What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a disorder of the lymphatic system that causes a person to develop swollen, heavy legs and arms. Lymphatic cancer, radiation therapy and breast cancer treatment are the most common causes of lymphedema. It is important for individuals suffering from this condition to manage it so that their quality of life does not get affected. There are standard treatments such as compression garments, self-massaging and draining that are effective in managing swelling, which can be costly at times. At the same time, there are ways to manage lymphedema more inexpensively by applying simple principles that can offer great relief.

What are the reasons for lymphedema?

In many cases, minor and/or major lymphatic vessels are disrupted by surgery, injury, radiotherapy or infection.

As a result of the damage to the lymphatic system, the remaining vessels are no longer capable of draining the fluid accumulating in tissue, and lymphedema develops.

The most common cause for secondary lymphedema in the Western world is cancer surgery involving removal and/or radiotherapy of the lymph nodes.

Any vascular surgery like vein ablation can cause secondary lymphedema as well. 

Sometimes edema does not occur immediately after cancer treatment, but several months or even years later, despite the necessary precautions being taken; a medical specialist should be consulted in such cases to rule out the growth of any new tumors.

Symptoms of Lymphedema ?

One of the common symptoms of lymphedema is swelling of the arm, leg, trunk or any body part. Swelling can stay only for a short time and it will disappear without any treatment then return again. When swelling comes and goes away, that might be the beginning of chronic lymphedema. Sooner you address lymphedema management, faster you will see results. 

Some of the common symptoms are as follow 

Heaviness on limbs

Loss of flexibility in hand, wrist or ankle

Pitting edema( Swelling in which imprint remains after light touch )

Treatments for Lymphedema 

Compression Bandages and Garments : Helps to manage lymphedema. Compression bandages help to maintain lymphedema while you are using it. 

Exercises: Exercises are very important to manage lymphedema, muscle contraction moves lymph fluid and helps to regulate fluid. Exercises have to be in the proper sequence to see the best result. 

Skin Care : Proper skin care should be the routine for lymphedema patients, it’s easy to get dry skin and dry skin can lead to cellulitis so routine skin care helps to reduce risk of infection.

Healthy Diets : Healthy weight helps to reduce risk of lymphedema, there is no specific diet that you have to follow but managing your weight helps to reduce risk of lymphedema.

Manual Drainage techniques :Manual drainage is the most effective technique to reduce lymphedema, there are many techniques available to manage lymphatic drainage, you want to make sure physical therapists are certified and experienced in manual drainage, not all therapists are expert in manual drainage. In manual drainage its proper sequence and protocol that need to be followed for best result. 

Manual drainage  after cosmetic surgeries:

Brazilian Butt Lift (BBL)

Tummy Tuck/Abdominoplasty


Fat Transfer

Arm/Leg Lift


Breast Implant

Chin Liposuction

Mastectomy/Breast Reconstruction

Research: Below is a study done by the NIH (National Institutes of Health) showing the benefits of post liposuction MLD.



Download your free ebook on 5 steps to manage lymphedema.

What will you learn from the book?

You will know best daily routine to follow up 

Self massage techniques 

What wraps and bandages  are best for you 

Steps for your routine skin care 


Lymphatic Drainage Massage Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is lymph, lymph node and lymphatic system?

A lymph is  a clear fluid contained in the lymph nodes that helps filter proteins, waste, and metabolizes cells in the body.

The lymph nodes remove the waste and circulate clean lymph fluid through the body. Lymph nodes contain white blood cells called lymphocytes.There are between 600 and 700 lymph nodes in the body.

The lymphatic system is the system of the body that helps maintain fluid levels in the body, circulate lymph fluid, fight off infection, and helps circulate blood.

The lymphatic system is a part of the healing process, and helps remove toxins from the body under periods of stress.

2. What is MLD and what type of MLD techniques are used at Sure cure?


Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD is a rare hereditary condition that is characterized by the buildup of fat molecules known as sulfatides.  At Sure Cure, we have Manual Lymph Drainage certified physical therapist and massage therapists. We follow Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage techniques which is considered gold standard in Lymphatic drainage.

