MLD first became known in 1935 when Dr Emil Vodder and his wife were living and working in Cannes, France as massage therapists. The majority of their English patients were recovering from persistent colds and the Vodders discovered that all those patients had swollen lymph nodes in their necks. At that stage it was taboo for massage therapists to treat the lymphatic system. However, Vodder dared to break the taboo, treated the lymph nodes and the colds vanished. Supported by his success, he developed MLD.
Manual lymphatic drainage is a specialised form of massage designed to attain and sustain proper functioning of the lymphatic system. Its purpose is to move fluid out of the body’s tissues, into and through the lymphatic system, using a series of rhythmic, firm yet gentle hand movements. The lymph fluid is moved towards lymph nodes that can filter it and eventually drain it back into the blood stream. It is a main component in the treatment of lymphoedema and lipoedema. And is beneficial in reducing swelling after surgery.