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Manual Lymphatic Drainage


Manual Lymph drainage (MLD), is a technique initially developed by the Vodders (Dr. Emil Vodder and his wife, Estrid) in 1936 in Paris for treatment of swollen lymph nodes. In the 1980's Dr. Robert Lerner, the “Pioneer of Manual Lymph Drainage", brought their techniques to the USA from Europe, and the lymphedema treatment movement here was born.


MLD is a gentle manual therapy technique. It should not be confused with a traditional massage. Rather, it is a light, rhythmic, skin mobilization combined with gentle pressure focusing on key areas of the body where the bulk of the lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels are found. MLD is coupled with deep breathing techniques called diaphragmatic breathing to help open the deep lymphatic pathways. 


MLD is performed without the heavy application of oils or lotion. MLD is NEVER painful or performed in an aggressive or vigorous manner. Though sometimes the body is "tender to touch" following surgery or injury, MLD does not hurt. The goal of MLD is to reduce inflammation, swelling, bruising and pain and to improve the function of the immune system. MLD helps expedite the flow of excess fluid out of the tissues and and return it to the cardiovascular system. The cardiovascular system eventually transports the excess fluids, along with some protein, fat, and metabolic waste to the liver and urinary system and it is eliminated


How do I prepare for a MLD session? Hydration is extremely important. If you are dehydrated, or even suboptimally hydrated, the treatment will not work. Drink a minimum of 8, 8 oz glasses of water in the 3 days leading up to treatment. Whenever possible, avoid eating anything 2 hours before the session or have a small, light meal if necessary. 

Does MLD actually work? There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that lymphatic drainage therapy can be effective in reducing swelling, improving circulation, and promoting overall wellness. Many people who have tried lymphatic drainage report feeling lighter, less bloated, and deeply relaxed or more energized after a session. Additionally, some studies have shown that lymphatic drainage can help with conditions such as lymphedema, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind lymphatic drainage therapy, many individuals swear by its benefits and find it to be a valuable tool in their health and wellness routine.


Do you use any tools? The Vodder technique is a "MANUAL" technique meaning it is hands only. However, there are times where a vibration mat or vibration machine may be used to enhance the client's relaxation, improve circulation, soften hardened tissue, or treat scar tissue.

Do you offer wood therapy? No. 

Do you offer any other techniques? Mend is the only therapeutic massage practice in Northern New Jersey devoted exclusively to providing Vodder style MLD. However, there are times when other techniques, such as myofascial release and other scar tissue mobilization techniques, are combined with MLD in order to enhance the healing process. 

Do you offer Brazilian style lymphatic massage? No.

Will lymphatic drainage get rid of my cellulite? Lymphatic drainage can help temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite by improving circulation and reducing fluid retention in the body. However, it is not a permanent solution for getting rid of cellulite. To effectively reduce cellulite, a combination of healthy diet, regular exercise, and possibly other treatments, including surgery, may be necessary. Lymphatic drainage can be a helpful addition to a comprehensive cellulite reduction plan, but it is not be the sole solution.

Does MLD hurt? Lymphatic drainage should not hurt when done correctly by a trained professional. It is a gentle and non-invasive technique that should feel soothing and relaxing. However, some individuals may experience very mild tenderness during the treatment if they have a lot of built-up waste in their lymph nodes. However, this is uncommon. It is important to communicate with your therapist about any discomfort you may be feeling so they can adjust the treatment accordingly. Overall, lymphatic drainage should not be painful and should leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

How will I feel after the session? After lymphatic drainage, you will likely feel lighter and more energized. The treatment helps to eliminate waste and excess fluid from the body, which can leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. You may also experience improved circulation and reduced swelling in areas that were previously congested. Overall, you anticipate feeling a sense of overall well-being and profound relaxation after a lymphatic drainage session.

Can I work out after a session? Yes. Physical activity before and after a session as it helps to enhance lymphatic drainage.

Is there anything I should do after the session to enhance the effects? Exercise (especially swimming, yoga and Pilates), avoiding sodium and alcohol, hydrating well, and avoiding heavy/fatty meals after the session will help to promote lymphatic drainage and help you get the most out of your session.

How long with the effects of the session last? In general, the effects of a lymphatic drainage session can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. However, for more chronic conditions or ongoing issues, regular sessions may be necessary to maintain the benefits of lymphatic drainage over the long term. It is important to work with a qualified practitioner to determine the frequency and duration of lymphatic drainage sessions that will be most effective for your individual situation. Proper self-care including maintaining a reduced sodium diet, hydrating, exercise, compression garments (where appropriate) and eating an anti-inflammatory diet will help to prolong the effects of treatment.

Will MLD make me lose weight? Manual lymphatic drainage is a gentle massage technique that helps to stimulate the lymphatic system and promote the removal of excess fluid and waste from the body. While it can help reduce swelling and improve circulation, it is not a weight loss method. Losing fat requires a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise, and potentially other interventions such as medication, nutritional supplementation or strength training. Manual lymphatic drainage may complement these efforts by improving overall health and well-being, but it is not a direct solution for losing fat.

Can I have MLD if I have a medical condition? Lymphatic drainage for medical conditions is a therapeutic technique that can help alleviate symptoms and improve overall health for individuals with various health issues. This gentle massage technique helps to stimulate the lymphatic system, which plays a crucial role in the body's immune response and fluid balance. By promoting the flow of lymph fluid, lymphatic drainage can help reduce swelling, inflammation, and pain associated with conditions such as lymphedema, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Additionally, it can also support purification processes in the body and enhance overall well-being. Overall, incorporating lymphatic drainage into a comprehensive treatment plan can be beneficial for managing symptoms and improving quality of life for individuals with medical conditions. Please call to inquire if MLD is the right treatment for you. Because it is a powerful, effective modality, MLD is not right for everyone and in some cases may be contraindicated.

Do you encourage dry brushing for lymphatic drainage? While some people may claim that dry brushing has benefits lymphatic drainage, there is currently no scientific evidence to support these claims. In fact, some experts warn that dry brushing can actually cause irritation and damage to the skin if done too aggressively. It is important to approach alternative health practices with caution and rely on evidence-based methods for achieving optimal health and wellness.

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