Cosmetic/Orthopedic Surgery and Treating the Lymphatic System

Pre & Post Op

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapy is a highly effective treatment both prior to any cosmetic, reconstructive or other surgical procedures, and after. Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage aids in dramatically reducing swelling, bruising, scar formation and overall recovery time. The typical side effects of post-op surgery can be significantly reduced with MLD, minimizing downtime and discomfort.  

MLD’s acceptance by the medical community is largely due to research studies.  In a study conducted by Laurie Casas, M.D. and Patricia Depoli, M.D. the question of whether or not MLD produces significant outcomes for post surgery patients was answered. The study represented 13 different cosmetic-surgery procedures.  Half the group was given MLD and the other half was not.  The evidence points to this conclusion, the authors noted:  “We see complete resolution of postoperative edema, bruising and fibrosis within 9-18 months in non-MLD patients.  Those given MLD healed within six weeks to three months, significantly shortening postoperative recovery.”


For any scheduled surgical procedure you will need to schedule your session(s) 1 week prior to the procedure.  You can have multiple sessions during the week prior to the procedure, but should not schedule any lymphatic drainage the day before your procedure.  MLD prior to surgery enables your immune system and your body to be prepared for the impending recovery period.  


Manual Lymphatic Drainage following your cosmetic, reconstructive surgery or other surgery procedure speeds up the recovery time.  Symptoms such as bruising and swelling are diminished, reducing pain and discomfort and allowing you to recover faster. MLD has proven to be effective for reducing and improving the after effects of surgical procedures.  Here is a brief list of types of procedures that have benefited from MLD.


You can begin receiving Manual Lymphatic Drainage 48-72 hours after your procedures with a release from your Physician ensuring you are free of infection and your pain medications are regulated.  This also ensures you are not suffering from any effects from the anesthesia

COMPRESSION GARMENTS:  You will need to obtain permission from your Physician to remove your compression garment during the session. If the Physician recommends you keep the garment on, MLD can still be performed with the same beneficial results.  The key to MLD is the fact that it gets the lymphatic system moving and any excess fluid is eliminated naturally through your urinary system.  MLD helps to speed up the lymphatic system to increase the rate of releasing of  excess fluids held in the body.

Once you have completed the recommended recovery series we recommend, to preserve the beneficial MLD outcomes experienced, to move to a MLD Maintenance phase.  This would be 1 treatment session every 3 to 4 months.

Benefits of MLD to cosmetic-surgery patients:

  • Bruising reduction. Cells transported by the lymph system are moved away 10 times faster with MLD. Bruises heal in a fraction of the time, allowing clients the ability to resume activities of daily living, without having to wear sunglasses for months to hide bruises.
  • Edema reduction. MLD reroutes lymph fluid to collateral and viable pathways untouched by surgery to allow for accelerated drainage, as opposed to the slow trickle of tissue fluids in the operative site.
  • Pain management. As pressure of lymph fluid decreases around nerves, pain and discomfort are relieved and require less pain medication.
  • Scar-tissue prevention and fibrosis reduction. Lymph fluid left to build up below incisions or sitting in interstitial space can solidify, causing the formation of scar tissue and fibrotic tissue. These tissues are often felt as ball-like substances below the skin surface. MLD prevents lymph fluid build up and solidification, for a seamless scar.
  • Infection prevention. Post surgical MLD is important when considering that stagnating lymph fluid can become infectious material and warrant artificial drain insertion—which is painful, costly and time consuming.
The following speaks to the effectiveness of MLD from Cosmetic Surgeon Bart Rademaker, M.D:

“The surgical patient, in particular, benefits largely from manual lymphatic drainage,” says cosmetic surgeon Bart Rademaker, M.D. “In these situations, the normal homeostasis is upset through anesthesia or tissue injury, and the normal channels to remove excessive toxins or waste are overwhelmed.

“Effective manual lymphatic drainage definitely improves surgical outcomes and speed of recovery,” he adds.

What’s more, it is all natural and with minimal side effects. Some clients may balk at the price tag of $135 to $200 for a 50-minute session; however, remember MLD often resolves issues that would normally take months of medications, totaling far more.