Manual Lymph Drainage Massage for Breast Cancer Survivors

When it comes to undergoing breast cancer surgery, patients often have to make tough decisions about their bodies. The spectrum of certain circumstances is endless. But no matter where you find yourself stuck, one thing that you’d agree on is your desire to heal quickly after surgery. While there’s a certain time frame for recovery, certain techniques like manual lymph drainage massage can help ease the pain. When you feel comfortable and better, it can lead to faster recovery.

What is Manual lymph drainage massage?

Manual lymph drainage (MLD) massage is a technique to massage gently to stimulate the lymphatic system. If you’re not aware, let’s inform you that the lymphatic system helps in draining excessive fluid, waste products, and proteins from the body’s tissues. If this system doesn’t work properly, it can lead to fluid buildup in tissues and cause swelling. But with the help of manual lymphatic drainage massage, one can improve the natural flow of lymph fluid while decreasing swelling.

Benefits of Manual Lymph Drainage Massage for Breast Cancer Survivors:

Following are some notable advantages of massaging the lymphatic system manually after breast surgery:

Reduction of Lymphedema:

One of the major benefits of MLD massage is that it reduces lymphedema. MLD helps to move the lymphatic fluid that has become stagnant by using soft, rhythmic movements, which lowers swelling and improves fluid outflow. This can greatly improve the quality of life for survivors who might be struggling with the discomfort that comes with having lymphedema in their bodies.

Increased Range of Motion:

The impacted areas’ range of motion may be impacted by radiation therapy and surgical operations. MLD massage promotes tissue regeneration and reduces inflammation, which helps to restore mobility and flexibility. Having more range of motion makes it easier for breast cancer survivors to carry out daily tasks, which improves their overall quality of life.

Also Read: Healing Insights – Coping Strategies for Breast Edema After Radiation

Pain management:

Pain and discomfort are common among breast cancer survivors, especially in the areas that have been exposed to radiation or surgery. Because MLD massage encourages the production of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, it has been demonstrated to be useful in controlling pain. This non-invasive form of managing pain can be very helpful for people looking for additional or alternative ways to reduce their agony.

Emotional Well-being:

Breast cancer survivors frequently experience anxiety and sadness as a result of the emotionally exhausting nature of their treatment. MLD massage promotes relaxation and lowers stress levels, offering a comprehensive approach to well-being. In addition to promoting a favorable emotional state and assisting in the healing process, the therapeutic touch creates a feeling of comfort and caring.

Enhanced Immunological Response:

The lymphatic system is essential to the immunological response that the body mounts. By promoting lymphatic drainage, MLD massage aids in the body’s elimination of waste materials and poisons. Survivors may benefit from increased immunity to infections and a quicker healing process from illnesses, which will ultimately improve their general health.

Precautions for Manual Lymph Drainage Massage

Although there are several benefits of manual lymph drainage massage during breast cancer treatment, you need to take certain precautions. Make sure that your massage therapist takes care of the given precautions to ensure improvement in your condition:

  • Since radiation or chemotherapy treatments lead to bruising, avoid doing deep tissue massage.
  • Avoid the incision sites while massaging to prevent infection – as these areas are still healing.
  • Radiation can cause sensitivity and skin damage. So, avoid the areas of swelling and redness.
  • Even a single removed lymph mode can lead to inflammation or lymphedema. Just a light touch is recommended in these areas. So, consult a massage therapist who is well-trained in manual lymphatic drainage massage.
  • In case of a medication port, consider no massage above or over the local area.

How long should you receive a massage? 

It usually depends on how much you may tolerate and your condition. It is best to be gentle and don’t overload your system. Usually, a 60-minute massage is enough for a lymphatic, full-body massage. However, as per the studies, only 15 minutes of massage also shows lasting and measurable biological effects.

When should you get a massage?

Massage therapy is beneficial at each stage of your breast cancer journey. If you get a massage before surgery, it can reduce anxiety can soften connective tissues and muscles to prepare your body for the surgery. A massage also alleviates various side effects during radiation and chemotherapy. Many patients find massage helpful before their further treatment.  Often reconstructive surgery is a painful and lengthy procedure. So, massage therapy helps enhance the range of motion, as well as tissue elasticity, while minimizing lymphedema. Moreover, it can help individuals reconnect with their bodies while boosting body image before and after their breast cancer treatment.


According to research, manual lymph drainage massage can ease pain and increase relaxation feeling. It also offers several benefits for breast cancer patients from the time of diagnosis to recovery. Several doctors also encourage patients to indulge in therapeutic massages to decrease the side effects and symptoms of treatments. Besides that, you can seek help from The Pink Ribbon Boutique, a unique specialty shop offering creative solutions, products and services, to meet the specific requirements of breast cancer patients.

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