Post-Op Recovery

Lymphatic Drainage decreases swelling and reduces pain, promotes normal range of motion, inhibits fibrosis & scar formation, and reduces overall recovery and healing time.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a specialized massage technique recommended post-surgery to reduce the overall recovery and healing period. During a surgical procedure, the lymphatic fluids build up and can pool which results in swelling. Receiving MLD helps to move the fluid into the lymphatic system and out of the body via the cardiovascular system to the kidneys etc. This technique works well and has shown positive results for post-surgery recovery. It is recommended patients receive at least 10-15 MLD sessions for the best possible results.

When considering surgery, the recovery process can be a deciding factor. Recovery often takes 8 weeks or more depending on the surgery. MLD can reduce your overall healing and recovery time. Expected results include:

  • Relieves swelling
  • Rids body of toxins and waste
  • Reduces pain
  • Promotes restful sleep
  • Promotes normal range of motion (ROM)
  • Inhibits fibrosis and scar formation

Plan ahead. It will require multiple sessions throughout your recovery time as you may experience different conditions.
Apart from swelling, some patients will experience lumpiness or hardness in the areas affected by liposuction, which is normal for most patients after surgery. The lumpiness or hardness is caused by inflammation and trauma from the surgical instrument used under the skin to extract the fatty tissue. The tunnels and channels which are created by the surgical instrument will fill with fluid and become swollen with both fluid and left-over fat. This fluid and left-over fat begins to harden between one week and three weeks after surgery. MLD will help to remove the fluid and fat, reducing the swelling and lumps returning the area to its’ start of smooth and pliable. It also helps eliminate bruising caused by the surgery. Without MLD, there is a risk that the swelling and inflammation could turn into fibrosis, which is a permanent hardening of the area. MLD ensures you’ll achieve the best results possible from the surgery.

Lymphatic Drainage PRE-OP and POST-OP

Schedule a PRE-OP Lymphatic Massage session.
Prepare your body for surgery! Have at least one MLD session a couple of days prior to your surgery to clear the lymph nodes and ready the lymphatic system for the influx of fluid which naturally happens with surgery. This too will impact your healing and recovery. It is important to allow your body’s natural inflammation response to take place directly after surgery. A pre-op MLD session with help with your body’s initial response.

Schedule POST-OP sessions ahead of time.
Planning your sessions ahead of time will help calm you and give you a peace of mind when contemplating your recovery period. If approved by your doctor, you can receive your first MLD session 48 hours after surgery. It is important to have 2-3 sessions your first week of recovery to get the swelling down.

How will MLD make me feel?
MLD should never be painful and only performed by a certified Lymphatic Therapist. Gentle, circular movements pull the fluid along. Work begins distal from surgery site, not directly on in the first sessions. The pressure used is not more than the weight of two nickels on the skin. Due to the gentle rhythmic nature of MLD, the nervous system is also affected by addressing pain and allowing a calming and soothing response making you sleepy or to fall asleep.

Lymphatic drainage can leave you feeling exhausted. You may want to have a lie down, or at the very least, an undemanding schedule for the rest of the day. Give your body time to ease back into activity. Lymphatic drainage may also leave you really thirsty. Hydrating before and after is essential.

What my clients say about post-op recovery with MLD:

  • lessens discomfort caused by swelling
  • can move more easily
  • eliminates hardness or lumps
  • clears up bruising quicker than normal
  • swelling goes down faster
  • can sleep better

Things to know when looking for a Lymphatic Therapist:

Lymphatic Massage is a popular term for “Manual Lymphatic Drainage” or MLD.

True Lymphatic Massage requires ADVANCED training.
Check their credentials! Your massage therapist should be certified in lymphatic drainage, not simply regular massage. This is not a Swedish massage. It is an advanced technique focused on moving lymph through the lymphatic system. There is much talk on Plastic Surgery forums about the importance of getting a lymphatic massage after surgery, but almost no one talks about the qualifications of who is doing the massage. It makes a world of difference in your experience, so be sure to do your research before booking your appointment.

TRUE Lymphatic Massage should never be painful. Ever.
The technique is a gentle, circular stretching of the skin creating a pressure on phase and a pressure off phase mimicking the body’s natural lymph flow. The gentle rhythmic nature affects the nervous system by addressing pain and allowing a calming and soothing response.

BUDGET for your post-op care.
Your post-surgery care can make all the difference in your recovery. Budget. You will be glad you did.

Recommended: Increase normal water intake to help the lymphatic detoxing process

Discounts increase with each series of sessions, which saves you more money. If able, I suggest an 8 week plan to get you through the worst of it, including a pre-op MLD session. After surgery, I recommend 3 sessions the first week, 2 sessions for the next couple of weeks, then 1 session a week after that until your recovery period is complete.

I’ve included examples of how to incorporate MLD sessions into your recovery time for optimal results. (varies on budget & availability – yours and mine)

10 Sessions
Prior to Surgery – 1 session
Week 1 – 3 sessions
Week 2 – 2 sessions
Week 3 – 2 sessions
Week 4 – 1 session
Week 5 – 1 session

12 Sessions
Prior to Surgery – 1 session
Week 1 – 3 sessions
Week 2 – 2 sessions
Week 3 – 2 sessions
Week 4 – 2 sessions
Week 5 – 1 session
Week 6 – 1 session
Week 7 – 1 session

For less invasive procedures, I would suggest 3 or 6 session series:

6 Sessions
Prior to procedure – 1 session
Week 1 – 2 sessions
Week 2 – 2 sessions
Week 3 – 1 session