What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) massage?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage or MLD uses gentle, repetitive strokes to facilitate the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is responsible for moving fluid between the tissues and the blood stream and protects the body from infection and disease through the immune response system. The gentle movements of MLD massage stimulate the lymph vessels to contract, which allows more waste products, proteins and excess fluid to be removed from the body’s tissues and into the lymphatic system. It is a specialized massaged that is sometimes referred to as a ‘detox massage’. One of the defining aspects of the MLD technique is the superficial, very light application of pressure. Too much pressure will collapse the lymph vessels and restrict flow. The intention of this technique to is assist the lymphatic fluid through the body to the appropriate lymph nodes for filtration. With the lymphatic system lacking a pumping mechanism other than the movement of the body, the circulation of lymph fluid can become sluggish. This could lead to a variety of health issues.

What to expect during an MLD massage session?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage massage is done by using superficial, very light pressure and a gentle rhythmic pumping movement. The therapist follows the lymphatic pathways, pushing fluid towards the next lymph node station for filtration.

The movements are slow and tend to induce a deep relaxed state. Afterwards you may feel sleepy so it is best to plan low key activity after your session. You may have the urge to urinate more frequently from the cleansing effects. If abdominal massage was part of your session, you may feel the need to have a bowel movement.

Is MLD right for you?

MLD is great for the following pathologies:

Injuries (ie: sprains and strains)

  • Reduces swelling and bruising

  • Prevents and or minimizes adhesions and scar tissue formation

  • Reduces pain and inflammation

  • Speeds the healing process

  • Regenerates broken lymph vessels and damaged tissues

  • Prevents and or minimizes adhesions and scar tissue formation

  • Reduces pain and inflammation

  • Speeds the healing process

  • Regenerates broken lymph vessels and damaged tissues



  • Same benefits as injuries

  • Special wound and scar treatments accelerates healing and reduces scarring

Pre-operative (1-2 days before surgery)

  • Prepares and detoxifies the tissues to be operated on

  • Enhances immune functioning, helps prevent infections and improves healing results

  • Promotes relaxation


MLD has been shown to be effective in relieving migraines, tension headaches and headaches caused by head trauma/whiplash. Weekly “interval” MLD treatments can help reduce the frequency and severity of migraines. Receiving MLD at the first sign of a migraine can prevent full onset of a migraine.

  • Pain is reduced by MLD’s toning effect on dilated extracranial blood vessels

  • Reduces concentration of pain mediators through the removal of metabolic wastes from the meningeal vessels

  • Relaxes hypertonic neck and head muscles

  • Sufferers report feeling a reduction in pressure, throbbing and nausea during the treatment

Skin Care

  • Reduces acne breakouts and congestion

  • Reduces swelling and puffiness

  • Improves rosacea

  • Enhances beauty of skin

  • Shrinks pores


Lymphedema is a serious medical condition, in which fluid accumulates in a limb or torso due to the lymph system being unable to transport the lymph load. Cancer treatment is the most common cause of secondary lymphedema. Lymph node removal, mastectomy or other surgery, radiation, scarring or chemotherapy can disrupt the flow of lymph, It is very important to clear and concise with your therapist regarding your medical history with these pathologies. While MLD can be extremely effective in aiding these, misinformation can lead to worsening of symptoms.

Other conditions and benefits

  • Frequent colds

  • Sluggish immune system

  • Detoxification (antibiotics, Prednisone, nicotine, etc.)

  • Lipedema

  • Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Lyme Disease

  • Burns and scars

  • Wounds

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)

  • Allergies

  • Sinusitis

  • Pregnancy related swelling

Contraindications for MLD

Manual Lymph Drainage is contraindicated in situations where increasing lymph flow would be harmful to certain medical conditions, such as acute infections, malignant tumors, serious heart problems, and acute thrombosis.

There are other relative contraindications that would be considered on a case by case basis. Your therapist will take a thorough health history and will request consult with your primary care physician if necessary.

How long is an MLD session?

30, 60 or 90 minute session are available depending on the area(s) being addressed. 30 and 60 minutes sessions are utilized for specific areas needing work. 90 minute sessions are reserved for a full body detox MLD treatment.

MLD is also part of the Honey Facelift Massage service. Please click here to find out more about this service that utilizes a variety of modalities including MLD to firm, tone and tighten the muscles and skin of the face!

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