Placeholder What Massages Do You Need After Surgery?

What Massages Do You Need After Surgery?

The Types of Massages You Need Post-Surgery 

While there are many types of “post-op massages” to choose from post-surgery, it’s so crucial to understand why manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) massage is the only option to help your body with swelling and fibrosis.

Today, we go over what MLD massage is, why it’s such an important part of your healing process, and how to vet an MLD therapist. 

What Is Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

MLD is a specialized type of gentle pumping techniques that stimulate your lymph vessels to reabsorb and eliminate excess swelling, remove toxins, and heal broken tissue to help speed up the healing process- and it is never painful! 

Your lymphatic system is the system in your body built-in and responsible for getting rid of excess swelling every day. It’s happening right now as you read this blog! Manual Lymphatic Drainage is something your body is designed to do 24/7.

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage is the manual pumping technique of the skin, dilating the lymphatic vessels, speeding up and triggering the natural drainage of excess fluid back into your body to be urinated out. 

MLD does not involve a ton of pressure, tools, machines, or pushing fluid out of your incisions!

We are working with the body and the system that already exists. During surgery, this system is overloaded with fluid and needs help, that's why MLD is so crucial for healing.

The Science Behind Manual Lymphatic Massage

There are many benefits of manual lymphatic drainage massage but the most important one post-op is the elimination of excess swelling. If we don’t get rid of excess swelling after surgery, it can become stagnant and thick, turning into fibrosis.

MLD helps your body’s lymphatic system transport excess fluid and macromolecules like proteins, into your bloodstream to be urinated out. Your lymph nodes act as a HEPA filter for your body, they will swell when you’re sick. This is probably the only reason you know the lymphatic system exists. 

Your lymphatic system is not just lymph nodes and is responsible for cleaning and circulating the fluid in your body and tissues, ensuring that any excess swelling, bacteria, viruses, toxins, debris, and broken tissue gets taken out through your urine, which is why post surgery it may need additional stimulation via MLD massage. 

Surgery is an injury to your tissue and your body makes swelling to try and heal itself. Unlike your vascular system, the lymphatic system is a one-way track out of your body. Fluid gets picked up in the tissue by lymph vessels which are only a hair thick and a hair deep beneath your skin, travels to the lymph nodes to be cleansed and finally dumped into the bloodstream, making its way to your kidneys to be urinated out.

After surgery, your tissue fills up with swelling and proteins that it needs to heal the tissue, but if there's excess swelling, the system gets overloaded, swelling becomes stagnant, painful, and even turns into fibrosis (scar tissue).

How Long After Surgery Do You Need to Get a MLD Massage?

The number of times you need to see your MLD therapist per week depends on a variety of factors, including how your body is healing, how your swelling is doing, and how you’re taking care of yourself post-surgery. 

The burning question everyone has is: how soon can you get a massage after surgery?

There is no exact day or timeline, but the golden rule is as soon as you can comfortably get to your sessions. We want to make sure you are fully in the inflammation phase of wound healing and the homeostasis phase, where your body is still bleeding, has calmed down. 

You will need this type of massage for as long as you have swelling and/or fibrosis. You can still have fibrosis, swelling, and pain 6 months post-op and not be healing properly. 

Jumping into other kinds of aggressive “post-op massage” too soon, while you're still swollen, can cause more broken tissue and fibrosis.

Who Should You Get an MLD From? 

Only book a manual lymphatic drainage massage with a certified manual lymphatic drainage massage therapist. 

Note: Post-op massage is not the same thing as MLD. 

Not everyone who offers MLD is doing the proper technique you need to reduce swelling and fibrosis. It’s extremely important that you learn exactly how the sequence, technique, and pressure should feel, what’s supposed to happen during your sessions, the types of certifications you should look for, and what you should ask your MLD therapist in our post-surgery online course

Differences Between Post-Op Massage and MLD Massage

It’s important to understand that not every post-op massage is a manual lymphatic drainage massage. There’s a lot of information on the internet about post-op massages that can help reduce swelling and fibrosis, but these massages don't address the lymphatic system and often involve rolling and other techniques that further injure the healing tissue contributing to more swelling. 

You’re only going to see reduced swelling if you’re receiving manual lymphatic massage after surgery. This type of massage stimulates the lymphatic system directly working with the body's natural way of healing, not against it.

Learn all about manual lymphatic drainage massage, how it works, and how to find a certified MLD therapist by enrolling in our post-op online course today.