One may notice a hardness or lumpiness to the areas treated with liposuction and/or with other body contouring procedures (such as fat injections for what is popularly known as the Brazilian Butt Lift). This post-surgical lymphedema is caused by inflammation and trauma from the cannula (instrument that sucks out the fat) moving under the skin. Channels are formed by the cannula that can fill up with fluid and the tissue also becomes swollen. Manual Lymphatic Massage helps to move the fluid by gently pumping it back into the lymph vessels. Reducing the swelling can reduce discomfort and may reduce contour irregularities after a liposuction procedure. Without Lymph Massage (LDT or MLD) the inflammation can evolve into fibrosis (a permanent hardening of the tissue) or a seroma ( pocket of serum) can form. It is imperative that one should follow the post-operative protocol of your plastic surgeon to achieve the best possible results and avoid developing fibrosis and even possibly contour irreguarities.
Clinical studies have shown that lymphatic massage also improved the clinical outcome after a cryolipolysis procedure. The study had shown that post-treatment manual massage resulted in a mean fat layer reduction was 68% greater in the massage side than in the non-massage side as measured by ultrasound at 2 months post-treatment. At 4 months, mean fat layer reduction was 44% greater in the massage side. Histological results showed no evidence of necrosis or fibrosis resulting from the massage.
I do NOT recommend receiving a general therapeutic, deep tissue or Swedish Massage in lieu of a lymphatic massage therapy after a liposuction procedure.
Emmanuel De La Cruz MD, PLLC
Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon, Houston Texas
Boey, et al. Enhanced clinical outcome with manual massage following cryolipolysis treatment: a 4-month study of safety and efficacy. Lasers Surg Med. 2014 Jan;46(1):20-6.