In the world of post-surgery recovery, there’s often a debate about the ideal timing for therapies like Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). The benefit of lymphatic drainage massage vary according to several factors including timing and pressure. Essentially your therapists experience and expertise will make the difference.
Some surgeons believe it’s too soon post-surgery due to the inflammation phase, which typically lasts up to 48 hours. However, it’s essential to understand that MLD is not about stopping the inflammation process; it’s about removing waste and promoting healing. In this blog post, we explore the science behind the timing of post-surgery massage, the benefits it offers, and how it can be an essential part of a patient’s recovery journey.
The Ideal Timing
Surgeons may have different recommendations for their patients, and we always respect those guidelines. However, here’s our take on it: special cases aside, like those involving blood loss and clotting issues, we find that post-surgery MLD can be highly beneficial within 24 to 48 hours post surgery, all things being equal.
Promoting Movement and Healing
One of the significant advantages of patients coming to see us is that they are encouraged to get up and move. This not only aids in their healing process but also helps prevent dangerous complications like blood clots.
The International Factor
It’s essential to consider the international aspect of medical tourism. Some patients opt for surgeries abroad, where doctors may remove more fat, anticipating the need for transfusions. However, many of these patients don’t come to us soon after their surgery due to logistical challenges. It’s important for us to see them as soon as they get back to the UK. We can’t underestimate the need for us to put back some of the damage that has been done by people using deeper forms of lymphatic drainage massage because this is their style abroad, or due to poor understanding of the healing process that people go on after surgery. See research below.
The Science Behind Post-Surgery MLD
Studies in plastic and reconstructive surgery have provided valuable insights into the effects of post-surgery massage. In 2012, research found that vigorous massage after liposuction could lead to complications such as bleeding, seroma formation, and skin discoloration.
It’s crucial to understand that not all MLD clinics use the same pressure. Different situations call for different approaches, and we apply deeper pressure to stimulate the lymphatics in organs when necessary. However, we never use deep pressure on someone just out of surgery.
The Dangers of Excessive Pressure
Aside from the science, there’s another reason why patients returning from overseas are wary of post-surgery MLD. Many of them have experienced painful treatments with deep pressure, leaving them with fibrosis—a condition marked by an excess of fibrous tissue.
The Research Speaks – Benefit of lymphatic drainage massage
Several studies shed light on how excessive pressure can lead to fibrosis during the proliferative stage of wound healing. Here’s what the research says:
- A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology found that excessive mechanical loading on wounds during the proliferative phase disrupts the balance of collagen synthesis and remodeling, leading to increased fibrosis.
- Research from the Journal of Clinical Investigation demonstrated that high mechanical stress on developing blood vessels in the proliferative stage can trigger aberrant signaling pathways, contributing to hypertrophic scars.
- A study in the Journal of Wound Repair and Regeneration highlighted that sustained pressure on healing wounds can lead to the activation of myofibroblasts, central to fibrosis development.
- Research in the Journal of Vascular Surgery emphasized the critical role of proper vascular perfusion during the proliferative phase. Excessive pressure can compromise functionality, leading to fibrotic tissue formation.
- Studies published in the Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine have explored how biomechanical factors, including pressure, impact the differentiation of fibroblasts and myofibroblasts, linking excessive pressure to fibrosis.
The research is clear—excessive pressure on new blood vessels during the proliferative stage of wound healing can lead to excessive fibrosis. Post-surgery MLD should be approached with caution and tailored to each patient’s unique needs. It’s crucial to find the right balance to minimize the risk of complications and promote optimal tissue regeneration, ultimately enhancing the patient’s recovery journey.