Q&A with Kaitlyn Wengler, Registered Massage Therapist

Q1: Kaitlyn, what exactly is Manual Lymphatic Drainage and who can it help?

Manual Lymph Drainage (also known as MLD) is a very gentle manual technique that is used to help drain the excess fluid from the body and improve the overall function of the lymphatic system.  As the lymphatic system is our “cleaning system” of the body, it is very important to maintain a healthy lymphatic and immune system. When MLD is applied to a patient whose lymphatic system may be sluggish or compromised, it can have a great effect on the body.

Patients who have benefitted from MLD treatments include:

  • Lymphedema
  • Postsurgical edema
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Cosmetic disorders: rosacea, scars, stretch marks
  • Orthopedic/surgical trauma- related disorders: whiplash, burns, surgery on large joints
  • Lactation disorders
  • Breast pain/discomfort
  • Neurological disorders: stroke, multiple sclerosis, Down syndrome
  • Burn-out Syndrome/ stress

Q2: Can you tell us a little bit about the style of manual lymph drainage you have been studying?

Unlike a deep tissue massage or a traditional Swedish massage, manual lymph drainage is applied with very light pressure. The lymph vessels are quite close to the surface of the skin so for the treatment to effect the lymph vessels and promote drainage, we must use light pressure. MLD practitioners use specific slow rhythmic techniques by stretching and pumping the skin in the direction of the lymph flow. All MLD techniques are based on scientific principles that have been proven to encourage lymph flow, requiring the correct amount of pressure, direction and speed to bring about the intended effect on the lymphatic system.

Additionally, for the treatment to be successful this therapy must be applied to bare skin and no oils or lotions can be used.

All manual lymph drainage treatments begin with a pre-treatment on the neck, followed by the areas of body needing to be drained.

Q3: How does a lymphatic drainage session feel and how is it different from a regular massage?

As discussed previously, manual lymph drainage is a gentle and non-invasive form of massage. While lying on the treatment table, the patient will slowly begin to feel the relaxing effect of MLD.  This therapy has a calming effect to the nervous system because of its repetitive techniques and it also brings an analgesic effect so it’s fantastic for helping with pain relief. While receiving the treatment, a patient may feel tingling/dragging sensations underneath the skin, decreased swelling/puffiness, bloating, increased tiredness, lighter, decreased pain and clearer eyes.

It should be noted that the benefits of MLD continues well after the treatment is over and therefore some patients may not notice the benefits until after 2-3 treatments.

Q4: What is your favourite thing about this new therapy? 

From improving the overall function of your lymphatic system, to helping with chronic migraines to sports injuries (sprains and strains) and breast tenderness, MLD can be applied to have a great outcome for all patients.  I can remember my first manual lymph drainage treatment very clearly and being a little skeptical at the start. It wasn’t until I got off the treatment table that I felt so much lighter and balanced, and I can recall waking up the next morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. It’s amazing how fine touch and movement can make such an improvement on your body.