Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage (MLD)

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage (MLD) is a massage modality where manual drainage assistance is done on the skin thru swift hand manipulation utilizing the skin’s pliability, stretching the skin in a circular motion, and letting that pressure go, thus as the skin recoils back, forming a circle.

In this way, affecting superficial lymphatic vessels, resulting in the increase of fluid and stimulating contractions of the lymphangions, the main unit of the lymphatic system, at the same time stimulating the production and uptake of lymphatic fluid, moving it along into the lymph nodes for filtration, then the main lymphatic trunks and emptying it into the circulatory system for reuse if possible.

In other words, recycling the good stuff bringing it back into the circulatory system to be re-used again and getting rid of any waste and harmful stuff.

The Lymphatic system works hand on hand with our circulatory system and some of its main functions are:

  • To return protein and water from the interstitium (fluid in which cells float in, within our bodies) to the circulatory system.
  • It absorbs protein, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins (chyle) through the intestinal lymph vessels.
  • It assists with the immune system response of getting rid of pathogen causing agents, like bacteria, viruses, and cancer cells.

Some general benefits of MLD

  • Improvement of lymph capillary uptake.
  • Increase of lymphangion activity, (the main unit of the Lymphatic system).
  • It has a relaxing and soothing effect.
  • It acts as a pain reducer as it works with our bodies’ ability to suppress pain thru nerve stimulation per the “Gate Control Theory”.
  • It is a way to re-direct fluid around compromised Lymphatic ducts or nodes, such as in cases like lymphedema or damaged lymph nodes due to radiation or other cancer treatments.

Some conditions that can benefit from MLD, by encouraging faster healing and reduced swelling, among other benefits, are:

  • Sprains
  • Whiplash
  • Hematoma
  • Post-surgical edema
  • Oncology MLD (with a doctor’s referral)
  • Palliative Care/Hospice care (As permitted per nursing and medical staff)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)

Other conditions where there is neurological, nervous system or autoimmune system compromised where MLD massage can be beneficial are: Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, and Traumatic Brain Injury.

For individuals with Lymphedema (a condition that presents as swelling that generally occurs in one of your arms or legs. Sometimes both arms or both legs swell,) a complete decongestive therapy treatment team is recommended, and is offered in other facilities. Maria can offer suggestions upon request. MLD can be helpful for these conditions as it stimulates the parasympathetic response in the body, thus it helps calm the nervous system.

In addition, MLD massage can help with relaxation for anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and general stress reduction, as well as for general detoxification and enhanced immune function.

LMT Maria L. Bustamante
LMT Maria L. Bustamante

Maria L. Bustamante, LMT, CMLDT is trained in the Vodder Method. The Vodder Method goes back to the 1930’s where the term “manual lymph drainage” was coined by the Vodders (a husband and wife team consisting of a Physician and a Massage Therapist) from Copenhagen, Denmark. Dr. Emil Vodder, Ph. D., (1896-1986) and his wife Estrid Vodder, both courageously discovered the modality and utilized it when the lymphatic system was not yet well known and considered forbidden.

Together they travelled to France, where they encountered clients from England with swollen lymph nodes and because of the damp climate people suffered from colds almost chronically. The Vodders took interest in their client’s distress and discovered a manual modality where the lymph capillaries could be stimulated to enhance their performance. The Vodder technique was ahead of its time and is known today as the Vodder Method. It is with great excitement and humility that I am able to render services in this modality.

See more about our Therapeutic Massage offerings at Essential Health here.