There have been international research projects that have proven MLD treatment both before and after a surgery can help reduce pain, swelling, and the risk of infection. By performing MLD treatments (usually 3 sessions) before a surgery the lymphatic system is flushed. The lymphatic system is part garbage disposal and part transportation system. By flushing the system there is a decrease in biological waste lingering in the interstitial environment.
By performing MLD the therapist will stimulate the lymph nodes and the lymphatic vessels to increase their production and push the fluid through the system my creating a negative pressure environment. In other words, the therapist provides a very light massage.
The best time to start MLD after a surgery or an injury is immediately after the procedure. Personally, I have started post plastic MLD while the patient was still in the recovery room. When the body is injured, the local lymphatic vessels will contract as part of a safety mechanism to reduce the spread of infection. In addition, the cells create more biological waste with increased metabolism. Finally, the third component is the immune system stimulate the cells to secrete cytotoxic and recruit more T-cells and B-cells. All three of these component lead to an increase in swelling and pain.
When a therapist performs MLD, they open the pathways and allow the fluid to be moved out of the area. This leads to less cytotoxins and a smaller number of T-cells and B-cells. By preventing the swelling or by minimizing the edema, there is less pain. The pain could be triggered by parts of the immune system, the increased internal pressure, or simply the surgical site.
Post treatments vary based on the persons lymphatic system, the type of surgery, the pain medications, and the quickness of receiving MLD. It is suggested that a person has at least four-post treatments within 2 weeks of the surgery.