By Kim Derrick, LMT, CLT, FDN-P
Over the past year, the Teal Center has seen a huge jump in the number of clients coming in for manual lymphatic drainage (MLD)/ lymph drainage massage (LDM) following liposuction surgery. Given the wide variation in the range of knowledge on our client’s part, we at the Teal Center, have put together this list of our most frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) for anyone contemplating or having recently undergone surgery. Rest assured that we are here to help you heal in the fastest, least painful and most cost-effective way we know.
In no specific order, here are some of the most common FAQ’s we get:
1. Will MLD/LDT help me with my pain and healing following surgery? In our experience, the answer is a resounding YES. Frankly, we are amazed that so many are unaware of the healing and pain-reducing benefits of lymphatic drainage. There is no question that MLD/LDT greatly helps with post-surgery pain resulting from swelling and that it can hasten healing time.
2. How soon after my surgery should I be coming in for an MLD/LDT treatment? This answer varies greatly. Everyone has a different anatomy, physiology and internal biochemistry and thus healing takes place at different rates for different people. Some would suggest that clients come in perhaps a week or so post-surgery as in many cases, this can help avoid or lessen painful swelling. Once swelling hardens, it may take more effort, time and thus cost (more appointments) for the body to reabsorb and process this swollen material. Usually your doctor has recommendations in this regard and clients should always be guided by their doctor’s advice.
3. Will MLD/LDT hurt? Manual Lymphatic Drainage generally will not hurt at all. In fact, most of our clients fall asleep and find it an extremely relaxing and stress-reducing activity. Know however, that if you come in long after your surgery and the internal fluid causing the swelling has become hard and fibrotic, then there may be some welcome discomfort as the therapist first will have the additional job of softening up this tissue in order to get the body to reabsorb it.
4. How many sessions should I plan on getting? Again, the answer is that it depends. Here are a few questions that may give you an idea of how to think about your particular needs and situation. How big is your incision area? (The larger the area, the greater the swelling so more time may be needed). Where are those areas located (because certain areas drain easier than others)? How much fibrotic tissue is present when you came in for your first MLD/LDT session? (In general, the harder the tissue, the more time will be needed). How much money have you budgeted for this part of the healing process? (Yes, you should be thinking of including this in your budget along with your surgery costs). Are there any underlying conditions that might slow the process? (The underlying stress levels of the body will play a great role in determining a rapid recovery. Stress aggravates swelling.) As a VERY general rule of thumb, some therapists may like to see clients 2-3 times a week for the initial week or two, depending on the severity of the swelling and if there is any pain. Once the client understands their swelling and their healing better, then sessions can taper off to once a week or longer stretches. As you can imagine, there are many variables at play so it is hard to predict the amount of sessions prior to the initial assessment.
Although this information was compiled for folks undergoing or contemplating liposuction, MLD is also very popular for people with edema, for detox and allergies, for breast health, general stress reduction and for stimulating deeper healing. We hope this information has been helpful and welcome you to try out an MLD/LDM in the future. To book a session, log into your MindBody account or feel free to call us at 703-522-7637.