Lymphatic Drainage

 

MLD for Post Surgical Care

($85 per Session or 5 sessions for $345)

Q: Why do I need Lymph Drainage Therapy after my liposuction, Smart-lipo, Cool Sculpting or other cosmetic surgery procedure?

A:   A hardness or lumpiness to the areas treated with liposuction  Smart-lipo, or Cool Sculpting especially in the abdominal area and even more so if combined with other body contouring procedures (such as fat injections for what is popularly known as the Brazilian Butt Lift)  is normal right after your procedure. This post-surgical lymphedema is caused by inflammation and trauma from the cannula (an instrument that sucks out the fat) moving under the skin. Channels are formed by the cannula that can fill up with fluid and the tissue also becomes swollen.  Manual Lymph Massage helps to move the fluid by gently pumping it back into the lymph vessels. Reducing the swelling can reduce discomfort. Without Lymph Massage (LDT or MLD) the inflammation can evolve into fibrosis (a permanent hardening of the tissue) or a seroma ( pocket of serum) can form. Many doctors prescribe Lymph Drainage Therapy after liposuction or other plastic surgery procedures to make sure their patients get the best possible results from their procedure.

Q: Is Lymph Drainage Therapy a deep massage?

A:   No, although it may seem that deep massage would assist in decreasing the hardness following liposuction, it would actually increase the circulation to the treated areas making it harder to evacuate the lymph fluid.  Even though MLD is extremely light work, it is the most efficient way to reduce swelling and bruising. It is based on scientific knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the Lymphatic System. It is a myth that deep massage and heat are beneficial in healing after liposuction. The Vodder Method and the Chikly Technique are widely accepted forms of Lymph Drainage Therapy performed in hospitals and clinics all over the world. So, even though it may seem to you that a deep massage or other forms of therapeutic or Swedish massage would be helpful, it is not.

Q: Does MLD help get rid of bruising?

A:  Yes. That is one of the best applications of MLD. Bruises are an accumulation of cellular debris and old red blood cells in the tissue. Lymph Drainage Therapy greatly reduces healing time for bruises by cleansing the extracellular spaces where these substances are trapped.

Q: Is Lymph Drainage Massage Painful?

A:  Performed properly it is not painful.

Q: How many treatments will I need?

A:  It is ideal to receive at least one or two MLD treatments prior to a procedure. There are many different things that can influence healing. Some patients get 1-6 treatments post-operatively and that is enough, especially if the only area of liposuction was the legs, knees, or flanks. People getting liposuction to the abdomen often find they require up to 12 sessions.  Occasionally a client will need more than 12, especially if they had “Smart-lipo”.  Also, patients who get multiple procedures at the same time (lipo and a tummy tuck, or lipo and a buttock enhancement; Brazilian Butt Lift) may need more sessions than someone who only gets one procedure.

Q: What is an MLD treatment like?

A: After an initial consultation, you will undress, lie down on a massage table in the face-up position, covered modestly with a sheet. The atmosphere is the same as a massage treatment room with dim lighting and soft music.  Although you are in a massage setting, it is important to understand that MLD is a specific form of bodywork designed to efficiently move lymph fluid in your body. MLD is completely different from a deep tissue, Swedish or relaxation massage that you may be expecting or have had in the past. Stimulation of the Lymphatic System activates the para-sympathetic nervous system producing an automatic physiological relaxation response. Many clients fall asleep. Only the area being worked on is undraped at any time. Gentle, rotating, pumping motions with the therapist’s hands and fingertips begin at the collarbone area, then focus on areas where there is a concentration of lymph nodes…the underarms, abdomen, groin and back of the knees. Usually the entire session is performed with you lying in the face-up position because all of the areas of lymph nodes that need to be decongested are located on the front of the body, although some surgeries do require the patient to turn side to side or face down for a short time if tolerated.  Starting on the back (even for fat injections to the buttocks) would not be indicated because it is necessary to open up the major lymphatic areas on the front of your body before the backside of the body can drain. It is very important to decongest the areas of drainage in the groin, abdomen, underarms and collarbone areas before sending extra lymph fluid to them. Directing lymph fluid to nodal areas without opening the lymph nodes up first increases the discomfort and overwhelms the nodes, leading to increased recovery time. Each session is one hour,  although those who have several procedures at the same time might prefer a 90 minute session.

Q: How often is MLD applied?

A: The first week it is suggested that sessions be daily or every other day, if possible.  The second week, every other day, reducing in frequency after that. It is not possible to get too much MLD and the sessions can be scheduled at your convenience.

