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Manual Lymphatic Drainage is a specialised form of massage which uses light, rhythmical, very precise hand movements following the predetermined lymphatic pathway through lymph nodes in the body retraining the lymph to make it flow faster and efficiently. MLD requires a degree of skill due to its complexity in redirecting lymph flow as well as understanding of the anatomy of the lymphatic and venous system.

MLD is an effective way to greatly minimise side effects from surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The side effects of treatment include soft tissue fibrosis, scar tissue fibrosis, oedema, reduced joint range of motion, slowed healing and pain. The massage works with the skin to influence the direction and speed of venous and lymphatic flow. In damaged lymph nodes, MLD redirects the lymphatic flow to the good functioning lymph nodes helping in decongesting body tissues. The lymphatic system interacts with the urinary and venous system getting rid of toxic materials (lymph obligatory load) from the body. MLD uses the lymphatic system to cleanse the body, reduce and ease swelling and strengthen the immune system by stimulating the flow of lymph.

Lymphoedema is an accumulation of fluid in the interstitial space (fluid filled areas that surround the cells of a given tissue). This is caused by a damaged lymphatic vessel system unable to ensure adequate drainage of fluid resulting in congestion.

Following the removal of lymph nodes and radiation therapy, secondary lymphoedema or swelling of the arm or leg affects about 25% of cancer patients.

MLD therapists treat lymphoedema using Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT); an intensive treatment that combines Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Deep Oscillation Therapy, compression garments, exercise and skin care. The therapist uses a range of specialised and gentle rhythmic pumping techniques or the Deep Oscillation device heads to move the excess fluid into an area with a working lymph vessel system. This stimulates the lymphatic vessels and helps move excess fluid away from the swollen area so that it can drain away normally.

The MLD treatment is followed by the fitting of compression garments, to reduce limb size. The therapist will also discuss how to minimise the risk of infection by washing and moisturising the skin and the importance of regular gentle exercise to encourage efficient lymph flow.

Included or instead of the MLD your practitioner may choose to use Deep Oscillation therapy which has been proven to provide superior results.

Deep Oscillation Therapy is used in The London Breast Clinic for post-operative treatment and management of swelling, scars, seroma, lymphoedema of the breast, trunk, arm and or hand. The gentle, yet effective, electrostatic impulses are delivered through gloved hands or applicators and are clinically proven to permeate an 8cm depth, impacting all tissue layers; including the connective tissue.

Clinically proven effects and benefits are:

  • Anti- Fibrotic, Anti- Inflammatory, Detoxifying effect
  • Improvement of muscle tone, mobility, tissue quality, and trophicity
  • Reduction in bruising, seroma, haematoma, oedema, pain, skin irritation and scarring
  • Relaxation of muscles and stimulation of a dynamic wound healing.

The Chartered Breast Care and Lymphoedema Physiotherapist , Cathrine Gwitirwa based here at The London Breast Clinic, has over  20 years of experience having worked within an NHS and HCA private healthcare specialist oncology and breast unit for over 7 years. All appointments are to go through the main reception. Please ask your Consultant or Nurse specialist to refer you.

Telephone: 020 7563 1234

Clinics are held every Monday afternoon 1pm- 6pm and Friday afternoon and appointments are also available within a short period of time.

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