MLD for Post Surgical Recovery - How to heal faster from your tummy tuck, mommy makeover, BBL, breast reconstruction or Lipo procedure
Within the past decades a whole new form of post-surgical healing has emerged – Post Surgical Manual Lymphatic Drainage.
While there are therapists trained to perform MLD for Lymphedema, and other health and wellness purposes, they are not necessarily trained or believers in applying MLD to patients recovering from cosmetic or non elective procedures. . Evidence of it's growing popularity is in the number of post op clients who call saying their surgeon "prescribed" MLD as part of their followup protocol.
The Lymphatic System
The Lymphatic System is a complex pathway of specialized capillaries, trunks, and nodes which assist in returning fluids back into the circulatory system. As a passive system, it has no central pump, like the heart, to move fluids. That task is left to the vein like structures to "pump" fluids,
The post-surgical case for MLD
Inflammation. (and fibrosis). It all really comes down to inflammation. Surgery is trauma. And trauma triggers a trauma response. Part of that response is swelling. Swelling is a normal part of healing, but it can be uncomfortable and chronic swelling can lead to other issues. Manual Lymphatic Drainage helps the lymphatic drainage system function at a peak level to draw fluids away from a swollen area. Stimulation of the lymphatic system increases the rate at which the body removes waste, dead cell particles, and inflammatory agents from our tissue.s Accelerating the lymphatic flow has been demonstrated to reduce swelling and bruising in the injured region. Studies indicate that as the volume of fluid at the injury site is reduced, rehabilitation time may be shortened. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) can play an important role in post-surgery recovery to reduce inflammation but also by playing a role in the reduction of pain, stiffness and bruising,
You may receive Post-Surgical MLD treatments within 3 days after surgery.
Doctors who know of Post Surgical MLD will sometimes suggest treatment as soon as 3-days after surgery. This early intervention assists with helping to minimize bruising and swelling. However, some doctors suggest or even mandate patients wait from 2-6 weeks after surgery before receiving treatment. With a Doctor's permission, I will work on clients generally beginning 3 days to a week after surgery. No work will be done on or near an incision this early - only after it has healed. Generally after 2-3 weeks all work is safe unless there are complications with your surgery.
Your MLD Therapist should have wound care or medical training if you have issues with your surgical site.
One current trend we are seeing is that patients are flying out of state or out of the country for cosmetic procedures that are more affordable. Often the client returns home with a paper of "instructions" and there is no real medical followup. MLD itself can only do so much, and some Doctors are simply passing the patient responsibility forward. If you are experiencing any issues such as abnormal oozing, sharp pain. redness that is abnormal or other signs of infection, please seek competent local medical care or see your doctor if local. MLD therapists only do what they do which is limited.
Pushing fluids and tissues out from unhealed incisions is NOT MLD
There is a "understanding" in various places in the United States and abroad that the way to get lymphatic fluid out of your body is to reopen the incisions and push fluid out manually. First, this process is outside the scope of practice (100% illegal) for any massage therapist or MLD therapist in any of the 50 United States. Unless the person performing this process is a nurse or similarly licensed healthcare worker in a clinic with biohazard bags, gloves, face shield, gowns, etc., they should not be doing this. If you are a surgery patient and someone wants you to do this, or to do this to you, run.
YouTube videos are NOT an alternative to hands-on MLD - But I can show you Self Care MLD strokes you can do at home
When time and budget allow, MLD is best performed by a trained therapist, however not everyone has the time or budget for a series of visits. One challenge with online videos is that you never know what you are getting. I see massage videos all the time that contradict the actual work. Further it is easy to "mimic, " maybe, but if you don't know the "why" behind what you are doing, or know if you are doing it right, you may be doing things contrary or ineffective to the healing process. If you want to do MLD self care at a minimum, book a treatment with some extra time and go home with a self care routine that you know will be effective.
MLD does NOT use brushes, tools, cupping, bamboo sticks, rollers, or creams.
MLD uses only the hands and is performed without oils, lotions or creams. It involves movement of the skin in particular directions, and gentle pressure toward the body. Any other technique, tool, cream, or even cupping, is not part of the Post Surgical MLD process and should be avoided. If you have a therapist who is insistent on using creams, tool, cups or rollers, just say “No!” and tell them to use hands only. If they refuse, simply end the session and leave. There are instances where cups and tools can be used during the healing process, but it is not for lymphatic drainage.
You Deserve a Better Healing
In all cases, a post-surgical lymphatic drainage session should be gentle and complete, Post surgical MLD is an excellent way to help promote the healing process and is appropriate for almost any surgery or procedure.
I treat clients in my Needham, MA office who have had procedures such as lipo-360, mommy makeover, breast reduction or augmentation, Brazilian butt lifts, abdominoplasty (tummy tucks), cool sculpting, brachioplasty, facelifts, hip replacements, shoulder surgeries, lumpectomies, mastectomies and reconstruction, gender affirmation surgeries. . If your situation involves Lymphedema, active cancer or is in general more complex, my colleague, Virginia Murphy, is available to handle almost special care cases from her nearby Hanover studio, She has hundreds of hours of training in oncology massage, lymphatic systems and manual lymphatic drainage. We would like to be your healing partner. Together, we see clients on Martha's Vineyard as well, me year round, Virginia from spring to fall.
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I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.