Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) has been practiced in Europe since the 1930’s. Dr E Vodder of Denmark successfully found that specific hand movements on the skin cleared facial acne and catarrh. This pioneering work has encouraged practitioners though the years to study this field through research to develop and adapt the technique to effectively influence the Lymphatic System.

The Lymphatic System

The lymphatic system is an integral part of the body’s circulatory system. Like arteries and veins, the lymphatics are made up from a series of small and larger vessels. They are responsible for draining fluid, known as lymph, from the tissues back into the circulation. Lymph is a colourless fluid, which is responsible for transporting protein and waste material from the cells. Along its route it passes through a series of lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are situated throughout the system along the vessels and also in clusters in areas such as the neck, armpits and groin. The nodes act as small filter stations fighting infection with their antibody protection, thus gate-keeping the body’s immune system.

What are the benefits of MLD?

Primarily, those who suffer with problematic conditions related to the lymphatic system e.g. Lymphoedema will benefit most greatly. However, MLD can be applied to many different conditions and is also good as a preventative measure that can enhance your general well-being. It has a calming effect on the autonomic nervous system that leaves you deeply relaxed. Its main therapeutic effect is that of alleviating fluid congestion.

MLD can have a direct positive effect on the following conditions:

  • Lymphoedema
  • Truncal Swelling
  • Genital Oedema
  • Post-Operative Bruising
  • Traumatic Bruising
  • Painful Breasts
  • Pre-Menstrual Syndrome
  • Venous Insuffiency
  • Sinusitits
  • Arthritis
  • Leg Ulcers
  • Pregnancy Oedema
  • Acne • Rosacea
  • Constipation
  • Pain
  • Sports Injuries
  • Puffy Eyes
  • Non-infected Skin Disorders
  • General Well-Being
  • Part of a De-toxing Programme To name but a few… MLD is reported to be beneficial for over 60 medical Conditions.

What does MLD involve?

MLD is a specialised therapy which is designed to improve the function of the lymphatic system. Therefore, specific techniques using the hands follow the pathway of the lymphatic channels and lymph nodes, stimulating, massaging and draining fluid, proteins and waste products/toxins. MLD can be used as a stand-alone treatment for any one of the afore mentioned conditions, however, if you have Lymphoedema, other techniques maybe necessary to gain the best outcome of treatment for your condition. Each MLD treatment/session can last between 30 and 90 minutes.

How will treatments be arranged?

A thorough assessment of your general health will take place during your initial consultation. MLD is generally carried out over a number of sessions, initially in a block of treatments, then subsequently can be accessed at regular intervals to ‘top-up’ the initial benefits and also fit in with other management programmes. One-off stand alone treatments generally serve no real benefit, as the effects of MLD are cumulative. The number of treatments can be agreed prior to commencing a programme upon request, follow initial consultation. In some cases MLD will be carried out together is Multi-Layer Lymphoedema Bandaging (MLLB) to enhance the overall effects of treatment.

Which technique will be offered?

The Casley-Smith Technique is used and is a recognised School with MLD UK.

What is involved?

You will be taught a set of specific breathing techniques and you will be required to be undressed to you under-pants (covered with towels). You will be asked to lay both on your back and front if possible so the whole of the lymphatic system can be treated and worked upon. Following your treatment you will be required to drink a glass of water before leaving the centre.


There are a growing number of research papers now entering the scientific field, however they remain low in number. It is therefore an area which is often dismissed due to ‘lack of evidence’. This opinion is not one which is shared at Northern Lymphology Ltd and we are currently looking to add to the science with a number of Audits and Projects which highlight the benefit of the treatment. Until it is proven that this treatment is of no consequence or benefit to the lymphatic system, we will continue to use it for most of the people who attend our service as appropriate.