Curious About Manual Lymphatic Drainage?

I have a confession to make.

Since becoming a massage therapist in 2003, I NEVER had any interest in Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). It seemed boring, repetitive and not at all anything I wanted to do.

Over the past 20 years, my career has transitioned quite a bit. In 2019 I ‘retired’ from doing the traditional style of massage that everyone knows and loves and started to focus on more specialty work such as stretching, scar tissue, breathwork, mobility and more. And in 2022 I started to think more and more about MLD. Did you know that the average career span of a massage therapist is 5-7 years? (So when people ask why I don’t massage anymore, that’s why. Plus my body just physically can’t do it anymore. Or rather I choose not to put my body through more pain than I have to).

So in early 2023 I traveled to Las Vegas, NV to join a friend and colleague as we were trained by the Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS) in the Vodder style of Manual Lymphatic Drainage.

This was, without a doubt, the most challenging training I have ever done in my 20 year career as a massage therapist but I am so grateful for the training and education that I received. There has been an uptick in MLD work and unfortunately social media has glamorized it in a way that barely resembles what true MLD is.

Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage a massage?

Short answer: NO.

Long answer: Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a technique that uses gentle, rhythmic strokes to stimulate the lymphatic system and encourage it to transport fluid from swollen areas and back into the lymphatic system.

While MLD is sometimes referred to as a lymphatic massage, it is not a massage in the traditional sense. It utilizes light pressure touch to move lymph fluid; it does NOT involve manipulating muscles or any deep work.

For general wellness, it is recommended to have a monthly manual lymphatic drainage session. If you have a more specific concern or issue, please reach out to us before scheduling so we can recommend the best treatment course.

For post-op care, MLD can aid the body in reducing swelling and can increase mobility during recovery. Your surgeon may recommend MLD 2-3 times/week for the first 4-6 weeks post-op and 1-2 times/week after during your recovery.

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Who Can Benefit from MLD?

After completing my MLD training I can confidently say that ANYONE can benefit from manual lymphatic drainage. It is deeply relaxing (even though it doesn’t feel like anything is happening), soothing, and can act as an analgesic (pain relief).

Some of the more common treatments of MLD include:

For patients who have undergone reconstructive surgery, manual lymphatic drainage is a technique that uses gentle pressure on the body to help reduce swelling and speed up recovery. It also helps with post-surgery pain relief by gently working the tissues to improve blood flow.

Please note that we do not perform any incisional drainage services; any drains, ports, or tubes must be removed, and the incisions must be closed and healed before your session.

If you are interested in scheduling your MLD session or have more questions, please reach out to us!

In Good Hands,
Rebecca Tamm, LMT, MLD-C

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