Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) - Lipoedema and Lymphoedema Management

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a specialist massage used to help reduce swelling.  The goal of the treatment is to gently move fluid from blocked, backed up or overloaded areas of the skin to functioning drainage areas where it can be reabsorbed by the lymphatics.

FG-MLD (Fluoroscopy Guided MLD) is one method of MLD developed using the most current, researched and scientific techniques.  The method has been developed from the work of Prof Jean Paul Belgrado and Prof Albert Leduc who conducted research using dye in the lymph vessels (lymphoscintigraphy) to make real time observations and study the lymphatic system to develop the most effective techniques to move and manage fluid through massage and compression.

What are the benefits of MLD?

  • Reduce swelling
  • Pain relief
  • Increased range of motion
  • A feeling of lightness after treatment
  • Increase immune function
  • Relaxation

Lipoedema and Lymphoedema Management

Both of these conditions are life long and can take a lot of effort to maintain, manage and live with.  MLD is just one element of this.  With Lipoedema and Lymphoedema management you can receive support with compression garments (which ones are most suitable to you and your lifestyle, measuring and fitting), advice on nutrition, movement and exercise, self drainage techniques, how deep breathing can help and techniques to use and emotional support.  Above all you will have a compassionate listener and someone who is there for you.  I am a Specialist Lipoedema Therapist, one of only a handful in the country so you are in the best possible hands. 

What is lymphoedema?

Lymphoedema is a chronic (long-term) condition causing swelling in any part of the body but mainly in arms and legs.  It can be extremely uncomfortable or painful.  It can occur for several reasons.  The most common cause of Lymphoedema in the Western World is due to the removal of lymph nodes during cancer treatment, for example mastectomy and axillary lymph node removal for breast cancer.  Other causes include:

  • Radiotherapy
  • Cancer
  • Accident or trauma
  • Infection (e.g from a bug bite)
  • Inflammatory response
  • Immobility
  • Venous related
  • Obesity

Do I have lymphoedema?

Look out for these symptoms:

  • Swelling in whole or part of a limb
  • Tightness and/or hardness of skin
  • Folds in the skin around the ankle, knees or wrist
  • Aching, heavy feeling
  • Pain and discomfort from weight of the limb
  • Tightly fitting jewellery or watches
  • Dents or ‘pitting’ in the skin
  • Recurrent cellulitis
  • Distortion of shape of limb

If you have some of these symptoms, please also visit your GP for a formal diagnosis.

What is lipoedema?

Lipoedema is a connective tissue and adipose tissue (fat) disorder.  This condition predominantly occurs in people assigned female at birth.  The condition causes a uneven distribution of fat in the body making it look like they have fat legs or arms.  It is an under recognised and under diagnosed condition.  If you carry all of your weight in your legs or arm, lose weight on your upper body and not your lower body, experience pain, swelling and bruising, it could be something more than just being over weight.  The lymphatic system can be affected by the deposits of lipoedemous fat caused by the condition leading to swelling.  While MLD cannot help move the fat, it can help to relieve the pressure and pain caused by excess fluid.

Do I have Lipoedema?

Look out for these symptoms:

  • Other family members with similar body shape
  • Pain and heaviness in legs
  • Disproportionate body size - slim waist and larger below the waist
  • Bilateral - both sides of the body affected in the same way
  • Cuffs around the ankles or wrists with unaffected feet
  • Easily bruised
  • Grainy or lumpy texture under the skin
  • Cannot lose weight from legs through exercise and diet - only lose from top half
  • Noticed changes at puberty, during pregnancy or perimenopause/menopause
  • Hypermobile 

Who else can benefit from MLD?

MLD can be effective on all types of swelling and chronic medical conditions:

  • surgery, such as a hip replacement,
  • cancer related treatment such as lymph node dissection,
  • an injury such as a sprained ankle
  • Chronic Venous insufficiency (CVI) (valves in the veins are weak causing fluid leakage)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Swelling during pregnancy
  • Post cosmetic surgery (liposuction, tummy tucks, BBL)

What to expect during FG-MLD Massage

Your massage will be performed directly on the skin of the effected limb, so some undressing may be necessary.  Every effort will be taken to maintain your privacy and decency using towels and drapes.  For mobile sessions, all equipment will be supplied including a massage table.  Special soft balls will be used during the massage to empty nodes of lymph in areas such as under your arm, groin and behind the knee.  These can be purchased to be used at home for Self Lymphatic Drainage (SLD).   In the case of Lymphoedema, unfortunately, there is currently no cure, but you will be shown how manage it and help reduce the negative effects of lymphoedema.  This will include how to perform Self Lymphatic Drainage, advise on diet, exercise and the wearing of compression garments.  You may require a series of sessions to get your swelling under control.

After your massage you may find that you will pass urine more often as your body processes the increased reabsorption of lymph.

If you would like to discuss this any aspect of this treatment or symptoms you have, please get in touch to arrange an informal chat. 

Click here to book your appointment