MLD for Post Cosmetic Surgery FAQs

We know there is a lot of information out there (and some misinformation too) about Manual Lymphatic Drainage, what it is (and isn’t!) and how it can be helpful after surgery. We have done our best to answer some of your most commonly asked questions below. If you have additional questions, check our MLD Services page, this blog post, or contact us

Do you see post-cosmetic surgery clients?
YES! Nearly daily we perform MLD on clients who have had liposuction to various parts of the body, brachioplasty (arm lift), abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), breast augmentation and reduction, Brazilian Butt Lift (and other fat transfer procedures), etc. As we mention on our Manual Lymphatic Drainage Services page, we are trained, licensed massage therapists. Even if you don’t come to see us, please make sure you are seeing someone who is properly trained (no online courses!) and licensed.

Does MLD hurt?
NO! Done properly, it should not hurt at all. We are trained in the Vodder and Chikly techniques, which are well-respected, medical methods of lymphatic drainage. This is NOT massage, but is specialized, advanced bodywork that uses light, gentle, rhythmic movements to move the excess fluid into the lymph vessels, where the body can rid itself of the waste in its normal ways of urinating, sweating and defecating. Sometimes we are asked to use more pressure, but trust us … MLD should not involve deep work! The body has gone through trauma and using force is not helping you heal more quickly.

Think of it like this: When using a garden hose, if you put pressure on the hose by stepping on it or bending it, the water doesn’t flow through well, right? When performing MLD, we move lymph fluid through lymphatic capillaries and using heavy pressure kinks the lymphatic “hose,” thereby preventing proper drainage (and slowing down the healing process).

How long after my procedure can I begin MLD sessions?
We like you to be about 1 week post-op, have no open incisions, and have no remaining drains when you begin your sessions with us. We know some of you had “lymphatic drainage” immediately after your surgery (more on this below) and want to come in to see us before your incisions are healed, but our treatment guidelines are meant to protect you from infection.

I have been wearing a compression garment post surgery.  Does that need to come off during my session?
Yes.  We do need access to skin to perform MLD, so compression garments do need to be removed for your session.  Some clients find it easier to leave them at home.

I had “lymphatic drainage” after my surgery and they pushed the fluid out of my incisions. It hurt! Are you going to be opening my incisions and doing the same thing?
NO! Somewhere along the way, someone decided this was a thing. Whatever it is, it is NOT manual lymphatic drainage. As we have said, MLD is gentle. It does not involve pushing fluid out of your body. It does not involve opening incisions. Doing these things puts you at risk for infection. If you find someone who wants to do that, please make sure you are in a hospital or medical spa in a sterile environment. But really, just don’t do that to yourself.

If the work is so gentle, is it really helping me?
YES! The work is not dramatic. It is slow and methodical. You might think nothing is happening … but it is! MLD helps the body to heal and to rid itself of the excess fluid that has built up because the body has gone through trauma (the surgery or procedure you just had).

We get it. After your cosmetic surgery you want to see results quickly! You may have seen dramatic results in a TikTok video. However, as we have mentioned above, MLD is not deep or invasive work, it does not involve pushing fluid out of incisions. If you fell down and cut your leg, would you want to rub, squeeze, roll and generally be rough with that cut? That would probably make things worse, and we are only here to help!

Why should I choose Holistic Lakewood for my post-op care?
Those of us at Holistic Lakewood who perform MLD (there are currently three of us) are all well-trained, licensed massage therapists with many years of experience and practice. We understand anatomy and what happens to the body after cosmetic surgery. We care about your wellbeing and are here to help!

But if you don’t choose us, at least ask about the qualifications of the person you do choose to see:

  • Are they licensed in Ohio (certification is not the same thing as a license)? No? Keep looking.
  • Do they want to open your incisions? If so, are they in a sterile environment (hospital/clinic/medical spa)? No? Run, then keep looking.
  • Do they use heavy pressure? Yes? Keep looking.

And if we are too far from you and you are looking for someone closer to you but don’t know who to see, give us a call! We can recommend some reputable MLD practitioners in other areas.