3. What are the symptoms of poor lymphatic drainage?

Here are the major symptoms of poor lymphatic drainage:

  • Swelling in arms and legs
  • Changes in the condition of the skin
  • Changes in the skin colour
  • Blisters
  • Fluid leaking

4. What are some conditions that can benefit from Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage can be used to address a variety of conditions, including:

Tummy tuck
Cosmetic surgery/procedure
Brazilian butt lift (BBL)
Mommy makeover
Rheumatoid arthritis
Joint replacement
Preeclampsia during pregnancy
Postoperative swelling and discomfort
Muscle aches and pains

5. How soon after my procedure can MLD begin?

It can begin within 24 hours. Most people wait until they can comfortably drive themselves to appointments. 

6. It has been over a month since I had my procedure. Is it too late to begin MLD?

No. The healing process after these types of procedures is several months. If it has been over a month since your procedure you can still get the smoothing benefits of MLD. If it has been over 6 months since your procedure and you are still feeling lumps and hardness you should contact your doctor to make sure you have not developed fibrosis or a seroma.

7. How long does Lymphatic Drainage take to work?

After the massage, the flow rate will be approximately 100 to 120 bpm which gradually lowers over the following 48 hours.

8. What helps Lymphatic Drainage after surgery?

Wearing compression garments and the MLD itself works wonders after surgery.

9. Who should not get a Lymphatic Massage?

People struggling with acute inflammation, malignant tumors, thrombosis, and heart problems should not get a lymphatic massage. Even if you don’t have any of these conditions, it is good to ask your doctor before you proceed.

10. Do I need a prescription for MLD?

No. Although many doctors recommend MLD, it is also perfectly fine to self-refer.When its done under physical therapy, insurance companies need the prescription for reimbursement.

11. Why do I need Lymphatic Drainage Therapy after my liposuction, BBL, Smart-lipo, Cool Sculpting, or other cosmetic surgery procedure? 

You can observe a hardness or lumpiness in the liposuction-affected areas. Right after your operation, this is typical. Smart-lipo, or Cool Sculpting, especially in the abdominal area, and much more so if combined with other body shaping procedures (such fat injections for what is popularly known as the Brazilian Butt Lift). This post-surgical lymphedema is brought on by swelling and trauma brought on by the cannula’s (the device used to remove fat) movement under the skin. The cannula creates channels that might fill with fluid and cause the tissue to swell. By gently pushing the fluid back into the lymph vessels, manual lymph massage aids in the movement of the fluid. Discomfort can be lessened by reducing the swelling. Without lymph massage (LDT or MLD), the inflammation may progress into fibrosis, which causes the tissue to permanently stiffen, or a seroma, which is a pocket of serum. After liposuction or other plastic surgery treatments, many surgeons recommend lymph drainage therapy to ensure that their patients obtain the best outcomes possible.

 12. Is Lymphatic Drainage Therapy a deep massage?

No, despite the fact that it could seem as though a deep massage would help to lessen the hardness after liposuction, it would rather increase circulation to the treated areas, making it more difficult to drain lymph fluid. MLD is the most effective approach to lessen swelling and bruising, despite being extremely light effort. It is founded on scientific understanding of the Lymphatic System’s architecture and physiology. It is a myth that heat and intense massage can hasten the healing process after liposuction. There are two commonly used techniques for lymph drainage therapy used in hospitals and clinics around the globe: the Vodder Method and the Chikly Technique. Therefore, despite the fact that a deep massage Swedish or therapeutic may seem like it would be helpful, it is not. 

13. Does MLD help get rid of bruising?

Yes! One of the better uses for MLD is that. Old red blood cells and cellular waste build up in the tissue to cause bruises. By clearing the extracellular spaces where these compounds are held, lymph drainage therapy significantly shortens the time it takes for bruises to heal.

14. Will you re-open my sutures to drain fluid? Will it be painful?

A new style of ” Lymphatic Massage” has surged in the last few years where fluid is pushed downwards instead of working with the flow of the lymphatic.  Some “Lymphatic Massages” reopen the surgical holes and push plasma and blood out of those holes. They are not moving Lymph. And yet, they still call this Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). It is NOT.  They are doing DEEP TISSUE not Manual Lymph Drainage. DEEP TISSUE crushes the lymphatic system and after surgery will cause more damage, bruising and swelling.  This is also another way Seromas are created. Deep Tissue is CONTRAINDICATED after surgery. Lymphatic Drainage is meant to be light work because the lymph system is right underneath the skin.  When it is done correctly it is gentle, not painful, and soothing.

When your tissue is ready, then we can begin to incorporate myofascial and scar tissue work in the areas that the scar tissue is starting to bind.