What is MLD?

Manual   Lymphatic  Drainage



The Lymphatic or “Lymph” System is the garbage disposal system of the body. It is often referred to as the “second circulatory system” and flows throughout the entire body.

Pre-surgery: One to three treatment sessions are recommended.  Benefits may include:

  • preparation of tissue for surgery,
  • reduces oedema and swelling; it may allow surgery to be scheduled sooner,
  • stimulation of the immune system,
  • induces a state of relaxation.


Post-surgery or injury:

After cosmetic surgery or any injury such as a sprained ankle, or as a result from disease, the lymph fluid may become stagnant and create an edema in the surrounding tissues. While this is a protective measure of our bodies to cushion the injury, the swelling may not resolve itself within a desired time frame, thus creating great discomfort and pain. Benefits of lymphatic massage may include:

  • reduction in post-surgical oedema or swelling,
  • encourages lymphatic “re-routs,
  • pain reduction,
  • detoxification of body tissues helps reverse build-up of toxins secondary to effects of medication,
  • stimulates fluid circulation,
  • stimulates the immune system and helps prevent post-surgical infections,
  • improves skin regeneration and wound healing and optimises the scarring process.



Manual lymphatic drainage has been proven effective in my practice to relieve the symptoms of fluid in the ears, such as with Meniere's disease. In one instance the client had the feeling of fulness in the ears, along with vertigo, nausea and hearing loss. Only three 1/2 hour sessions of lymphatic drainage, combined with accu pressure and targeted reflexology almost completely eradicated the symptoms that this client had suffered for many months. MLD is gentle and safe for the elderly.


Additional information on Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage:

Lymphatic drainage is a very specialised massage technique designed to attain and sustain proper functioning of the lymph system.   There are several different methods/schools of lymphatic drainage – Casley-smith, Ludec, Chikly and the more frequently used and better known, Vodder. Marion is certified in Vodder Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) techniques. The lymphatic system forms part of our immune system, helping cope with infection by cleansing/detoxifying the body's tissues.  Unlike the circulatory system, where the heart pumps blood around the body, lymph vessels rely upon hundreds of tiny muscular units called lymphangions contracting throughout the lymph vessels to propel the flow of lymph fluid.  This enables the transport of numerous substances i.e., proteins, toxins, hormones, fatty acids, immune cells to the lymph nodes, which process them. There are 400-700 nodes in the human body.  Almost half of these are located in the abdomen alone.  

Many nodes also are located in the neck area. The main groups of nodes can be found in the major articulation folds of the body i.e.: armpits and groin. Lymph nodes have specific functions such as filtration and purification of lymph fluid, and removal of toxins and dead cells concentration of the lymph fluid as well as producion of lymphocytes (immune cells).

Having passed through these nodes, lymph fluid eventually drains into the venous system and is eventually removed from the body as urine via the kidneys. If any part of the lymph system gets damaged due to surgery, trauma and burns lymph circulation often stagnates and fluids, proteins, cells and toxins accumulate.

Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) first became known in 1935 when Dr Emil Vodder and his wife were living and working in Cannes, France as massage therapists. The majority of their English patients were recovering from persistent colds and they discovered that all those patients had swollen lymph nodes in their necks.  At that stage it was taboo for massage therapists to treat the lymphatic system.  Vodder dared to break the taboo and treated the swollen nodes and the colds vanished.  Supported by this success, he developed MLD.

Lymphatic drainage is a gentle and careful technique.  Lymphatic vessels are less than 1mm in diameter on average.  The more superficial vessels and are even smaller in diameter.  Therefore, the techniques of lymphatic drainage must be performed slowly and gently – nevertheless, the application must be strong enough to not glide over the skin; instead, stretch the skin gently in the desired drainage direction.  The techniques must never be so strong as to compress the lymphatic vessels.

Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage

Due to the nature of the lymphatic system, lymphatic drainage can prove beneficial in the correction of numerous conditions as well as in maintenance of good good health.  Lymphatic Drainage works to help re-circulate body fluids and stimulate functioning of the immune system.  Results may include: 

-Reduction in edema (swelling)
-Regeneration of tissues (e.g., from burns and pre & post  surgical scarring)
-Immune system stimulation- Reduction of symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
-Pain relief
-Deep relaxation to aid insomnia, depression and stress

 Manual lymphatic drainage is safe for pregnant women, the elderly and children.  It is often facilitated to aid the detoxification process after an illness or at times of healing and weight loss. In addition, MLD may aid in cellulite reduction. This extremely gentle technique leaves the recipient calm, rejuvenated and relaxed and is an excellent massage for people with sensitivity to pressure.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: CHF (Congestive Heart Failure), some forms of Cancer, Cellulitis and other acute infections. There may be exceptions. If you suffer from any of these conditions, please ask your doctor for a clearance to be treated with Manual lymphatic drainage massage before your appointment