What is it?

MLD (Manual Lymphatic Drainage) is a gentle targeted technique which specifically helps drain lymphatic fluid.

MLD is a very gentle treatment that subtly moves and stretches the skin activating the underlying initial lymphatics and stimulating the movement of lymphatic fluid through a network of vessels and nodes in your lymphatic system. This improves the free flow and removal of waste products from your body, and increases delivery of substances vital to your immunity; promoting healthy fluid balance and healing with the natural defence mechanisms [3-4].

MLD is vitally important as a therapeutic preventative or remedial treatment before and after surgery such as plastic surgery, vaser liposuction or orthopaedic procedures.  MLD forms part of Complete Decongestive Treatment (CDT) for Lymphoedema [1-5], and helps boost the immune system through detoxification.

MLD can be safely used for patients who have Lymphoedema secondary to cancer treatment such as surgery or radiotherapy. MLD has a hosts many potential benefits both physically helping compromised immune and lymphatic system and psychologically to optimise positive outcomes [6-7]. Whatever your reason for requiring MLD you can feel reassured and confident that your best interest is our central focus at Colchester Holistic Health Clinic.

As a Specialist Physiotherapist and Clinical Lymphoedema Therapist with a wealth of experience in primary and secondary Lymphoedema, as well as Lipodema and post-surgical oedema from plastic or orthopaedic surgery treatments and complex post-trauma odema. Your treatment will be tailored to suit your individual needs and requirements, and you can relax in safe professional hands that care about your health and comfort.


  • MLD can be a very important therapy in a variety of conditions. Both physically helping compromised immune and lymphatic system and psychologically to optimise positive outcomes.
  • Pre and Post Surgery - Most reputable surgeons and doctors recommend soothing MLD pre and post surgical procedure’s to optimise healing and recovery. MLD gently alleviates swelling and bruising while accelerating the body’s healing processes, promoting tissue regeneration, reducing scar tissue and decreasing the risk of hardening/fibrosis and helping speed your recovery [8].
  • Complete Decongestive Treatment (CDT) for Lymphoedema [1-3]- MLD reduces the swelling, modifies disease, improves mobility and quality of life through expert guidance and hands-on treatment [16-17]. Whilst MLD should not be used as a stand-alone lymphoedema treatment it has far reaching benefits on patient’s well-being and empowerment. MLD can be safely used for patients who have Lymphoedema secondary to cancer treatment such as surgery or radiotherapy.
  • Detoxification - MLD stimulates your body’s one way lymphatic drainage system, as a non-invasive waste removal to cleanse toxins and purify.
  • Boosting Immunity - MLD can increase your natural defence mechanisms. Addressing symptoms of Chronic Fatigue/ME, fibromyalgia and glandular fever [11].
  • Reduction in symptoms from Auto-Immune disorders - MLD helps to restore proper functioning of your body’s immunological responses helping relieve symptoms of auto-immune diseases/disorders including [9]; Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s Disease, Scleroderma, Lupus, Lyme Disease, Psoriasis, Asthma and Eczema
  • Improving the effects of Sinus Problems, Migraines and Headaches [10]
  • Reducing side effects of pregnancy and menstrual problems - MLD can safely reduce your swollen ankles and excess fluid, while helping balance hormones. Also useful for ladies with menstrual problems, menopause and hot flushes
  • Improves symptoms of Lipoedema - MLD soothes and reduces sensitivity, whilst helping shaping of your tissue in your limbs [13]
  • Resolution of Haematoma/Bruises, Scars and Burns, and pain relief
  • Relieving tension and stress - MLD has a deeply relaxing and calming effect on the nervous system, helping to gently relieve stress and tension [14]

What to expect

Following a complete assessment and detailed history, patients will be physically examined and measured. Patients will be asked to remove their outer garments, and comfortably position themselves on the couch. The gentle and rhythmic massage treatment makes direct contact with skin, working proximal to distal and takes approximately 60 minutes depending on the areas being treated. An intensive course will be 3 to 5 times a week, lasting for approximately 3 – 4 weeks. However, some patients require monthly maintenance appointments. Each patient is an individual, so we will tailor your treatment to suit your individual needs and requirements. We support all our patients with a full medical assessment and home exercise programme that activates lymphatic drainage on a daily basis.

