Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a gentle, rhythmic technique used to promote drainage within the lymphatic system. Developed by Physicians Emil and Estrid Vodder, MLD can help reduce swelling, inflammation, chronic pain, and more.

45 minute: $65

60 minute: $85

Lymphatic Drainage FAQ

What is the lymphatic system?


​Great question! In a nutshell, the lymphatic system is a network of vessels and tissues that help detect and fight disease, and that transports fluid and helps your body eliminate waste. Your bloodstream "leaks" fluid containing plasma, electrolytes, proteins, etc. Your lymphatic system collects this fluid and transports much of it back to the bloodstream. It transports the rest to the organs of elimination (kidneys and liver). This process maintains an important fluid balance in your body that keeps you alive. It keeps you from swelling up like a balloon. As fluid (lymph) moves through the lymphatic system, it passes through lymph nodes, which are like the body's "security system." They detect foreign pathogens, or germs that aren't supposed to be there. When pathogens are detected, your body's immune response kicks in, and immune cells are dispatched to fight the pathogen. Your lymphatic tissues (particularly the lymph nodes, thymus, and spleen) house special immune cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are types of white blood cells that fight disease. When your lymph nodes swell up during an infection, like a cold or flu, it's because lymphocytes and other immune cells are fighting the source of infection, and it means your immune system is functioning as it was designed to function.




What conditions can benefit from MLD?


Evidence suggests that receiving regular MLD may provide relief from the following conditions or symptoms: -Chronic pain -Anxiety -Post-surgical edema (swelling) -Edema resulting from injuries or sprains -Venous insufficiency -General fluid retention -Lymphedema -Headaches and migraines -Rheumatoid Arthritis -Fibromyalgia -Lupus -Lyme disease -Psoriasis -Eczema -SIBO -Chronic Fatigue Syndrome -Digestive issues -Sinusitis, and more.




What does MLD feel like?


MLD is very light and gentle. In most areas, five grams of pressure or less is used. This is because your lymphatic capillaries are directly beneath the skin, and are very delicate. Creating a "skin stretch" is one of the most effective ways to affect the lymph capillaries. MLD is also rhythmic and repetitive, mimicking the pumping rhythm of the system. People often fall asleep and snore when receiving MLD :-) I've had clients describe it as "soothing" and "magical." In areas where the fluid is fibrotic, or hardened and lumpy, more than five grams of pressure is used. From my experience, this particularly tends to be true of lymphedema in the legs, and abdominal post-surgical swelling. Slightly deeper, scooping pressure is often used in these areas. At times, this might cause some discomfort, but should never be unbearable.




Why don't you offer 75 or 90 minute sessions for MLD?


MLD is very gentle, but it is a powerful modality. Even though it is calming and relaxing, receiving MLD is an active process for the body, because we are engaging your tissues and organs to move large volumes of fluid. Too much MLD at once could tire out your body, potentially leaving you feeling sluggish, fatigued, or nauseous.




How can MLD help me recover from a surgery?


MLD can reduce swelling and pain, and stimulate tissue regeneration to help you recover more quickly, with better results. From my experience, most clients feel looser and more mobile after the first session, and continue to see improvement with each subsequent session. However, healing is a process. While massages will help you get to feeling and looking better, reducing hardness and lumpiness and swelling, some people take up to a year or even 18 months to see the full and final results without any residual swelling. This is just how the body works; massage isn't a magic cure-all, but it is certainly a tool to help you recover more quickly and with less pain and discomfort.




I've recently had surgery, and I'm swollen, stiff, and in pain. How many sessions will it take me to feel better?


Surgical recovery is a process that varies for every individual. Most people feel relief after the first session, but this doesn't mean one session will get rid of all your swelling and pain. It typically takes a series of sessions over the course of several weeks; the exact number will depend on many factors, including your overall health pre-surgery, what kind(s) of procedures you've had, diet, hydration, and more. Some people will come to me for a series of 4-6 sessions, and will feel satisfied with "graduating" and simply wearing their compression garments and keeping up with self-care after that. Others will do a series of 10-12 sessions for more complete reduction of swelling, or if they have had more invasive surgeries. It is important to note that even with massages, surgeons often tell clients that it can take up to 6, 12, or even 18 months to see the full and final results of your surgery, and residual swelling can be common up to that point. The swelling you experience will fluctuate with your daily activities, hydration, diet, etc. The important thing is to continue making incremental progress towards being able to function, reduce pain and swelling, and avoid complications.




