Manual therapy, especially Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD), can play an important role in post-surgery recovery. Primarily used to reduce inflammation but also playing a role in the reduction of pain, stiffness and bruising, these benefits of MLD are being confirmed in more and more research studies. At MTC, we have a team of Manual Lymphatic Drainage Certified therapists, trained in the Vodder Technique. In our practice, we personally witness the reduction of swelling and discomfort for these patients.
It’s not unusual to hear in a client’s first visit to us: “If I had known it would be like this, I would have never had the procedure!” By the time they have just a few sessions, they are much more upbeat and before the sessions are over, we have never heard anyone express regrets! Faster recovery time with less pain and discomfort makes for very happy patients and valuable referrals for you.
Many plastic and cosmetic surgeons now offer Manual Lymphatic Drainage therapy inside their clinics. Others are referring their patients to Certified therapists who have experience with post-cosmetic surgery. Because our MLD Certified therapists are also Licensed Massage Therapists, we can use other gentle techniques along with Manual Lymphatic Drainage to speed recovery.
About Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
Swelling is natural after an injury or surgery. Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a particular technique useful for swelling. It helps keep the lymphatic drainage system functioning at a peak level by stimulating the collector vessels and lymph nodes. Stimulation of the lymphatic system increases the rate at which the body removes waste, dead cell particles, and inflammatory agents from our tissue. Accelerating the lymphatic flow has been demonstrated to reduce swelling and bruising in the injured region. Studies indicate that as the volume of fluid at the injury site is reduced, rehabilitation time may be shortened.
At the core of our treatment is a specific massage technique known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage. MLD is a gentle rhythmical massage that acts on both the lymphatic and nervous systems. It has been shown to increase lymph flow in the lymphatic channels by up to ten times normal levels – channeling the fluid into an effective drainage route.
In addition to acting on the lymphatic system, MLD reduces sympathetic nervous system activity allowing the parasympathetic system to be predominant. Parasympathetic nerves innervate smooth muscle in the body. As the lymph pre-collector and collector vessels are wrapped with smooth muscle, the MLD technique can thereby stimulate these muscles to contract further increasing lymph flow.
Not all cosmetic procedures are the same, therefore recoveries should not be treated like one solution fits all. In addition, what works best for one tummy tuck patient may not be the best for another, even though both had the same procedure. At MTC, we treat each client an an individual and look for the best possible combination of techniques to assist in their recovery.
By moving the lymphatic fluid away from the tummy tuck area with lymphatic drainage massage, both swelling and bruising are reduced. This helps to make the tummy tuck results more immediately apparent. In addition to helping you to have an attractive abdomen, drainage massage will also make it clear more quickly whether further surgery is necessary or if your tummy tuck has allowed you to achieve your desired goals.
MLD can move the lymphatic fluid away from swollen areas without affecting the healing process. MLD after breast augmentation can help improve the results of the surgery and dramatically increase the patient’s level of comfort.
Following breast augmentation, patients may notice the effects of the body’s immune system as it responds to the perceived trauma of surgery. When the immune system detects an injury, it directs lymphatic fluid to the area to aid in the healing process. While this is a desirable effect during an injury and is not harmful in any way following a surgery, the swelling and bruising that accompany this effect can be uncomfortable and may obscure the results of your breast augmentation surgery.
MLD is an effective method to treat any swelling and lumpiness experienced after a liposuction procedure, speeding recovery time. Not only do patients appreciate the pain reduction often experienced from MLD, but they can see their procedure results much sooner with the swelling reduction. It’s more common than not for our liposuction clients to have what they see as a “problem area” of hardness or lumpiness after the procedure. MLD and other manual therapy techniques can also soften these areas.
Facial Procedures / Facelifts
While many cosmetic procedures can benefit from MLD very soon after completion, facial procedures may require more time before beginning any manual therapy. As with any surgery or procedure, we tell all clients to get permission from their doctor before beginning any post-treatment. Dr. Andrew Jacono, MD, FACS, is a New York-based plastic surgeon, who states this on his website (www.newyorkfacialplasticsurgery.com) in regards to facial procedures:
Some patients may have residual swelling at the sixth week. Facial massage and Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) can expedite recovery. MLD is a technique that assists the movement of lymph fluid in the lymph vessels and body tissues. The lymphatic vessels are drains that run throughout the body. They remove swelling and fluid in the facial skin and tissue. MLD is a precise touch technique that helps move fluid through the lymph vessels to resolve swelling.
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Some Q & A
Q: Why Manual Lymphatic Drainage after liposuction, Smart-lipo, Cool Sculpting or other cosmetic surgery procedure?
A: Patients many notice a hardness or lumpiness to the areas treated with liposuction especially in the abdominal area and even more so if combined with other body contouring procedures (such as fat injections). This is normal right after the procedure. This post-surgical lymphedema is caused by inflammation and trauma from the cannula moving under the skin. Channels are formed by the cannula that can fill up with fluid and the tissue also becomes swollen. Manual Lymphatic Drainage helps to move the fluid by gently pumping it back into the lymph vessels. Reducing the swelling can reduce discomfort. Without MLD, the inflammation can evolve into fibrosis or a seroma can form. Many doctors prescribe Manual Lymphatic Drainage after liposuction or other plastic surgery procedures to make sure their patients get the best possible results from their procedure.
Q: Does MLD help get rid of bruising?
A: Yes. That is one of the best applications of MLD. Bruises are an accumulation of cellular debris and old red blood cells in the tissue. Lymph Drainage Therapy greatly reduces healing time for bruises by cleansing the extracellular spaces where these substances are trapped.
Q: Is MLD painful?
A: Performed properly it is not painful. The Vodder Technique is the most respected method of Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) over the world. It is NOT traditional massage. It is a specialized, advanced bodywork modality that uses a gentle, rotating, pumping motion that moves the lymph fluid without increasing the blood circulation.
Q: How many treatments will a patient need?
A: It is ideal to receive at least one or two MLD treatments prior to a procedure. There are many different things that can influence healing. Some patients get 1-6 treatments post-operatively and that is enough, especially if the only area of liposuction was the legs, knees, or flanks. People getting liposuction to the abdomen often find they require up to 12 sessions. Occasionally a client will need more than 12, especially if they had “Smart-lipo”. Also, patients who get multiple procedures at the same time (lipo and a tummy tuck, or lipo and a buttock enhancement; Brazilian Butt Lift) may need more sessions than someone who only gets one procedure.