What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), also known as Lymph Massage or Lymphatic Drainage Technique is the gentle stretching of the skin in the direction of the lymphatic vessels toward the lymph nodes increasing the rate at which the lymphatic system drains excess fluid from cells and tissues of the body. This allows the lymph nodes to filter noxious, unhealthy microscopic materials that can accumulate in the body. This technique provides wide-ranging health benefits including increased energy, enhanced function of the immune system, detoxification of the circulatory system from viral, bacterial and cellular waste, relief from chronic conditions of swelling such as lymphedema and lipedema, relief from tingling, numbness, or heaviness in the extremities and better regulation of emotions. The relaxing effect of MLD makes it especially beneficial to people in high stress work environments such as policemen, firemen, other first responders and military including people suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. MLD also provides cosmetic benefits including smoothing cellulite and decreasing facial puffiness.

Your MLD massage session involves a light touch. Your skilled therapist applies no more than five grams of pressure in a rhythmic flow across your skin using no lotion. You may be lulled to sleep by the rhythm of the technique. The powerful effect of MLD on the body surprises most because it involves such a light touch. However, one should remember that lymph massage can increase the speed of lymph drainage by as much as ten times its normal rate.

MLD is not for everyone. Absolute contraindications include:

  • Congestive heart failure
  • Any metastatic or systemic malignant condition
  • Acute inflammation caused by bacteria, viruses or foreign bodies
  • Any thrombosis at risk of causing embolism

Those with relative contraindications should proceed with caution; these include:

  • Kidney problems
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Active chemotherapy treatment
  • Removed spleen
  • Some medications
  • First trimester pregnancy
  • Menstruation

The length and frequency of MLD massage depends on the specific needs and goals of each client. For a healthy individual, one to three sessions to boost the immune system may be all that is needed to get through the cold and flu season. While ongoing sessions may be required to treat serious conditions such as lymphedema or cancer.

We recommend a 90 minute session for first-time clients who have never had the treatment before or have not had the treatment in 6 months. 60 minute sessions are sufficient for on-going treatment. 30 minute sessions may be sufficient for spot treatments preceding or following certain cosmetic or surgical procedures.

Learn more about the Lymphatic System…