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Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) safe for Pre and Post-Surgery?

Carmen Schmandtke - Bayleaf Manual Therapies - Dip Rem Massage, CERT IV Massage, MLD Level 1

Many people have no idea that it is safe to a receive an MLD treatment both before and after surgical procedures.

It is the only massage modality that is deemed to be medically safe. Having an MLD treatment prior to surgery can assist to prepare the area of your body that is about to undergo surgery. MLD stimulates the lymph vessels of the lymphatic system which removes cellular waste products, bacteria, viruses, excess proteins, excess fluid and any other unwanted substances from the spaces between your cells; essentially this style of massage is cleaning the tissues.

The lymph vessels then move the unwanted substances to the lymph nodes where it is cleaned and filtered out by the immune system.

Though this process happens naturally in the body, it is a slow process. When you receive an MLD treatment it stimulates the movement of lymph vessels to move faster throughout the body. The effects of MLD treatment may reduce the risk of post-surgical complications such as infection, excessive swelling, bruising and scar tissue that can later restrict mobility.

Additional benefits of receiving MLD massage prior to surgery is the deeply relaxing effect it can have on the nervous system, relaxing the patient and helping with nerves. By shifting the nervous system into a more relaxed state by receiving the MLD treatment, it can support the entire body in adjusting to the physical and sometimes traumatic changes about to occur due to surgery.

Swelling occurs after surgery as part of the usual response and is something we all have to deal with. While some swelling is normal and a necessary part of the inflammatory healing process, excessive or prolonged swelling can become problematic leading to longer healing times, increased pain and increased risk of infection. Persistent swelling can adversely affect scar formation causing unwanted adhesions and decreased range of motion.

MLD has been shown to have great success in treating post-surgical swelling as it can address these issues. After surgery, the lymphatic and immune system are working overtime to repair and clean the area impacted by the surgery. Receiving an MLD treatment post-surgery, is an important and beneficial treatment as it increases localized circulation of fresh blood and lymph, which supports and stimulates the lymphatic system by flushing unwanted cellular debris and excess fluid at a faster rate.

This may accelerate the healing process and adverse scar formations may be minimized, it may also decrease the risk of infection, swelling, bruising and pain. Patients may find their rehabilitation more efficient, and it may effectively improve the functional integration of the patient getting back to their daily lives.

Research by Bruno Chikly* confirms that post 24 hours after receiving an MLD treatment, our bodies produce 20% more immune-competent cells.

An additional benefit of having a MLD treatment after surgery is the powerful effect of relaxation, as it can calm the entire nervous system. When the body shifts into this more relaxed state, it is given a chance to activate its natural healing mechanisms.

MLD is such a gentle treatment, it can be received within days of surgery and post-surgery. Treatment frequency after surgery will depend on the type of surgery and the patient.

*Silent Waves Theory and Practice of Lymph Drainage Therapy by Bruno Chikly

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