The Importance of Manual Breast lymphatic drainage.

The practice of manually dispersing lymph from the breast tissue is widespread and universally seen as a means of easing or preventing monthly swelling and discomfort.    It is included in our Clinical Massage and is done, by consent during the latter part of a general "MOT". 

There are a great many websites now, far more than a few years ago.  Hopefully, this indicates a greater awareness of the great need to have this done regularly.

It is used in pregnancy to ease the weight of the enlarged breast and to assist with ‘Let down’ post partum. It was said by some of the older generation of midwives to help prevent pre-eclampsia by dispersing calcium that otherwise collects in the adipose tissues. Certainly, in the 1st trimester, when used to relieve morning sickness, it is often quite effective and many have found such relief. It can be useful in the dispersing of fibrocystic tissue and in the prevention of accumulation of toxins. It is commonly seen that the mood is affected greatly by any discomfort in the breast and can easily affect the relationship with a partner.   So, what is going on.

The female breast is basically, an enlarged sweat gland, modified to produce milk for suckling babies and to pass on colestrum. Mothers milk is full of antibodies from the mothers’ blood and immune system, with immunoglobulins to help protect new born from bacteria and viruses together with the easing of the first dietary stools or meconium. The bulk of the breast structure is composed of adipose tissue or fatty cells to give the bulk and milk ducts.

Each person has a different size on each side and some are noticeably bigger. This is natural. To serve the tissue there is a network of arteries to bring in the nutrients, the veins to continue the flow of blood and the immune system of lymphatics.   There are no muscles as such to support the weight, just a length of ligament from under the collar bone to the bottom of the chest wall. Underwired bras can inhibit the flow of lymph if not fitted correctly and sports halter type support is better where suitable.

The breast tissue is outside of the shoulder and chest muscles and has a fascial layer. The sensory nerves have an effect on the chest muscles, such as the pectoralis and a reciprocal pain is often detected. Hence a shoulder injury will need to have the breast tissue examined and drained if it is causing a problem. Before treatment is carried out, it is usual to palpate to identify any lymph nodes that may be erupted or any obvious unnatural lumps.

The only set of muscles are the erectors that lift the nipple and of course, the usual follicles.  The dark skin around the nipple is called the auriole and usually, this changes colour from light to dark when a pregnancy occurs, whether or not birth is subsequent.

The erection of the nipple occurs spontaneously upon some visual, evocative image, deep comfort and relaxation. It occurs with the release of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the bodies lubrication system and is the wonder hormone that is so often wrongly attributed to a mere desire stimulus. It is so important in the body yet few understand the role. The role of this hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland is so widespread in the forming of social bonds, pairing relationships and only of late has this been scientifically investigated.

Its’ effects have been known to therapy practitioners for many years. The so-called ‘chemistry’ between individuals can simply be this hormone. It is common for a client or patient to feel this close bond with a therapist, nurse or one who simply is kind and caring. Any good therapist will be aware of this and ensure that it is not misunderstood nor allowed to be taken advantage of.

During the course of a session of lymphatic drainage, particularly with deep tissue therapy method, such closeness is very apparent on many occasions. It is important in the ability to relieve stress and allow the client to feel free to just ‘Let go’ of all the old memories or trauma. Some will find it quite unnerving to suddenly be able to blurt out things that may never have been spoken of to anyone before. In absolute confidence, with an ethical and worldly therapist this is a really very good thing to happen.

FIBROCYSTIC LUMPS. It is common and becoming increasingly so even in young girls from the age of 13 to detect what is now known as Fibrocystic disease.   These lumps are benign and surrounded with excess fluid. There are many versions of the cause but in my experience, not only is diet and deficiency of Iodine, Vit A and D etc indicated but excess of Progesterone, hormone Oestrogen imbalance and poor circulation.   Monthly period pain is often associated with painful breasts and in my experiences having treated many thousands of women and girls the pain is 90% of the time able to be relieved with manual lymphatic drainage.  In the NHS Website, self massage is shown but clearly, it is difficult to get the pressures needed using just one hand.   Simply brushing the tissue is not enough though better than nothing. 

