Lymph and Lymphoedema

What is Lymph?

Lymph is formed from the fluid that bathes all the cells in our body tissues. The blood stream carries oxygen and nutrients to all the tissues of the body through arteries. The arteries divide and divide again many times until the smallest vessels, known as capillaries, permeate between all the cells of our bodies. No cell in our bodies is more than a short distance away from its nearest capillary. The fluid in the capillaries leaks out, carrying oxygen and nutrients to bathe the cells and supply their needs.

Most of this fluid is reabsorbed back into the capillaries, and enters the veins, which then return the blood stream to the heart. However not all of the fluid is reabsorbed. An estimated 4 litres per day remains surrounding the cells of the body. If left to its own devices this interstitial fluid would build up and cause swelling, and so it is returned to the heart through a separate system of vessels known as the lymphatic vessels. Like capillaries, these are generally thin walled, and like veins they contain one-way valves that ensure that the direction of flow is always towards the heart. The lymphatic vessels join and gather together much as the veins do, and ultimately drain into the large veins in the neck, where the fluid they contain is returned to the blood stream just before it enters the heart.

Lymph nodes are small nodules of cells found along the length of the lymphatic channels, and through which the lymph flows. The cells they contain are lymphocytes (a form of white blood cell) that are part of the immune system of the body and macrophages that are also important in mounting a defence against infection.


Lymphoedema (also known as Lymphedema and lymphatic edema) is swelling caused by a build up of lymph fluid in the tissues. It can affect any area of the body, but most commonly develops in the arms or legs. It is caused by an impaired lymphatic system which has been damaged by surgery or infection, or failed to develop properly. When the lymphatic system is not working normally, fluid builds up in the tissues, and because it cannot drain away it causes swelling and discomfort.

Types of Lymphoedema

  • Primary - usually caused by a failure of the lymphatic system to develop properly causing lymphodema at any time of life (particularly at adolescence).
  • Secondary – caused by damage to the lymphatic system by trauma, injury, infection, surgery (where lymph nodes have been removed) and radiotherapy. Reduced mobility, paralysis, and poor circulation can also play a part in the development of lymphodema.

Lymphodema is a long term condition and is unlikely to ever resolve fully. A useful and informative patient information leaflet about lymphoedema can be downloaded from the Royal Marsden web site. Treatment is aimed at encouraging the lymph to drain away to healthy tissue and is based on:

  • Skin care- regular washing and the application of emollients to hydrate the skin and keep it in good condition.
  • Special exercises to help maximise lymph drainage. A useful description of exercises for lymphoedema can be found on the Cancer Research UK web site.
  • Compression garments or bandages to reduce limb swelling and ease discomfort.
  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) a specialised massage technique carried out by a trained therapist who moves the skin in a specific direction to aid lymph drainage and help open up new drainage channels to help reduce limb volume.
  • Simple lymph drainage massage techniques (SLD) based on MLD that patients are encouraged to do themselves on a regular basis.

Combined decongestive therapy incorporates MLD with bandaging to reduce limb volume. This is an intensive programme of many treatments close together consisting of MLD, bandaging and exercise. Thereafter, regular maintenance MLD treatments are helpful in keeping limb volume under control.

Lynda Carter MLD
Lynda Carter MLD updated their profile picture.2 months ago
Lynda Carter MLD
Lynda Carter MLD2 months ago

Do you suffer from Lymphoedema? Or have recently undergone Vasolipo Surgery?
You may be in need of some MLD massage treatment....

I have recently moved to Huddersfield in West Yorkshire and would be happy to help you. I offer tailored treatments...

Lynda Carter MLD
Lynda Carter MLD shared PhysioPod UK Limited's post.11 months ago

The human body is amazing!

Lynda Carter MLD
Lynda Carter MLD shared Revitalised Aesthetics Ltd's post.11 months ago

If you are considering Lipo then be sure to book your MLD treatments post op in advance.

Lynda Carter MLD
Revitalised Aesthetics Ltd
Qualified Manual Lymphatic drainage #MLD therapist provide treatment at Revitalised Aesthetics. According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, more and more people are making the decision to enhance their appearance through cosmetic surgery. One of the most popular procedures opted for by men and women is liposuction. A downside of cosmetic surgery is the initial after effects, such as swelling and bruising, which are experienced by patients post surgery. however, a course of Manual Lymphatic drainage Massage(MLD) treatment makes the healing process MUCH faster. It's important to optimise the result, minimise the risk of irregularity. Hence, more and more cosmetic surgeons like UK's leading cosmetic surgeon Dr Wolf, insist their patients to have a course of intense MLD treatment post operatively. It is crucial that you find a qualified MLD therapist , they should be registered with MLD UK. MLDUK is a professional association of manual lymphatic drainage practitioners. They hold national data base of certified MLD practitioners. #liposuction #manual lymphatic drainage #MLD #mlduk #coametic surgery #plastic surgeons
Lynda Carter MLD
Lynda Carter MLD shared Lymphedema Guru's post.11 months ago

MLD also can reduce lymphoedema along with compression hosiery, good skin care and exercise. Don’t wait until your limb gets this big!!!

Lynda Carter MLD
Lynda Carter MLD shared MLD & more's post.11 months ago

If you think you have Lipoedema then get in touch as MLD can be very beneficial.