Mastering Holistic Manual Lymphatic Drainage

Manual Lymphatic Drainage Face Massage
See how manual lymphatic drainage can benefit your clients.
Photo courtesy of microgen

When we begin to think of holistic skin care, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is at the top of the list. However, maybe you haven’t thought about it in that way. Let’s take a look at what manual lymphatic drainage is, how it works, and how it goes hand-in-hand with the world of esthetics.

Diving into MLD is very intriguing and fulfilling. As estheticians, we find ourselves wanting more and trying to fill that void of wanting exactly what our clients need without having to compromise the skin. The theory of MLD took me back to school, as I felt the pressure to pass all my work with passing colors.

What is MLD?

This practice is a light touch physical therapy recognized by the medical, spa and wellness communities, alike. It stimulates the lymph fluid to flow through the lymph vessels by providing a deep relaxation while accelerating cellular repair and regeneration.

How Does It Work?

MLD draws from its name, with its primary objective being “drainage.” By accelerating the flow of lymph, MLD accelerates the removal of metabolic waste and pathogens stored in the loose connective tissues, allowing for a more efficient transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the cells.

What is the Lymphatic/Immune System?

The lymphatic system is a vast network of vessels and plays a vital role in maintaining balance to circulation fluids. It’s responsible for carrying excess water, proteins, pathogens and waste from the connective tissue back to the blood system. During the transportation process, it is cleaned, filtered and concentrated with many immune reactions occurring in the lymph nodes.

The lymphatic/immune system is a vital factor to the circulatory and immune system, and is made up of the liver, lymph, lymph nodes, thymus gland, spleen and lymph vessels that act as an aide to the circulatory system. The lymphatic and immune systems are closely connected in how they protect the body from diseases by developing resistance to pathogens and destroying disease-causing microorganisms.

The lymphatic system is closely connected to the circulatory system for the transportation of fluids. The difference is that the lymphatic system transports lymph fluid, and the circulatory system carries blood. The lymphatic system does not have its own pumping mechanism like the heart. It relies on some actions in the circulatory system and helps muscles to move lymphatic fluid. MLD, a specialized form of massage that assists in moving collections of lymphatic fluid, can be a very healing part of an esthetician’s work.

Related: Why Lymphatic Drainage Is Trending

MLD and Skin Appearance

Stress and inflammation are the two most damaging aging factors. MLD targets and inhibits the negative effects of stress and reduces inflammation. In cases of acne, MLD consistently produces remarkable results. In general, skin conditions respond well to the nature of MLD and carry cellular debris away from the skin tissue, and facilitate the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

For example, if you have a client come in, you thoroughly go over consultation, health history and holistic wellness check. The client is dealing with grade one or two acne and your normal routine is something more aggressive, active ingredients. However with MLD, your now able to address the inflammation in the skin first by flushing out any negative debris, unwanted waste and now your able to flush new oxygen, cleaned and filtrated back into the cells for repair. Once this is done and you begin to see improvement and your treatment plan has changed, you may only need to introduce enzyme treatments to this client and keep thier treatment plan at minimum without more aggressive treatments.

Understanding MLD as a Modality

As stated, using the manual lymphatic drainage technique helps cleanse and detoxify the body. Congestion, water and waste in the lymphatic vessels create edema in the tissue. By moving the fluid out of the body with light massage techniques, you will help decrease the swelling from excess fluid.

Depending on your state estheticians may perform pre- and post-operative treatments and provide client/patient education before cosmetic surgery. This is very important because this information can speed up client/patient recovery time. During pre-operative care, you are able to prepare the skin for the procedure. Preparing the skin for optimum state by using MLD techniques to pump the lymphatic system of fresh oxygen and get rid of metabolic waste.

By doing this, the skin is now prepped for cosmetic surgery and has fewer traumatic issues with the tissue of the skin and helps shorten the recovery time. Increasing the skin’s metabolism and reducing cellular debris on the surface are part of conditioning the skin. This can be done inside your private practice or in a more clinical environment.

Exercise Your Options

MLD treatments can be excellent “add-ons” to elevate any facial or treatment, lasting anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes. For clients dealing with weight loss and have that pesky, unwanted loose skin under their chin, offering a non-surgical facelift is always a go-to treatment. Not only would it target under their chin, but it would also target the whole face and neck. The procedure will lift the forehead, reduce puffiness and fine lines under the eyes, lift cheeks, chins, improving skin tone and slimming the neck. This is done by using the MLD techniques without any surgery or machine.

Are You Trained in MLD?

Whether offered as a stand-alone treatment or an add-on, MLD is highly effective and remarkable for clients of all ages. Become trained in MLD by attending an in-person training. Expand your service menu. Offer MLD for clients who are thinking about surgery and want to save money. Introduce MLD to your acne and aging clients to help with flushing out inflammation without using aggressive treatments, and help give their glow back even faster with your newfound MLD techniques.

By offering MLD, you will become more sought out and your books will be completely booked. Partnering with a physician’s office would excel your business, as it did mine. Use your before and after pictures to show your great, quick results. Some clients will allow you to take and post on social media, however, some may not. That is okay. Ask if it is okay to just show other clients without showing on social media.

Yes, it may not be seen by the masses, but word of mouth after they see the results works even better. “Girl, my esthetician just lifted my face without surgery, you have to go see her too!” “OMG, your face and skin looks amazing! Who is your esthetician?” Boom! You’re a hit! Lastly, did I mention there are no supplies needed for MLD? So, with that being said, your cost per service just went out the door! More profit for you!

Founder and CEO of The Glam Station and Spa and The Bonner Institute ®️ , Terrance Bonner has over 13 years of experience in the beauty industry as an educator, author, LMT and LE. HE has taught over 4,000 skin care and massage therapist professionals on topics ranging from chemical peels, manual lymphatic drainage and advanced modalities in massage therapy and esthetics.

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