Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) FAQ

What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (MLD)?
A very gentle “light touch” manual therapy involving the Lymphatic system, it enhances the body’s natural healing process. It is cleansing, rejuvenating and energizing.

What is the Lymphatic System?
“If your body were a city, your lymphatic system is the Police Force and Rubbish Collectors”
The lymphatic system is a major body system and in fact a larger system (containing more fluid) than the blood system. The Lymphatic System plays a major role in immunity: it removes excess fluids and waste products including toxins and bacteria from around the tissue cells and assists with transporting nutrients and oxygen to cells. This fluid and product is transported to lymphatic nodes, stationed around the body. Their role is to filter and cleanse the fluid in much the some way as an oil filter cleanses the oil in an automobile. Waste is removed in the nodes and eventually passed out of the body. The lymphatic nodes also play an important role in immunity, storing and maturing B and T cells used to defend the body against infections and illness. Lymphatic congestion occurs when the lymphatic system becomes overwhelmed. This can happen through lack of exercise, obesity, injuries, illness, stress, pregnancy, surgery and more. It is often demonstrated by swelling in the body tissues such as ankles and feet.
MLD can increase the flow of lymph through the body by twenty times thus maximising the lymphatic systems ability to cleanse the body, fortify the immune system and restore health.

How can MLD help you?
Whether you are seeking a relaxing health therapy session to detoxify the body, to boost energy levels, to stimulate the immune system or address post surgical pain, MLD is a stand alone therapy beneficial for numerous common
conditions including:

  • Headaches/Migraines
  • Sinusitis
  • Reduction of Oedema
  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress reduction
  • Poor immune system function
  • Injuries including sprains/strains
  • Chronic Fatigue/fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Breast pain
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle fatigue/spasm
  • Vertigo
  • Congestion
  • Arthritis/Gout
  • Chemical overload/toxic poisoning
  • Irritable bowel and/or constipation

There are many more ailments, too numerous to name.

What Happens during a MLD treatment?
The session begins, in a private and warm room, with taking details of your medical  history and the reason for your visit. You will be asked to lie down on a therapist
table and appropriate covering will be placed over you—to ensure complete  modesty and comfort.

The treatment commences at the neck to clear the area and “make space” for lymph  fluid to be drawn there, and subsequently processed through the lymphatic duct, for re-entry into the circulatory system.

The next part of the sequence will depend entirely on the particular needs of the individual. Your practitioner will assess your lymphatic circulation and determine the best pathways for draining lymphatic stagnation for your individual needs.

Depending on the treatment, the session will last 30—60 minutes.

MLD is NOT a form of massage. The techniques used are feather-light and specific  in their manoeuvres to both nodes and lymphatic vessels.

History of MLD
Early civilizations knew about an almost clear (Lymph) fluid in the body but believed  it to be part of the blood. The lymphatic system, was first documented in 1622, by an Italian Surgeon Dr Aselli. Then a Belgium Surgeon suggested using Manual Lymphatic Drainage techniques for draining oedema. These techniques were then used in European hospitals. Later in the early 1930s Dr Vodder from Denmark named the method Manual Lymphatic Drainage.

Today MLD sits comfortably in both the Conventional Medical and Complementary Health worlds and is an accepted part of Rehabilitation units, Physiotherapy and Massage departments.

Contraindications to MLD

  • Acute inflammation
  • Infection/Fever
  • Major heart conditions
  • Thrombosis/blood clots
  • Malignant Tumours
  • Fresh scarring/burns
  • Bleeding or Haemorrhage

Your Practitioner will explain all contraindications and check that MLD is an appropriate treatment for you. If necessary you may be asked to seek Medical advice beforehand.

Aftercare treatment
Drink plenty of water. Depending on your condition your practitioner may recommend elevating your legs. Remember to give yourself time after treatment for its benefits to integrated fully into your system.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage


Anna Szefczyk-Moore