Manual Lymphatic Drainage – Vodder Method

Manual Lymphatic Drainage, or MLD, is a gentle stretching of the skin which effectively stimulates and opens the lymphatic vessels, capillaries, and collectors which sit immediately under the surface of the skin.  Detoxification of the body begins in the lymphatic system. A sluggish, fibrotic, dirty, or backed up system can be characterized by dull, achey pain, can account for certain joint swellings, and can even be responsible for some heel pain.  It can also be the cause for some headaches, post nasal drip, and sinus pressures.

100 years ago Dr. Emil Vodder developed MLD to help contend with sinusitis.  It was brought to the United States by Dr. Robert Lerner in the mid-1980’s and has been an area of study and research by the team of Laurie Casas, MD and Patricia Depoli, MD in at least 13 cosmetic surgery procedures.  Benefits in these studies were:

  • Bruise reduction – lymphangiomotoricity is increased by 10-fold with MLD
  • Edema reduction – lymph is rerouted to collateral and viable pathways untouched by surgery to allow for accelerated drainage
  • Pain management – decreasing lymphatic pressure around nerves decreases overall body pain
  • Scar tissue prevention/fibrosis reduction – pooling lymph below surgical incisions or stagnating in interstitial space (the area between cells) can solidify, leading to scar tissue formation and fibrotic tissue
  • Infection prevention – postsurgical MLD is important when considering that stagnating lymph can become infectious

MLD, when used at protocol intervals and regularly, is highly effective in facilitating lymphatic flow in otherwise body areas thereby decreasing and even eliminating inflammation, undue heat, and stagnant swelling.  Below are thermographic photographs of a female.  Thermography measures body heat; white and red is hot; green and blue is cool.  The Set 1 shows an initial thermographic reading.  The Set 2 shows the same female after having regular, weekly MLD for 8 months.

Set 1                                                        Set 2

It should also be mentioned that the uses of MLD extend way beyond swelling and surgery healing.  Check out the list of things it can help with.

  • Acne
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Allergies
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Eczema
  • Scar Reduction
  • Sinusitis
  • Lymphodemia
  • Pre and Post Op Preparation
  • Glaucoma
  • Burns
  • Ear Aches

All treatments done at Rosewood Holistic Health are hands-on bodywork.  This means that electrical equipment is never used to administer your MLD session.  By using our hands we can continuously monitor what is going on and make necessary adjustments to address a client’s needs every single time.  Clients like the sensitive and personal attention they receive!

The 5-day protocol is used in the days/week before surgery and 48-72 hours post-surgery upon doctor’s clearance (infection-free, pain meds managed, and no effects from anesthesia); when edema, pitting edema, lymphedema, lipedema or other similar diagnosis is rendered; or when working to achieve a detoxification goal.  This intensive protocol may need to be repeated in order to provide enough treatment for a client.

The 5-day intensive is a 5 consecutive day treatment process without any breaks in between days.  1 50-min MLD session is given each day for 5 consecutive days.  The protocol is paid for on day one and all 5 sessions are scheduled prior to the first session.  Due to the special pricing and time allotment for the 5-day intensive no make-ups are permitted.

It is recommended that the client weigh themselves prior to first session and throughout the week due to potential water loss and thereby by weight loss.  During the first and last sessions benchmark measurements taken will help us determine any inches lost due to water loss/fluid movement and evaluate progress.

It is also requested that the client wear LOOSE FITTING clothing that is non-binding (i.e. no tight, thick waistbands; no underwire bras; no constricting sleeve or pant hems; no spandex pants, underwear, tops).

16 oz of water before and after every session is required.


Do I have to follow the protocol?

A bubbling fountain of youth in the body begins with a strongly flowing lymphatic system.  Tapping into this naturally healing reservoir can aid strengthening the immune system when used correctly.  Just as it is important to have your car oil changed at proper intervals and to take a blood pressure medication as prescribed for your car and your heart to work right, so it is essential to follow the developed protocol for optimal success.

Is MLD ‘really’ as effective as it is said to be?

It is good to be cautious.  There are some ‘mechanized’ MLD options out there they are not nearly effective as a therapist facilitated session and often they are a lot more expensive depending on where you go.  Additionally, employing this method the client forfeits the expertise of therapist palpation which is essential in assessing treatment along the way.

Below is blood work where c-reactive protein was measured before receiving regular MLD treatment and then after 10 months of weekly to bi-weekly treatment.  Notice that the c-reactive protein levels decreased by half which is a significant drop.  MLD was the only thing added/deleted from this patient’s regime.  (BTW, this blood work belonged to me!  It was this very journey that led to becoming a Certified Manual Lymphatic Drainage therapist.)

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