Lymphatic drainage


Lymphatic drainage massage is also called MLD. This is a special type of massage that reduces swelling from lymphoedema. There are different types of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) including Vodder, Leduc, Foldi and Casley-Smith. You should only have MLD from someone who has been trained in one of these types.

The aim of the massage is to move fluid from the swollen area into an area where the lymphatic system is working normally. To do this the person massaging you first massages and clears the area they want the fluid to drain into. It might seem strange to have them massage your chest and neck if you have lymphoedema in your arm. But it means that the fluid has somewhere to drain to when they massage your arm.

You usually lie down to have massage. But if you have lymphoedema in your head and neck, you sit up.

When you have the massage you feel a gentle pressure. It is not a deep massage. If it is too deep it won’t work because it flattens the small lymph vessels so that the fluid can’t drain. The movements are slow and rhythmic so the lymph vessels open up.

You may have MLD daily from Monday to Friday, or 3 times a week, for about 3 weeks. The number of treatments varies depending on the type of MLD you have and what you need. Your specialist will also take into account the amount of swelling you have.