Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)

Good for:

  • Pre and post-operative and post-injury healing
  • Water retention
  • Post-operative oedema
  • Sinusitis (when not acute)
  • Hayfever (when not acute)
  • Digestion
  • Relaxation
  • Complexion on the face – can make skin look clearer and brighter
  • Good for post-exercise recovery
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The main benefits of MLD are:

  • Decongesting and detoxing: It helps the body to clear toxins and waste products.  It can be very effective at reducing swelling, e.g. post-operation / injury, and water retention.  As with massage, it can help the digestive system, and it can be good for the skin (e.g. it can be good for people with acne, rosacea or dry skin).
  • Relaxing: It has a soothing effect on the autonomic nervous system.  It can also be good to treat areas of chronic pain. 
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How does it work?

MLD stimulates your lymphatic system, which is your body’s detox system, cleansing waste products that travel from the blood, through the various lymphatic vessels and into the lymph nodes (we have up to 1000 in our bodies).  Lymph nodes are like mini recycling centres, returning to the bloodstream anything that can be cleaned.  Antigens are also filtered out by lymph nodes, as well as other lymphatic structures – the spleen, macrophages (a type of white blood cell) and dendritic cells (also connected to the immune system).  Anything that can’t be recirculated is expelled in the urine or by sweating.      

MLD stimulates the lymphatic system by means of specific techniques that speed up the flow of lymph to the lymph nodes.  Due to the way lymph is pumped around our bodies, the way to improve this flow happens to be very gentle and rhythmical, making this a very relaxing treatment.  Oil is not usually used, as the therapist works with the sebum in the skin instead.  I am trained in the Vodder technique, which is internationally recognized – you can read more about it here:

I am qualified to Level 1, so am unfortunately unable to treat people with oedemas that are not caused by operation or injury, or general water retention.  If you would like to find out where you can receive treatments for lymphoedema, or any information in general about MLD, you can visit the MLD UK website: Home – MLD UK.

As with massage, I advise drinking water after the treatment, to help the body flush out the waste products.  I also give lymphatic-specific homecare advice.  This may include simple tips such as information about compression stockings, or particular exercises and breathing techniques that may help to stimulate the lymphatic system.

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The most common side effects of this cleansing treatment to be aware of are urinating more frequently (as your body expels waste products) and tiredness.  Rarely, people can feel slightly nauseous.  As with the feeling of soreness after a massage, the nausea is usually experienced by people who have not had the treatment before or not for a long time.  Also similarly to massage, good results are achieved and side effects eliminated/reduced after a series of regular treatments.

Contraindications (when the treatment is not advised, or when necessary to proceed with caution):

  • This therapy is not suitable for people undergoing treatment for cancer.  It can be used when you have recovered and with your doctor’s permission.
  • Acute infections and viruses
  • Cardiac decompensation
  • Unusually low or high blood pressure (diagnosed)
  • Pregnancy – seek doctor’s permission