top of page

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) stands as a therapeutic massage technique with roots dating back to the 1930s when Emil Vodder developed it. MLD is meticulously designed to stimulate the lymphatic system, a key component of the body's immune and detoxification systems. Therapists employ gentle, rhythmic movements and specific hand techniques to facilitate the natural flow of lymphatic fluid throughout the body.

Indications for Manual Lymphatic Drainage and its benefits

Kindly note that as a Level 2 Vodder MLD therapist, my qualifications specifically cover Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) treatments only. I do not provide services for Complete Decongestive Therapy or Compression Therapy. If you require the expertise of a Level 3 or higher MLD specialist, please visit for assistance, or visit NHS Lymphoedema Clinic for patient information

What to expect during Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Personalised Assessment

Your MLD session will commence with a thorough assessment. I will invest time in understanding your unique needs, whether they pertain to specific lymphatic concerns, chronic conditions, or stress-related issues. This personalised assessment ensures that the MLD is precisely tailored to address your requirements.

Communication and Comfort

Throughout the session, communication is encouraged. Feel free to express any preferences or concerns.

Post-MLD Guidance

Following the MLD session, I will offer guidance for post-treatment care. This may involve recommendations on hydration, gentle movements, or other self-care practices that can enhance the benefits of the MLD.

General and Cosmetic Surgery – speeding up recovery

Lymphoedema is a chronic condition characterised by a persistent accumulation of lymph fluid, often occurring as a result of cancer treatment, trauma, skin infection, or even insect bites when the lymphatic system, responsible for maintaining fluid balance and immune function, can become compromised.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) supports lymphoedema patients in managing fluid retention and its associated symptoms. By employing specialised gentle massage techniques, MLD stimulates lymphatic flow, facilitating the drainage of excess fluid from affected areas. 


Combination Therapy: MLD is frequently used in combination with other components of Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which includes compression therapy, exercise, and skincare. This comprehensive approach is particularly effective in managing secondary lymphedema.


Symptom Relief: MLD can provide relief from symptoms associated with secondary lymphedema, such as heaviness, discomfort, and limited range of motion. It helps improve the overall quality of life for individuals dealing with the consequences of lymphatic system damage.

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) has also demonstrated positive effects in supporting various conditions, including:

  • Lipoedema

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME)

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Symptoms associated with Post Menstrual Syndrome.

  • Detoxification Support

  • Pain relieving

  • Stimulating immune system 

Lymphoedema Overview

Secondary Lymphoedema

Lymphedema traditionally has been classified based on etiology, broadly divided into inherited (primary) or acquired (secondary) forms. Primary causes of lymphedema are rare when compared with the acquired forms, and often a result of genetic abnormalities. The majority of lymphedema cases encountered in health care are therefore acquired, occurring secondary to accidental or iatrogenic trauma or other lymphatic-disrupting disease processes.

The most common causes of secondary lymphedema include trauma, insect bite, cancer, chemotherapy, radiation, lymph-node dissection, and various surgical procedures. Additionally, complications that stem from these secondary causes of lymphedema, such as infection and seroma, can further exacerbate or result in lymphedema.

Lymphedema is a process manifested by inadequate drainage of lymphatic vessels, resulting in an accumulation of excess protein-rich interstitial fluid. Under normal circumstances, any excess fluid in the interstitial space is easily removed by a nonpathologic lymphatic system. Any disruption to this delicate lymphatic system and its equilibrium can result in the development of severe and debilitating lymphoedema.

According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, more and more people are deciding to enhance their appearance through cosmetic surgery.

A downside of cosmetic surgery is the initial aftereffects, such as swelling and bruising, which are experienced by patients post-surgery. The time it takes for the skin and tissue to recover can differ from person to person due to many factors such as age, general health, lifestyle, etc, however, a course of MLD treatment makes the healing process much faster.

General postoperative manual lymphatic drainage massage recommendations consist of 2 to 3 sessions per week during the initial 3 to 4 weeks of recovery to be performed. It is through postoperative care that the expected results are achieved. In addition to fighting this accumulation of fluid, doing lymphatic drainage after plastic surgery may help in recovery, improving blood circulation, reducing pain, fibrosis, hardening of the skin, and facilitating healing. 


Aesthetic procedures, especially liposuction, result in postoperative swelling that can take between 3 and 6 months for the body's lymphatic system to resolve. Similar to the skin pathophysiology of chronic lymphedema, fluid accumulation after liposuction can create hardened lumps and bumps of the skin. However, unlike lymphedema, these lumps and bumps can be fully resolved with MLD and compression garments; patients undergoing elective cosmetic procedures have healthy intact lymphatic systems, while lymphedema patients do not.


Since the recovery process from plastic surgery can be a lengthy one, between 3 and 6 months, utilizing MLD therapy during the postoperative recovery phase, can be beneficial in supporting the lymphatic system in its role in reabsorption of fluid.


Important considerations before receiving MLD

As a dedicated massage therapist, I prioritise the safety and well-being of each client.

Before scheduling a massage, please be aware of the following factors and contraindications:

Absolute Contraindications 

  • Acute inflammation whether local or systemic, caused by antigens such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, chemicals, etc. 

  • Infection

  • Allergies 

  • Acute Deep Vein Thrombosis

  • Acute Phlebitis 

  • Cardiac Insufficiency 

  • Malignant diseases that have not been treated surgically or with radiation or chemotherapy.

Relative Contraindications 

  • Low Blood Pressure 

  • Thyroid disorder

  • Bronchial Asthma

  • The first trimester of pregnancy

  • Chronic infection

  • Severe unexplained pain

  • Severe kidney / liver problems

  • Herpes / Herpes Zoster

  • High fever

  • Vaccinations less than 72 hours before the intended MLD treatment

If you have any concerns or questions about the suitability of MLD for your specific situation, please consult with your healthcare provider.

bottom of page