What is lymphatic massage?
Lymphatic massage, also called lymphatic drainage or manual lymph drainage, is a technique developed in Germany for treatment of lymphedema, an accumulation of fluid that can occur after lymph nodes are removed during surgery, most often a mastectomy for breast cancer. Lymphedema can also be present at birth or develop at puberty or during adulthood. This type, known as primary lymphedema, can affect as many as four limbs and/or other parts of the body. The cause is unknown. Lymphatic drainage massage for conditions other than lymphedema is not medically recommended, although it may be promoted by some therapists.
What conditions is lymphatic therapy used for?
My clients come to me for various reasons.
ONCOLOGY - Removal of lymph nodes increase chances of lymphedema to limb. Re-routing the lymph to be picked up by other lymph nodes is necessary to keep the fluid flowing.
PRE/POST SURGERY - This clears the cellular debris, bacteria, and other foreign matter from the area. It decreases the risk of infection pre-surgery and increases the healing time post-surgery.
LYMPHATIC MASSAGE - Decrease fluid retention. Increase immunity. Feel lighter. Move better.
What should one expect on a visit to a practitioner of lymphatic therapy?
A lymphatic massage session for women who develop lymphedema after surgery for breast cancer starts with light massage on the surface of the skin of the neck. The therapist gently rubs, strokes, taps or pushes the skin in directions that follow the structure of the lymphatic system so that accumulated lymph fluid can drain through proper channels. Lymphatic drainage is very gentle, is not painful and doesn’t have a stimulating effect. Each session lasts from 45 to 60 minutes, and therapy usually is performed once a day four or five times a week for two to four weeks. One study showed that the greatest reduction in swelling from lymphedema occurs in the first week of treatment and stabilizes during the second week.
Are there any side effects or conditions where lymphatic therapy should be avoided?
The National Lymphedema Network lists four circumstances under which lymphatic massage or drainage should be avoided:
When patients who have developed lymphedema after surgery experience a sudden, marked increase in localized swelling. Under these circumstances, patients are advised to stop treatment and to see their physicians for evaluation as soon as possible.
Patients with a sudden onset of lymphangitis (an infection) should immediately discontinue treatment until the infection is treated and completely clears up. Patients who are at increased risk for blood clotting should be tested to rule out deep-venous thrombosis before being treated. During treatment, these patients should be followed closely, and testing should be performed on a regular basis.
Patients who have congestive heart failure must be monitored closely to avoid moving too much fluid too quickly, which could put a strain on the heart.
When pain is present, treatment should be discontinued until the underlying cause has been determined and the pain subsides.
Who is Mitzi Love?
This is where you will detail who you are, your training, your experience and your desire to help through lymphatic therapy.