Lymphatic Massage (Manual Lymph Drainage, or MLD) works directly with your body's lymphatic system; a vast and intricate network of vessels and nodes which are responsible for circulating fluid through the body, aiding in your body's natural detoxifying abilities, and plays an integral role in a healthy immune system.
A lymphatic session is very gentle, rhythmic, and repetitive. Much like a gentle ocean wave repeatedly breaking on the shore, lymphatic massage is mainly practiced on the surface of the skin, encouraging the surface lymph vessels to increase their natural "pumping" mechanism, which increases all lymph vessel function. Some of the work is done on the deeper structures, such as lymphnodes, but this work is also gentle and never painful. The repetitive nature of this modality ensures that the vessels continue to gain momentum and flow. Think of your body as containing a vast system of creeks, rivers, and filtering facilities which need to keep flowing to function!
While anyone without serious heart or kidney issues can benefit from lymphatic massage, those with lymphedema (swelling of the lymphatic system) and lipedema (swelling in the fatty tissue) are the most common ailments which benefit from lymphatic massage.
The basic function of MLD is most widely used in the medical field as the best hands-on modality to help reduce swelling. Because the lymphatic system plays such a huge role in the immune system, regular lymphatic massage can also be a great way to ensure your immune system is working as best as it can. In addition, the lymphatic system is connected to kidney and liver function, so receiving regular lymphatic massage can also promote your body's natural detoxifying ability. Even if you are simply looking for basic well-being, Lymphatic massage is incredibly gentle, relaxing, and promotes overall health and wellness.
A note from Sarafina: for those with lymphedema and lipedema, MLD is only half of the equation to your fluid reduction. MLD must also be paired with compression wrapping or garments in order to de-congest the lymph system. While I do not practice wrapping, there are practitioners in the area who can help you find what you need and I am happy to help you find one. My practice of lymphatic massage is better for non-acute cases, or for those who are already using compression garments to help reduce or keep swelling at bay, and need to receive regular MLD to do so.