travel in one direction towards specific drainage ducts, MLD directs the fluid from swollen areas to lymph collectors that are open. The gentle, rhythmic motions on your skin also help to soften any hardened (fibrotic) tissue.


The type of treatment that I provide is manual lymphatic drainage consisting of MLD with Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which includes the following:

  • MLD (manual lymphatic drainage) involves using my hands to unblock lymph and improve its flow. If appropriate, I use a Deep Oscillation machine to provide an electrostatic energy through my hands during the treatment .

  • SLD (self lymphatic drainage) is a series of techniques that I show you how to do at home  between appointments.

  • Compression garments minimise swelling and usually are provided by your surgeon, GP, or lymphoedema clinic. Should you need to be fitted for a compression garment, I can measure and provide you with a completed form to take to your pharmacist. Some compression wear is available on the NHS. If you need additional compression, I can help you select appropriate compression from private companies that offer a wide selection of types and colours.

  • Specific Exercises are important to stimulate your lymphatic system. They stimulate your lymph nodes and direct lymph fluid in a certain direction to help reduce swelling. The lymphatic system moves in one way only. For the lymph to move through the lymphatic system efficiently, it relies on muscle movement, deep breathing, and MLD. It does not move on its own. I will teach you these exercises.

  • Deep abdominal breathing to help open deep lymph collectors and enhances the positive effects of manual lymphatic drainage.

  • Skin care is also important to help prevent injury and infections which can make the swelling worse.

It is essential that you try to maintain a healthy diet and keep hydrated. That might sound simple, but it is crucial. Your body's healing process depends on hydration and good nutrition.

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