Benefits Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) has many heath benefits. It stimulates the circulation of lymph and blood, and moves tissue fluid from the tissue into the lymph vessels. Lymph vessels carry lymph and its contents through the lymph nodes, where the fluid in purified. Eventually, purified lymph fluid is returned to the blood stream. In this process, toxins such as microorganisms, microscopic particles, metabolic waste, and chemicals are removed from the tissues and are returned to the blood circulation, preventing protein build up in the tissues, which leads to chronic inflammation. Increased lymph flow helps to distribute immune cells throughout the body, reducing infection and speeding the healing of inflammation. Because MLD is relaxing, nurturing, and supporting, it helps decrease stress, depression, insomnia, and fatigue. Removing edema and relaxing soft tissues, including muscles, reduces pain. Deep abdominal massage reduces constipation and abdominal pain, helps to restore intestinal peristalsis, relaxes adhesions in the abdomen, improves the motility of the abdominal organs, and improves breathing. All of these help to stimulate the deep circulation of the lymph.
Edema: Manual lymph drainage is very effective in reducing edema. However, it is important to know the cause of edema before proceeding. Edema can be a simple problem due to inactivity, hormonal changes, diet, or scar tissue. Scar tissue can result from injuries, surgeries, radiation, or infections. Edema is sometimes a side effect of medical treatment, such as with steroids. Edema can be a symptom of more serious conditions that can be aggravated my massage. Anyone who has chronic edema and does not know the cause should consult a physician to rule out serious health problems before receiving MLD. MLD may be used before and after surgery, including cosmetic surgery, to speed healing and reduce edema. Before surgery, MLD helps to remove stagnant fluid from tissue and increase blood flow, which brings nutrients to the tissues. MLD is also deeply relaxing, so it can lessen the client’s stress and anxiety. After surgery, MLD can help to remove inflammation, speed healing, and reduce scar tissue. Due to the risk of infection and blood clots, MLD should never be performed immediately after surgery without the approval, and direction, of the client’s physician.
Regeneration of lymph nodes:
Pre-surgery: One to three MLD sessions are recommended.
Post-surgery: As soon as 24 hours after surgery.
Soft Tissue Injury: In the case of soft tissue injury, MLD speeds healing and reduces swelling. For minor injuries that are healing, massage is safe. During the acute phase of the injury, MLD can be performed to reduce swelling around the injured area, reducing scarring and removing metabolic waste. MLD helps to speed healing, reduce inflammation, pain, and reduces scaring.
Fatigue, Mild Depression and Chronic Soft Tissue Pain: Symptoms like fatigue, mild depression and chronic soft tissue pain call for the gentleness of manual lymphatic drainage. MLD stimulates the immune system and can have an energizing effect on the body’s qi/chi or vital organs.
Sluggish Immune System: Frequent colds and allergies are indications for MLD. Healthy adults should be able to resists most mild illnesses to which they are exposed the immune system may be sluggish. In that case, MLD will stimulate the circulation of white blood cells through the lymph system and patently improve the condition.
Relieving Stress and Tension: Stress triggers the sympathetic nervous system, the well known fight or flight state, arousing the body’s defenses. Chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol are secreted into the bloodstream, causing tense muscles.
Scar Tissue: Scar tissue obstructs lymph flow. Lymph vessels damaged by injury or surgery are scarred, and lymph flow is hindered. New lymph vessels may not grow through the scar tissue in an organized way to connect to lymph circulation on the other side of the scar. The obstruction of lymph flow leads to accumulation of fluid in tissue around the scar. MLD reduces edema and also softens and minimizes scars, improving circulation. One of the effects of MLD is to move tissue fluid around the obstruction, toward areas with less tissue fluid, and from there to unobstructed lymph vessels. Massaging as soon as allowable after an injury or surgery actually helps to develop in more organized way so that they are smaller, smoother, and more flexible than scar tissue that hasn’t had the benefit of massage.
Enhancing the Skin: Unhealthy skin caused by poor circulation improves with MLD. MLD removes waste and toxins from the skin cells and stimulates blood circulation, bringing nutrients to the skin. This is particularly useful in esthetics. MLD helps such conditions as acne, rosacea, and eczema. Avoid doing MLD during the acute phase of any skin condition. MLD benefits the red, thickened, coarse skin that results from chronic edema and that is common in the lower extremities of clients with lymphedema. However, MLD is not recommended on any areas that are infected or inflamed (red, hot swollen, and painful), as this could spread infectious microorganisms beyond the infected area into tissue that has no been infected. MLD should be delayed until the condition has been treated and is improving.
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