MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) is a form of gentle massage that helps to move lymph fluid out of the adipose and other tissues, unclog lymphatic pathways and nodes, and encourage normal lymphatic vessel pumping. MLD is known to reduce pain and capillary fragility in lipedema and Dercum’s disease and has been used to treat Madelung’s disease and swelling associated with familial multiple lipomatosis. It involves consistent, specific pressure, less than 9 ounces per square inch, and a rhythmic circular motion to stimulate lymph drainage. Performing MLD on oneself is called “self-MLD”.
During a session, your therapist will softly rub, stroke, tap or push the skin in the direction that follows your body’s lymphatic system. Although there have been no studies done on MLD therapy and lipedema, some patients who have undergone this treatment report reductions in both swelling and pain.
MLD practitioners may be physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists or massage therapists. Two popular methods of MLD in the U.S. are Vodder and Leduc.
To find someone in your area, speak with your physician or therapist for recommendations, or consult MLD training schools and LANA’s directory.