What’s Your Post-Op Surgery Plan?

Navigating post-surgery care can be overwhelming. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is as a game-changer, aiding in healing (as well as speeding it up) and reducing swelling and the risk of fibrosis. Despite the boom in surgeries, the understanding of vital aftercare like MLD remains lacking, leaving patients seeking solutions and therapists bridging the gap.

You’ve planned for surgery, but what about the post-op care?

You’ve finally done it. You’ve been saving and saving and you finally have your surgery date coming up. You can’t wait to gain some confidence back after that tummy tuck. Or you’ve never been happy with the way that your breasts looked after your children just took what they needed and ran. The panniculectomy that was needed after bariatric surgery. That liposuction that you understand isn’t going to make you lose weight but help improve your skin’s appearance (more on how liposuction isn’t weight loss in another post).

And because your doctor isn’t hip to the fact that Manual Lymphatic Drainage is one of the best things you can do for your post-op surgery care plan, you’ve taken to Google to figure out what you need and who is going to provide it and you are so excited to make your appointment until they tell you that they:

  • Are booked for a month
  • Only work on referral from that other plastic surgeon that you didn’t end up going with
  • After the first session if you want to continue with treatment you need to commit to a minimum of 4 weekly sessions
  • Don’t do discounts

While there has been a sharp uptick in cosmetic and reconstructive surgery, there has NOT been a sharp uptick in education and planning for what happens when you come home later that day or the next. Most of the calls that we receive from people looking for Manual Lymphatic Drainage (or more, they are searching for lymphatic massage because they assumed it was some type of deep tissue massage based on what they’ve seen on social media from people claiming to do lymphatic drainage but what they are actually doing, like incision draining, is absolutely out of our scope of practice, illegal and WHY ARE THEY DOING THAT?!).

The calls sometimes go like this:

Patient: Hi, I had a breast lift and liposuction two weeks ago and I’d like to come in tomorrow for a lymphatic massage.

Me: Hi, thank you for calling and I would love to get you in, I am fully booked for the next 4 weeks.

Patient: Really? Is there any way you can get me in? I was reading up on how lymphatic drainage is good for after surgery and I googled it and your place came up and your reviews are amazing!

Me: Thank you, yes we are very lucky to have such great therapists here. And while I would love to get you in, I have absolutely no room for any other appointments until next month. We do have a waitlist option, however, so I can add you to the list.

Patient: Hmmm….I mean, I really was hoping to get in there tomorrow or by the end of the week. I can come in on Saturday.

Me: I’m sorry, my days for seeing clients are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. I do, however, offer an emergency appointment option that allows people to schedule within 24-48 hours. There is a $50 fee on top of the regular session fee, but if you’d like to do that I can see you on Wednesday morning at 10am (currently it’s Monday at 6pm).



Patient:…..can you add me to the waitlist please?

Sometimes the calls go like this:

Patient: Hi! I was recommended to you by a Facebook group. I had Lipo 360 last week and they said that lymphatic drainage could help with the swelling. How soon can I get in?

Me: You’re in luck! I just had a cancellation come up for tomorrow.

Patient: Great! Sign me up! Also, how many sessions do you recommend?

Me: Generally the more sessions and the sooner you can do them, the better. 2-3 times/week for the first 2-3 weeks will give you the most benefit and the better chance of not developing fibrosis (a common occurrence in surgery, abnormal tissue formation that can feel lumpy or hard).

Patient: Oh….wow….I can’t spend $300/week for massages

Me: Well, it’s not a massage at all. Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a hands on manual therapy using the Vodder Method that consists of VERY light touch to improve the flow of lymph and can help reduce edema (swelling) after surgery, helps with chronic pain, is very relaxing and can also provide analgesic properties. There’s no massage involved, and it is highly recommended to work with a Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist (which I am) to get the most comprehensive treatment.

Patient: That makes sense. Can I come in once every other week for a few sessions and then see how I feel?

Me: We can absolutely schedule you for some sessions that work with your schedule and budget, and I can also show you some techniques that you can do on your own in between to help keep things moving.

Patient: That would be great! Thank you! I wish my doctor would include these in his surgery package price.

Me: Yes, that would be. Unfortunately not a lot of surgeons are recommending this treatment as they simply don’t understand how important a role the lymphatic system plays in healing and functioning.

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How Manual Lymphatic Drainage helps with surgical recovery

I could go on for days but let me just leave you with this; If you are going to spend upwards of $20,000 for whatever you want to do to your body, why won’t you spend upwards of $2,000 (and likely a bit less) to help:

  • Reduce swelling
  • Improve appearance of scars
  • Prevent fibrosis (a thickening of tissues under the skin due to abnormal healing)
  • Reduce seromas (fluid filled little sacs that sometimes form)
  • Reduce pain
  • Improve mobility

To me, that’s like spending your hard earned money on a Porsche Cayenne Platinum (MSRP around $93,000) and you put regular unleaded gas in it, hitting those potholes HARD and throwing your suspension off, or never getting it washed after you were stuck driving behind a salt truck for a mile.

Here are a few simple tips on how best to do it:

  1. Find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon
  2. Prepare a list of questions for said surgeon at intake
    1. What is your specialty?
    2. What is your training background?
    3. How many surgeries do you do in a day? (because nobody wants a tired doc with a scalpel)
    4. Have you ever lost a patient during a routine procedure? (seriously, wouldn’t you like to know if he nipped where he was supposed to tuck?)
    5. What do you recommend for pre or post op care to best maximize my results?
  3. Ask said doctor if he recommends Manual Lymphatic Drainage, and if so, can he recommend a Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist (or MLD-C)?
  4. Good chance the doctor does not know anyone because he does not know the tremendous benefits of MLD for surgical recovery. And general health/wellness too!
  5. Schedule surgery date for a month from tomorrow
  6. Google Manual Lymphatic Drainage near me
  7. Find Michigan Massage and Wellness and are eager to schedule an appointment based on the reviews you are reading
  8. Accept the recommendation that is made for pre and post op visits (1 session 3 days before surgery and depending on the procedure, anywhere from 4-8 sessions over the course of 1-2 weeks. The more the more beneficial!) and purchase the package that gives you priority scheduling because you are committed to getting your money’s worth the $15,000 you paid for your transformation, so if spending an extra $1,000 means that you will be able to have reduced swelling, reduced risk of developing fibrosis, help to diminish seromas, provide some pain relief, calm you down and heal faster, wouldn’t that be worth it?
  9. Enjoy your new look, feel better in your body and get on living your life!In Good Hands,
    Rebecca Tamm, LMT, MLD-C


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