The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system that works alongside your arteries and veins. Arteries bring blood to an area, veins bring blood back from an area but this system is not perfect and some fluid gets left behind. This fluid is called lymph and the lymphatic system is responsible for bringing this fluid back to the bloodstream.
Role of Lymph Nodes
On its way back to the bloodstream lymph passes through lymph nodes. These lymph nodes are similar to on ramps on a highway. Lots of little lymph vessels enter into the lymph node and merge into one large vessel that travels towards the bloodstream.
Difficulties resulting from lymph node removal
When lymph nodes are removed the lymph can no longer move from the small vessels to the larger “highways”. Without access to these large vessels the flow of lymph slows down. This can cause fluid buildup (swelling). Because old fluid is not leaving the area, new fluid is no longer able to make it into those areas either. This can lead to a variety of issues including pain and discomfort, dermatitis and cellulitis.
How Manual Lymphatic Drainage helps
Just like a road system in a city, there is more than one way for the lymph to get to where it needs to go. Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) can encourage the lymph to take another route back to the bloodstream. MLD works by gently increasing the flow of lymph towards the healthy lymph nodes. It is estimated that MLD can encourage lymph to flow up to 10 times faster than normal. This increased flow can help reverse and prevent swelling.