Manual Lymphatic Drainage


For the past 4 years, I have had Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) twice a week with each session lasting 30-minutes. The therapist starts at my neck, moves down my chest/ stomach/ groin and then starts working on my leg. This has been very helpful and is a very important part of lymphedema management.

Recently, however, I have decided to cut back on MLD sessions and replace them with an extra day of exercise. I will therefore only be doing one MLD session per week.

I made this decision for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I don’t see a huge difference in my swelling with MLD. Sometimes, if my therapist goes away or I leave for vacation and I don’t have MLD for 4 weeks, my leg is neither better or worse for it.

Secondly, a proper MLD session should go for at least 1 hour, however, my therapist does not have the time allocations to do this for me. 30 minutes is not enough to get the lymphatic system flowing properly (in a body that already has a mechanical problem with lymph flow!). I figure that replacing this MLD session with an hour-long exercise session (swimming most likely) will be heaps more beneficial for my leg.

I think this is a really important thing to note: from time to time we need to make changes and evolve with our Lymphedema. To not be scared to change things if you don’t feel like they are working properly. Keep experimenting and keep thinking outside the box for your treatments!

New ideas, new approaches and a new 2018!

self MLD

My goal for 2018 is to become better at self-lymphatic massage. In order to do this, I will seek the help of professionals here in France and get them to show me the correct way to do this. A lot of people do their own self-MLD at home and use special pneumatic compression pumps (such as the Flexitouch system– which I don’t have yet, but would really like one). Other lymphie’s swear by these pumps and have good results using them. They are a great addition to MLD and I would recommend getting one if you are thinking about it.

Another reason I don’t have a pneumatic pump is that some surgeons have advised me against using them after having a lymph node transplant (it’s the same for LVA surgery too). No research has been done on this to conclude either way so for the moment I will err on the side of caution.

Something else I have just started to incorporate into my daily home routine is Endermologie. I have a machine called a Wellbox that uses the principle of cellular stimulation- the machine gently stimulates the skin to reactivate dormant cellular activity. I’m using it to see if it helps improve/ soften tissue and skin quality and to help with lymphatic drainage. At the moment I am doing this every day (if possible) and will keep you updated on the progress.