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Manual Lymphatic Drainage Q & A

Massage - Connective Integration Massage Therapy - Arlington, Texas

How soon can I schedule a appointment for manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) after surgery?

You may start lymphatic drainage 7 days after surgery. Anything before then you will need a doctor's release. You cannot have cellulitis, a hematoma, infection, or fever. Incisions that have not healed must be covered with a band-aide. You must have a medical release from your suregon's office before you schedule your session.


How many manual lymphatic drainage sessions will I need?

For general maintenance it is recommended one manual lymphatic session per month.  After surgery care it is recommend one session or more per week until lymphatic fluid is reduced. For allergies symptoms recommended one to two times per month.


Each session is a case by case assessment to determine what is right for you health needs.


Do you recommend that I invest in manual lymphatic drainage and massage before my surgery?

Yes, I recommend that you invest in at least two sessions or more of MLD along with massage before your surgery. This will aide in preparation of the surgical area for your surgeon. 


How much pressure do you use for manual lymphatic drainage?

I use very light feather strokes to stimulate the lymphatic system. No more than five pounds of pressure is used. Just think of a dime gently being moved across your skin. When MLD is applied it will relax the parasympathetic nervous system creating a calming and therapeutic effect. Manual lymphatic drainage is not a massage.

How do you perform manual lymphatic drainage?

​Lymphatic drainage requires opening of the ports that located in sternum, above the pelvic bone, lower lumbar region, back of the knees and bends of the arm. This includes working with lymphatic channels located in the torso, pelvic area and inner thighs. Light strokes are applied to evacuate fluid to the appropriate lymphatic channels. 

Do you perform manual lymphatic drainage for detox?

No, I do not. Manual lymphatic drainage is not a detox. 


What methods you do perform for manual lymphatic drainage?

I use a combination of Chikly and Vodder methods for MLD. 


How many years of experience do you have?

I have over ten years training and experience in both Chikly and Vodder manual lymphatic drainage methods. My instructor was Don Williams, LMT at "A New You", a continuing educational provider in Fort Worth, Texas.


Why does my stomach make strange sounds when MLD is performed?

Sometimes you may hear gurgling or growling noises when the lymphatic system starts to drain. This is a normal occurrence. You may even feel fluid going through the channels of the lymphatic system, too. 


Here's an analogy: Think of your body as the sink. The lymphatic ports are the drains and pipes are the lymphatic channels of the body. When the drain is "clogged" fluids back up preventing the lymphatic system from doing what it was intended to do - to drain. When the lymph port is "unclogged" the fluid will move to through lymphatic channels so the body can eliminate the fluid like it should. 


Why do I have flatulence when I have a manual lymphatic drainage session?

When lymphatic fluid and waste are moved to the appropriate channels your back and abdominal muscles may relax. It's normal part of waste elimination.


How long will it take for manual lymphatic drainage to work?

When you receive an effective MLD session the results are immediate. Most clients will need to urinate but not limited to producing a bowel movement afterwards. Some clients may see a instant reduction in fluid retention in the tissues especially in the abdominal area.


In a few cases it may take 24-48 hours for your body to eliminate excess fluids. Everyone will respond differently to MLD.

I have lymphodema, will manual lymphatic drainage help?

It may assist with lymphodema yet lymphatic drainage will not help all by itself. There are four step in treatment of lymphodema and lymphatic drainage is merely one step in the process. To reduce lymphodema you will need to be wrapped (compression therapy) after your session. Exercises are performed and given to reduce decongestion during the wrapping period. Once decongestion is reduced you will be fitted for a compression garment. It is very important to wear your compression garments, perform daily exercises and elevate the affect limb when possible to reduce edema in the limb.  Another vital part of the process is skin care to reduce infection. 

Lymphatic drainage may aide in clearing blockages preventing drainage to the affected area. If the lymph is hard you will need to be wrapped.

Make sure you have be diagnosed by a doctor to confirm that you do indeed have lymphodema before you schedule your session.

Poor vein health, removal of lymph nodes, radiation, certain medicines, and/or myofasical contradictions are some causes for lymphodema. It is important that your MLD therapist work with your physical therapist or occupational therapist that has a background in wrapping (compression therapy).

At this time I do not offer wrapping therapy but do offer kinseo-tapping with maunal lymphatic drainage. This is usually for those that prefer not to go the traditional wrapping method for lymphodema.

Why do I break out after a manual lymphatic drainage sessions?

There is a possibility that Jarisch-Herxheimer Reaction (healing crisis) may occur after your session. Herxheimer is a metabolic reaction when the body removes metabolic waste (endotoxin) from pathogen die off too quickly. You may experience breakouts, headaches, nausea, fatigue, soreness, or flu like symptoms.

Massage therapy is not a substitution for medical treatment. The massage therapist cannot diagnose, treat or prevent disease. The therapist can only recommend products and services. Please consult a medical physician.


Suzan Walker, LMT, CR, LDT
Connective Integration Massage Therapy
Arlington, Texas

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