Book an appointment

If you’re interested in any of our Manual Lymphatic Drainage services, please get in touch to book or find out more.


There are several well-recognised forms of Medical Lymphatic Drainage – Vodder (developed in the 1930s), Földi (1960s), Leduc (1960s) Casley-Smith (1970s) and FG (2014) (Foldi 2003). All schools of MLD follow the same principles and are accepted worldwide as key to the treatment and management of Lymphoedema [15]

Fill & FlushUK
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MLD UK requires proof of recognised training, insurance and continuous professional development to maintain highest standards of care. Lymphatic Therapists must be able to fully assess and recognise contra-indications and medical implications before application.

1. Macmillian (2016). Lymphatic Drainage. [Online] [Accessed 030120] Available from: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/lymphoedema/lymphatic-drainage.html

2. Royal Marsden (2015) Manual Lymphatic Drainage [Online] [Accessed 030120] Available from: https://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/your-care/living-and-beyond-cancer/lymphoedema/lymphatic-drainage

3. Cancer Research (2019) MLD [Online] [Accessed 030120] Available from: https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/coping/physically/lymphoedema-and-cancer/treating/massage-manual-lymphatic-drainage/fluoroscopy-guided

4. Gordon, K. and Mortimer, P.S., 2018. Decongestive lymphatic therapy. In Lymphedema (pp. 413-429). Springer, Cham.

5. NHS Choices Information (2019) Lymphoedema – Treatment [Online] [Accessed 030120] Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/lymphoedema/

6. Badger C, Preston N, andSeers K (2004). Physical therapies for reducing and controlling lymphoedema of the limbs. Cochrane Database Systematic Review. 18(4): CD003141. Review

7. Macmillan (2018) Lymphoedema. [Online] [Accessed 030120] Available from:https://www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/coping/side-effects-and-symptoms/lymphoedema/what-is-lymphoedema.html

8. Achen, M., YUAN, Y., Arcucci, V. and Levy, S., 2019. Modulation of Immunity by Lymphatic Dysfunction in Lymphedema. Frontiers in immunology, 10, p.76.

9. Soos, J.M., Schiffenbauer, J. and Johnson, H.M., University of Florida, 2000. Method for treatment of autoimmune diseases. U.S. Patent 6,060,450.

10. Weller, R.O. and Carare, R.O., 2018. Lymphatic Drainage of the CNS and Its Role in Neuroinflammation and Neurodegenerative Disease. In Neuroinflammation (pp. 601-617). Academic Press.

11. Shwartz, N., Somaraju, M., Li, T., Feng, Z., Shipman, W. and Lu, T.T., 2019. Lymphatic function in autoimmune diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, 10, p.519.

12. Giacalone G, Belgrado JP, Bourgeois P, Bracale P, Roh N and Moraine JJ (2011). A New Dynamic Imaging Tool to Study Lymphoedema and Associated Treatments. The European Journal of Lymphology. Vol XXII – Nr 62

13. De Vrieze, T., Vos, L., Gebruers, N., Tjalma, W.A., Thomis, S., Neven, P., Nevelsteen, I., De Groef, A., Vandermeeren, L., Belgrado, J.P. and Devoogdt, N., 2018. Protocol of a randomised controlled trial regarding the effectiveness of fluoroscopy-guided manual lymph drainage for the treatment of breast cancer-related lymphoedema (EFforT-BCRL trial). European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 221, pp.177-188.
14. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (2012) Lymphoedema: http://www.csp.org.uk/publications/physiotherapy-works-lymphoedema (accessed 121103)
15. Deng, J., Sinard, R.J. and Murphy, B., 2019. Patient experience of head and neck Lymphedema therapy: a qualitative study. Supportive Care in Cancer, 27(5), pp.1811-1823.

16. St Georges – Centre of Excellence UK (2020). Lymphoedema Department [Online] [Accessed 14/07/2015] Available from:https://www.stgeorges.nhs.uk/service/lymphoedema/

17. International Lymphoedema Framework (ILF) (2019) Annual Report June 2019 [Online] [Accessed 030120] Available from: https://www.lympho.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/National-Lymphoedema-Frameworks_Compilation-of-annual-reports-2018-2019_June-2019_update-26062019.pdf