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Lymphatic drainage massage

The following article was extracted from

Endermologie Lymphatic massage is the mechanical version of Manuel lymphatic drainage.

lymphatic massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), is a specialized form of therapeutic massage. Doctors frequently recommend it to help speed recovery by reducing post-surgical swelling, particularly after procedures like liposuction and tummy tucks. It uses very light pressure to encourage drainage of the lymph fluid that accumulates after trauma to the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic massage practitioners typically use the Vodder method, developed in the 1930s by married doctors Emil and Estrid Vodder. The gentle, rhythmic movements of the massage follow the direction of lymph flow. The idea is that the massage therapist sends leaked lymphatic fluid toward nearby lymph nodes. Then the nodes empty it into the bloodstream.

Lymphatic massage can be especially important after a mastectomy that includes lymph node removal. These surgeries increase the risk of lymphedema, swelling that can develop in the arms, hands, chest, or torso. Many mastectomy patients are taught to perform lymphatic massage at home on a daily basis to prevent potentially debilitating fluid build-up.

Dr. Laurie Casas, a plastic surgeon in Glenview, Illinois, has had lymphatic massage as a requirement for post-op recovery for every surgical procedure since early on in her 35-year practice, when she saw the dramatic improvement in swelling on a facelift patient who had lymphatic massage on just one side of her face. After six sessions in two weeks, “the treated side looked like it was six to eight weeks post-op, and the other side looked like it was two weeks post-op,” says Dr. Casas. She published results of an observational split-body study that found that patients given lymphatic massage after 13 different cosmetic surgery procedures completely healed within 6–12 weeks, compared to 9–18 months for patients who didn’t receive massages.

In addition to reducing swelling, Dr. Casas says that MLD therapy helps reduce fibrosis, the lumps and bumps that may occur under the skin a couple of weeks after surgery. “The mediators of swelling send signals to your inflammatory system to begin depositing disorganized collagen, so around 14–21 days, you start to get stiff tissues,” she explains. “When you get rid of the swelling, you bypass that phase.”


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