This drainage is a special 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 in an area where the lymphatic system is working normally.
For this, the person who massages first erases the area you want for the fluid to drain. It may seem strange to have to massage your chest and neck if you have lymphedema in your arm. But this means that the fluid has a place to drain when you apply a massage to your arm.
Usually, you should go to bed for the massage. But if you have lymphedema in the head and neck, you have to sit down.
When you have the massage you exert a 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 3 times a week, for 3 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 special 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 much the swelling is going down. Once the swelling 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. It is necessary for a massage specialist to 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.
Keep in mind that it is not massaging the area where you have inflammation. The massage of the swollen area is difficult to do. He will show you how to massage the surrounding areas and ask questions if something is unclear.
The massage can be twice a day, for about 20 minutes each time. Just apply light pressure, as your lymphedema specialist taught you.
When you should not have a massage?
There are some situations in which you should not have a massage or do 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.