About Manual Lymph Drainage

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a unique gentle skin technique that assists the restoration of fluid equilibrium in the body tissues. First developed by Dr. Vodder in the 1932, it has now grown into an accredited, international manual technique to assist lymph flow and drainage of tissues. Training, in total, is 160 hours of classroom education, is the most extensive available and exceeds the requirements of Lymphology Association of North America (LANA).

The MLD technique induces a pumping effect in the tissue which can speed the lymphatic pathways rhythm by 20 times its normal rate. MLD has a soothing, pain reducing effect and supports an improvement to the immune system.

Treatment for Lymphedema MLD/CDT therapy is ultimately focused on reduction of excess fluid, or edema. Most commonly in a limb, MLD/CDT works to reduce oedematous limb volume, reduce progression of edema, and limit the incidence of infections. It can prevent, or improve upon, skin health changes caused by advanced edema.

Combined Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is an integral part of the treatment for lymphedema. It integrates elements of skin care, manual lymphatic drainage treatment, compression bandaging, exercise and use of compressive elastic garments.

MLD/CDT is a treatment used in some post cancer surgery situations. Breast cancer patients, whose surgery involve lymph node removal in the armpit, have potential to develop lymphedema. This can occur also in the legs, or other areas, where lymph nodes have been removed. Symptoms of swelling can occur immediately, weeks, months or even years after surgery. MLD/CDT assist to reduce swelling/edemas and the associated complications.

Other Indications: As MLD assists in the drainage of the lymphatic fluid, or interstitial fluid, level in the tissues, there are many other applications for the technique. Edema or swelling from traumas, surgeries, bruising, venous insufficiency, joint inflammation/injury, concussion, and post surgery swelling are to name a few.

Indications for Manual Lymph Drainage:

• Primary/Secondary Lymphedema
• Post chemotherapy/radiotherapy treatment
• Pre and post surgery to promote tissue health and healing Varicose Veins/chronic venous insufficiency
• Post surgical swelling
• Lipedema
• Palliative care, symptomatic relief
• Hematomas/bruising
• Soft tissue traumas/burns/scars
• Concussion
• Post TIA/stroke
• Chronic sinusitis
• Tinnitus
• Meniere’s disease
• Migraines
• Acne/rosacea
• Multiple sclerosis 


Despite the great number of applications for MLD, there are a number of conditions which are contraindicated for this therapy:

• Any metastatic or systemic malignant condition
• Acute inflammation/infection
• Acute thrombosis
• Cardiac insufficiency
• Acute allergy


BC Lymphedema Association www.bclymph.org
Dr. Vodder International School www.vodderschool.com
Canadian Lymphedema Framework www.canadalymph.ca
Lymphedema Management www.lymphedemablog.com
Manual Lymphatic Drainage for Breast Cancer www.breastcancer.org/treatment/lymphedema/treatments/mld