What is the Manual Lymphatic Drainage and how it should be applied correctly

This drainage is a particular type of massage that reduces lymphedema swelling.

There are different types of manual lymphatic drainage, so someone who has been trained in one of these types should be the only one authorized to give these massages.

The goal of the massage is to move the fluid from the swollen area to an area where the lymphatic system is usually working.

The person who massages first erases the area you want for the fluid to drain. It may seem strange to massage your chest and neck if you have lymphedema in your arm. However, this means that the liquid has a place to drain when you apply a massage to your arm.

Usually, it would help if you went to bed for a massage. However, if you have lymphedema in the head and neck, you must sit down.

When you have the massage, you exert gentle pressure. It is not a deep massage. If it is too deep, it will not work since it flattens the small lymphatic vessels so that the fluid can not drain. The movements are slow and rhythmic, so the lymphatic vessels open.

You may have massage sessions every day from Monday to Friday, or three times a week, for three weeks. The number of treatments varies depending on the type and what you need. Your specialist will also take into account the amount of inflammation you have.


After the massage, the specialist can bandage the area. They use a unique bandage technique called a multilayer lymphedema bandage. If it is not possible to use bandages, it is possible to use a compression garment.

Your lymphedema specialist should regularly check how your treatment is working. It will be evaluated if the tissues are not growing and how the swelling is down. Once the bump stops, you will be given another compression garment.

Simple Lymphatic Drainage

Simple lymphatic drainage (DLS) means that you learn how to do the massage yourself. Sometimes it is called self-massage. A massage specialist must teach you how to do it. It will teach you only massage in areas where there is no lymphedema. This frees up space for the lymphatic fluid to drain into the inflamed area.

Remember that it is not massaging the area where you have inflammation. The massage of the swollen area is challenging to do. He will show you how to massage the surrounding areas and ask questions if something is unclear.

The massage can be done twice a day, for about 20 minutes. Just apply light pressure, as your lymphedema specialist taught you.

When should you not have a massage?

There are some situations where you should not have a massage or do a self-massage. Your lymphedema specialist will tell you if you can or can not. Always check with them if you are unsure and have any of the following problems:

  • An infection or inflammation in the inflamed area.
  • A blood clot
  • Heart problems.
  • Active cancer in the area.