Massage for lymphatic drainage is performed by our specialist, certified, lymphatic drainage therapist in order to reduce swelling from fluid which accumulates in the lymph nodes. This is otherwise known as lymphedema sometimes spelt at lymphoedema.
Having a massage for lymphatic drainage can be important for several reasons:
Our body eliminates metabolic waste through a few systems, one important one being our lymphatic vessels. This is a very delicate structure which sits just under the surface of our skin above the muscles, with lymph nodes in key areas around our neck, groin and under our arm. Other key places include the back of your knee, around your eye area and breasts.
Having a massage for lymphatic drainage is an important treatment because this lymphatic system can't eliminate waste without either movement or sufficient water intake. Something often lacking. It may also struggle to cope with an influx following swelling related to trauma — if, for example, we injure ourselves or have surgery.
This impact the flow of toxin's ability to leave our system. The light pressure techniques involved in a lymphatic treatment help the flow of this lymphatic liquid and avoiding stagnation by using gentle strokes on swollen tissue. Your physical therapist will use their hands/ palm to improve this circulation and gently pump the fluid to your lymph nodes. Your therapist will then use their fingers on these nodes e.g. in your armpit to help your system drain the fluids effectively.
Popular questions people ask
Often after surgery I'm in pain, does this hurt?
Your massage for lymphatic drainage is a gentle touch because it only needs to reach the vessels which lie under the surface of the skin. Unlike other massages such as deep tissue sports, we are not looking to break down muscle fibres.
Why do I need a massage for lymphatic drainage when I am wearing a compression garment?
Your compression garment products will help to prevent the buildup of stagnant lymphatic fluid, but it is not a fail safe. Your body has undergone trauma and the natural way that it heals is by swelling. This needs to be moved on for you to get the best possible results from your surgery and aid healing. And we do this when we perform manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) massage.
The benefit of compression garments is that they help to minimise swelling from medical wastes, and the benefits of massage for lymphatic drainage is that it removes what still accumulates.
I only have swelling in one area, why are you doing MLD on my entire body?
If you think about your lymphatic system as one giant circle that runs around your body, it's easy to see that it's necessary for us to work every part — even if you just have swelling in a localised area, e.g. legs. If we only concentrate on one specific area, then we're not giving you our proper care because we're just moving fluid from one place to the next, rather than helping your system totally eradicate it.
This isn't a ruse to get more time out of you, it's an important part of ensuring that your risk of infection is minimised and you get the best possible results from your procedure.
Looking at the diagram, I see I have vessels on my chest/ breast. Will you work this area too?
Yes. We will work everywhere that your lymphatic system runs. If you are female, then we will use your hand to cover your breast and then touch your hand upward in such a way that you end up moving the build up along yourself.
We will work around your head and your face, covering around your ears, down to your jaw and neckline. This is regardless of whether you are swollen in that area. Our treatments will continue around your collarbone slowly with gentle effleurage, around your breast and chest area and under your arms, and around your elbows.
We'll cover your stomach, up your legs, behind your knees and into your groin because this is where the network of lymph nodes, vessels and glands are located.
This is a painful time, it would be nice to just relax.
Strange as this may sound as this is a therapeutic treatment, well known because it stimulates improved healing and effects the removal of toxins from swollen body parts, whilst also improving your immune response; it is also amazing for relaxation.
We know! Who would have thought a health based therapy designed to remove excess waste content would also be a technique that would not only keep you healthy but also encourages your feeling of peace?
How does this improve recovery of my tissues?
Clearing excess waste products from tissues and cells means that our body doesn't have so much of the heavy lifting to do itself. Think about it you go to the supermarket and you have six bags, it's easier to have someone else carry them out of the car with you when you get home than do it all on your own. This not only gives you more time, but more energy to enjoy the fun stuff, or perhaps clean the house. If you didn't have this energy because someone helped you, then you probably wouldn't clean the house at all, or if you did, it wouldn't be as good a finish. Our body works in this way, regardless of whether we can experience the results in a tangible way.
This is why your doctor will recommend lymphatic massage post surgery. We cannot underestimate the effect of massaging with these gentle movements by a qualified and experienced professional in improving your healing results.
How will I feel after my MLD treatment?
You may experience some fatigue as your body works to filter out waste because of the stimulation of your lymph system. If you can relax and take a nap after your session, this helps.