I have had lymph nodes removed. Is it safe for me to receive MLD?


Yes. I am specifically trained and certified to work with individuals who've had lymph nodes removed or radiated. I reroute the fluid using alternate pathways to protect the areas of your lymph system that are compromised. If you've had lymph nodes removed, it is always best to receive MLD from a Certified MLD Therapist (CMLDT), or a Certified Lymphatic Therapist (CLT).




Can MLD help me after a dental procedure?


Yes, it can help you with the infamous chipmunk-face and discomfort. Dental pain can also be reduced when the swelling is brought under control. I recommend coming in the following day, or even same day, after a dental procedure. A 45-minute session is generally sufficient for these situations, as I will primarily work the neck, head, and face.




How can MLD help someone with autoimmunity?


MLD has a soothing effect on the nervous system and the tissues. I see a number of clients with different autoimmune conditions in order to relieve inflammation, reduce swelling that may be part of treatment (i.e. medication or steroid infusions), and to lower the frequency and severity of flare ups. Clients often state that MLD noticeably reduces their pain, and can reduce other symptoms like anxiety, insomnia, and headaches. One thing to note-- it is best not to receive MLD during a flare, as this is sometimes too much for the body and can aggravate symptoms. MLD is best used as a tool for managing everyday symptoms, and preventing future flares or reducing severity of them.




Can MLD help me detox my body?


Detox is a bit of a buzzword right now. It is true that we do inhale and ingest pollutants in our day to day lives. In general, if you're an overall healthy person, your liver and kidneys do a great job detoxing you all on your own. Sometimes, though, the liver gets backed up and the lymphatic system has a greater volume of fluid than it can efficiently move. This may be true if you're feeling fatigued, bloated, inflamed, have unexplained skin issues, and other conditions that aren't responding to traditional medication. Many clients report feeling lighter and more energetic after a session. In rare cases, the body may truly be undergoing a detoxification process (one possible example is mercury poisoning that may occur through dental malpractice or mercury consumption). Lymphatic drainage can support you in this process, but be sure to get clearance from your doctor in such cases.




Do you offer bandaging or compression fitting for clients with lymphedema?


No, I don't offer this. It is generally much more economical for patients to visit a lymphedema clinic, or a physical therapist or occupational therapist. These practitioners are typically able to bill insurance. Once a patient has received this care, I come in as a "maintenance practitioner". This means that, as a massage therapist, I am able to provide MLD at a lower cost than most physical therapists and other medical practitioners, which makes it possible for people to receive MLD on a more regular basis to manage lymphedema.




Do you accept insurance?


No, I do not bill insurance. I am able to accept HSA/FSA payments, but every HSA/FSA is different, and I can't guarantee that yours will cover massage therapy. You will need to check with your HSA/FSA provider to confirm.




Where did you do your training? Are you certified?


Yes, I am a Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist (CMLDT). I received my training and certification through Klose Institute. Following training, I spent a year apprenticing under a lymphatic therapist in Austin, TX.




How soon after a surgery can I begin receiving MLD?


This varies, and is something you should ask your surgeon. However, in general, once your drains are out and your incisions are closed, you can begin receiving massages with me. I do NOT drain fluid out of incisions; I am often asked if I offer this service. There are several reaosns I do not, and why you should not seek out massage therapy from someone who offers this: First, your body swells for a reason after surgery. Your tissues have experienced trauma, so your immune response kicks in; part of that is inflammation and an increase in white blood cells to the area of the trauma. Pushing this fluid out of the body via open wounds is an unnatural interference of your body's natural healing process. Once the fluid is pushed out of the body, your body will just create more. Period. You will continue to swell; having fluid pushed out of your incisions in the first few days after surgery is not a magic pill that will make you heal more quickly. In fact, it is often just an excruciatingly painful process, for which there is no supporting evidence. I believe it is much wiser and safer to allow your tissues time to begin their normal healing process before beginning massage. In the first few days of recovery, your body is already overwhelmed, and needs rest. Additionally, pushing fluid and blood out of open wounds is simply unsafe and can increase your risk of infection. In my personal experience practicing lymphatic drainage for the past five years, I have not seen ANY evidence to suggest that receiving massages before incisions close helps people heal better or more quickly.





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