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What is MLD?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is an advanced therapy in which the practitioner uses a range of specialised and gentle rhythmic pumping techniques to move the skin in the direction of the lymph flow.

This stimulates the lymphatic vessels which carry substances vital to the defence of the body and removes waste products. The first visit will include a consultation during which the therapist will recommend the number and frequency of future sessions. Each session will last approximately one hour. Where appropriate the therapist will work in conjunction with your medical practitioner.

MLD must be carried out by a trained therapist as fluid can be pushed in the wrong direction, the consequences of which could be disastrous.

  • It helps to move fluid from a territory of little or no drainage due to lymphatic incapacity to a territory that is functioning properly by crossing the watershed
  • It reduces oedema and protein rich thickening of the tissues

MLD is often used in conjunction with multi layer bandaging and/or compression to reduce oedema.

  • Multi-layer bandaging is a specialist bandaging technique where we treat oedema using short stretch bandages and padding.
  • It is a high-compression bandaging system that incorporates elastic layers to achieve a sustained level of compression over time.
  • It is particularly useful post-operatively and in lymphoedema where extra compression is indicated.



Compression is one of the key treatment methods in managing lymphoedema.

  • It is worn to prevent the limb from getting bigger – it contains the swelling.
  • It helps the muscle to pump the lymph out of the limb.
  • It helps to prevent protein from sitting in the tissue and so reduces the chance of long term complications.
  • It should be worn every day.
  • You be measured regularly (at least once a year if your lymphoedema is stable) by someone correctly trained in compression measurements.
  • Compression garments are usually available on prescription from your GP, but can be bought privately if, for example, you would like a patterned garment.