Manual Lymphatic Drainage & Post-Op FAQs
FAQ Specifically About MLD for
Q: Why is Lymph Drainage Therapy better than a deep massage after cosmetic procedures?
A: Although it may seem that deep massage would assist in decreasing the hardness following lipo or other procedures, this 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. So, even though it may seem to you that a deep massage or other forms of therapeutic or Swedish massage would be helpful, they would generally be counterproductive.
Q: Why do I need Lymph Drainage Therapy after my liposuction or other cosmetic surgery procedure?
A: You may notice a hardness or lumpiness to the areas treated with liposuction 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) This 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 swelling can reduce discomfort. Without Lymph Massage (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 to make sure their patients get the best possible results from their procedure.
Q: But...is it REALLY worth investing several hundred dollars on Manual Lymphatic Drainage sessions after I've already spent money on my procedure(s)?
A: Manual Lymph Drainage is an up-and-coming modality. Many massage therapists haven't attended classes specifically for this technique (they learn from YouTube or other websites.) This does not provide the client with true MLD and can even cause more damage as many therapists use pressure that is too deep, which will increase the swelling. It's advisable to work with a therapist who has an in-person training certificate to ensure they know what they're doing.
Additionally, compare the cost of getting Lymphatic Drainage work versus not getting Lymphatic Drainage work.
Not getting MLD means a longer recovery. - So more time off work, more pain medication, drains put in to remove the swelling, and possible future surgeries to remove fibrosis tissue. All of which would easily add up to at least several thousand dollars. The less invasive and clearly less expensive choice is to invest in MLD sessions and invest in your recovery
Q: How many treatments will I need?
A: 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 may find they require up to 12 sessions.
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. Sessions may be paid for individually, or in slightly discounted packages.
Q: How often is MLD applied?
A: This is dependent on your circumstances, procedure, and how your body responds. I have created packages that allow for an optimal healing timeline for most procedures. It is recommended that you pre-schedule your package sessions ahead of time so that you can attend your sessions at times that work for your schedule and so that you can commit to healing & maintaining the results you were seeking with your procedure.
Q: How soon after my procedure can MLD begin?
A: As long as your doctor or surgeon approves, it is possible to begin within 24 hours. Most people wait until they can comfortably drive themselves to appointments. I start working with most clients around 72 hours after their procedure.
Q: It has been over a month since I had my procedure. Is it too late to begin Manual Lymphatic Sessions?
A: Not at all. The healing process after these types of procedures is several months. If it has been over a month since your procedure you can still get the soothing 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: I've seen some folks on Instagram having fluid pushed out of their open incisions. Is this something you do?
My post-operative sessions consist of using gentle, Manual Lymphatic Drainage (Vodder Method), with other modalities safe for the body during the post-operative healing process.
I do not offer any sort of work that pushes fluid out of incisions or drains, Nor do I reopen incisions to do so. -- This sort of work is not Manual Lymphatic Drainage but is in fact incisional massage.
Massage therapists in North Carolina are not licensed to do incisional massage; this is outside our scope of practice.
If you feel you might need fluid drained - as in the instance of a seroma, you will need to contact your surgeon.
General FAQ About Lymphatic Massage:
Q: What exactly is the Lymphatic System and what does it do?
A: The lymphatic system, like the circulatory system, is a vital system of vessels that removes cell wastes, proteins, excess fluid, viruses, and bacteria.
However, lymph vessels are mostly located just below the skin, so very little pressure is needed to affect them. If more pressure than that of the weight of a nickel is used, it would essentially "squish" these lymphatic vessels which would prevent lymph fluid from moving through the body.
The lymph system picks up fluids and waste products from the spaces between the cells and then filters and cleans them.
Like the roots of a tree, the lymph system starts as tiny vessels--only a single-cell wide--that eventually branch into larger and larger tubes that carry these fluids back to the bloodstream. This network of delicate vessels and lymph nodes is the primary structure of the immune system. The lymph nodes act as checkpoints along the pathways of the vessels. They filter the fluid (called lymph) and serve as the home for lymphocytes—little Pac Man-like cells that attack and destroy foreign bacteria and viruses and even abnormal cells, like cancer cells.
Q: What is a Manual Lymphatic Drainage treatment like?
A: 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. Treatments involve a very light touch that (though it may not seem so) is extremely effective in reducing swelling and discomfort.
Like a typical massage therapy session, a client receiving an MLD treatment undresses when the therapist leaves the room, lays on a massage table and is covered by the sheet and blanket - and only the areas being worked will be uncovered/undraped.
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 (along the crease of the leg), and back of the knees.
Usually, the session begins with the client 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. 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.
Increasing the blood circulation with deep massage and heat can actually inhibit the movement of lymph fluid by changing the permeability of the lymph and blood vessels.