Post-surgical manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a specialized therapeutic technique used to promote healing and reduce swelling and fluid buildup following surgery. It is often recommended for individuals who have undergone procedures such as plastic surgery, orthopedic surgery, gender affirming surgery, or cancer-related surgeries where lymph nodes have been removed or damaged. Here are some key considerations for post-surgical MLD:

  1. Timing: MLD is typically initiated after the acute post-operative phase, once surgical drains have been removed and any incisions have started to heal. The timing may vary depending on the type of surgery and the surgeon’s recommendations. Schedule this type of work if you are 0-6 months post-op.
  2. Gentle Techniques: Post-surgical MLD involves very gentle and light massage techniques. The therapist uses delicate strokes to stimulate lymphatic flow, reduce swelling, and prevent the buildup of excess fluids in the surgical area.
  3. Pain Management: MLD should not be painful. If you experience discomfort or pain during the session, inform your therapist immediately, as they can adjust their techniques accordingly.
  4. Gradual Progression: Post-surgical MLD sessions are typically spaced out over several weeks. The frequency and duration of treatment will depend on your specific surgery and individual needs. Expect a gradual improvement in swelling and discomfort with each session.
  5. Compression Garments: In some cases, your therapist may recommend the use of compression garments (such as compression sleeves or stockings) in conjunction with MLD to help manage swelling and support the lymphatic system. Follow your therapist’s instructions on when and how to wear these garments.
  6. Hydration: Staying adequately hydrated is essential to support the lymphatic system’s function. Drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins and promote the removal of excess fluid from the body.
  7. Rest and Recovery: Adequate rest is crucial for your body’s healing process. Listen to your body and avoid strenuous activities or heavy lifting during the initial stages of recovery.
  8. Monitoring: Pay close attention to any changes in your surgical site or any unusual symptoms, such as increased swelling, redness, pain, or fever. Contact your healthcare provider or therapist if you notice any concerning developments.
  9. Consistency: Consistency in attending MLD sessions and following your therapist’s recommendations is key to achieving the best results in terms of reducing post-operative swelling and discomfort.

Remember that post-surgical MLD is a valuable adjunct therapy designed to support your recovery after surgery. It should be part of a comprehensive post-operative care plan developed in consultation with your surgeon and healthcare team. By working closely with trained professionals and following their guidance, you can optimize your post-surgical healing and minimize potential complications.

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