Q: How soon after my procedure can MLD begin?

A: It is possible to begin within 24 hours.  Most people wait until they can comfortably drive themselves to appointments.

Q: It has been over a month since I had my procedure.  Is it too late to begin MLD?

A:  No. The healing process after these types of procedure is several months. If it has been over a month since your procedure you can still get the smoothing benefits of MLD.  If it has been over 6 months since your procedure and you are still feeling lumps and hardness you should contact your doctor to make sure you have not developed fibrosis or a seroma.

Q: Do I need a prescription for MLD?

A:  No. Although many doctors recommend MLD, it is also perfectly fine to self-refer.

                                    Lymphatic Drainage for Lymphedema:

MLD is a gentle manual treatment technique that improves the activity of the lymph vessels by mild mechanical stretches on the wall of lymph collectors.  MLD re-routes the lymph flow via tissue channels and lymph vessels around the blocked areas into more centrally located lymph vessels that eventually drain into the venous system.

The Goal of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD)

The goal of MLD  is to increase the efficiency of the Lymphatic System, thereby decreasing pain & discomfort and providing a healthy cellular environment.

 

What Is The Lymphatic System?

To better understand lymphedema, we first must understand the normal lymphatic system (see diagram). This system functions parallel to the circulatory system and consists of lymph vessels, lymph nodes, and lymphoid tissues. The most important role of the lymphatic system is to absorb and transport large molecules (including protein and cellular debris) which are too large to be collected by veins and venous capillaries. This lymph fluid is then transported to lymph nodes that act as “filtering stations” in the body. In the lymph nodes, cells from the body’s natural defense system, called lymphocytes, help fight bacteria and viruses.

Networks of the lymphatic system are situated in several areas of the body with a specific drainage pathway for each individual area.

Superficial Lymph Nodes Include:

Axillary: Located under each arm, these nodes receive fluid from the arm, chest, back, and breast tissue.
Inguinal: Located at the bend of the hip, these nodes receive fluid from the leg, lower abdomen, gluteal region, and external genitals.

Deep Lymph Nodes Include:

Supraclavicular: Located at the neck just above the collar bones, this important node group receives fluid from the head and shoulders. If indicated, the treatment of these lymph nodes precedes all other treatment.
Deep Abdominal/Pelvic Nodes: The abdomen is richly invested in lymph nodes—they surround the organs and intestines. These nodes also receive fluid from the superficial inguinal area as well. Congestion in this area alone can cause swelling in the lower extremities, abdomen, and genitalia.

Lymphatic tissue is found in other areas of the body including the tonsils, spleen, intestinal wall, and bone marrow.3

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a condition in which excess lymphatic fluid collects in the interstitial tissue and causes swelling in specific areas of the body, usually in the arms or legs. Swelling can also occur in other parts of the body, such as the breast , chest wall, genitals and abdomen.

What causes Lymphedema?

Lymphedema can develop as a result of cancer, cancer treatment (e.g., surgery, radiation), infection, trauma, scar tissue, or anything that changes, blocks or interrupts the flow of lymph through the lymphatic system. While it is most often associated with breast cancer, lymphedema can result from treatment for other cancers, such as prostate cancer, gynecological cancers, lymphoma and melanoma.

The greater the number of lymph nodes removed, the higher the risk for developing lymphedema. Early diagnosis and treatment for lymphedema is important to help reduce symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing. Untreated lymphedema can lead to decreased function and mobility in the affected limb, skin breakdown, infection and other complications.

Lymphedema prevention and treatment:

There is no cure for lymphedema; the goal of the therapy therefore is to reduce the swelling and to maintain the reduction.   For the majority of the patients this can be achieved by the skillful application of this therapy, which is safe, reliable and non-invasive.

 Lymphedema treatments vary from person to person, depending on the severity and cause.

Treatments to either prevent or reduce the swelling associated with lymphedema.

Treatment may include skin care, manual lymph drainage, gentle massage and light exercises to help stimulate the lymphatic system. We may combine gentle range-of-motion exercises and other techniques.

We may also recommend compression bandages, pumps, or garments (e.g., sleeves, stockings) to help prevent additional fluid from accumulating in the tissue.

 

Treatments for lymphedema are done in a series of appointments.  Applied correctly, a series of MLD treatments decrease the volume of the affected extremity/area to a normal or near normal size and is applied daily in the first phase of therapy.

 

Photo Credit and Article Credit: Mantra Wellness, LLc