SELF MASSAGE.. There are a number of sites describing this and some You Tube videos plus excellent guidance on the NHS sites. This is great for those who are quite happy to work on themselves or may have some inhibition of having therapy administered.  Of course, most people are not experts, have never been taught how to do it correctly and may get quite anxious about the whole thing. One cannot compare this with a therapist who will have been doing it for many years and treated thousands of women.  Few self-help methods can get the right pressure and know exactly where are the stimulus points for the release of toxins.  In this clinic, both hands are used to direct the lymph flow and trigger point acupressure ensures deep clearance of the unwanted fluids. 

IMPLANTS OR AUGMENTATION ..  Whatever system of implants or augmentation is involved, there will be damage to the lymphatic system. There are so many different reasons for augmentation and some will have one side done to balance the sizes. If pregnancy occurs then the appearance is quite disturbed and may not return to what it was before. Only a skilled therapist is able to determine which vessels are open and which are not.

POST CANCER THERAPY AND MASTECTOMY, LUMPECTOMY ETC. Lymphoedema is common following any such procedures and great care should be taken to get the correct drainage stimulation.   The arm may be swollen and the neck painful. Nerves may have been damaged and essential post therapy rehabilitation is needed.

MASSAGE SESSION..  This will commence with a full medical history as far as possible and explanation of what happens in a session followed by signing of a consent form. Of course, if you are not completely content at any time, you may stop the session immediately. The appearance of both may be considered with the person standing and then laying on her back. Obvious defects of skin, inverted nipples, sunken areas, lumps and colour are considered before any therapy may be done.  We have found that it has been necessary to check the aureole for any hardness similar to grains of rice as these have been found to be a problem requiring medical opinion.

This is usual and essential to avoid applying pressure to a tumour. It is for your own good and how the breast lays when standing and then laying is important to assess how much fluid is retained. The weight of the breast is supported and the upper inner quadrant is drained manually to the axilliary ducts in the arm pits. There are drains under the collar bone, in the shoulder and neck and all lead back to two veins returning the lymph to the heart. The next section to be drained is usually the section towards the sternum or breast bone.  Then the areas under the breast and after this, the very deep lymphatics between the ribs.

So, the administered therapy is very much more intensive and balanced to give the optimum flow of blood and lymph. During the session, it may be found that the breath smells or there is a metal taste in the mouth. This is where the toxins are coming out through the lung, Often, it is necessary to use Moxa ( A healing herb ) on the kidneys to assist the ability to filter these toxins. One would then be asked to drink water.

These are the basics of what is involved and if you want to see the depth of lymphatics, any Google search with ‘Safe search’ off will show these images.  We do not use "Vodder" systems but deal with the deeper lymphatics as that is far more effective in our experience.  Such massages are not commonly taught in such as Swedish or to those who have only been taught to "Minimum Standards".  This is not a "pamper session".  It can take years of practice to acquire the necessary skills to do this massage effectively.   Those who do not practice this almost every day and are only trained in general massage have no concept of what are the benefits and the insurance cover for them does not include breast massage. 

Here it is standard practice and has been for the last 25 years. 

Do get in touch with me, Tony and I will be pleased to answer your queries. Just book in for a session if want to feel the benefits. 

Remember that if you wish to have a chaperone in the room, do ask when booking.  Most wish to be seen in private.  During the course of some 800 treatments each year only a handful of adults are seen with a chaperone.  There are mixed views on how to treat young girls when there is an absolute need for the breast to be examined.   Each is dealt with on a completely individual approach, guided by what is necessary to ease pain or emotional problems.  This is a skill that cannot be taught.

Those under 16 will be accompanied by a parent or guardian.  Between 16 and 18 years, parental consent is needed but the session may be in private.  Over 18 you are deemed to be able to legally complete the form and request treatment in complete privacy unless we feel that you do not understand fully.  If there is any indication that you have not understood, are not legally competent or comprehended fully we will not proceed.   Your safety and well being is paramount.   Fees with effect from 1st May 2024 will be £70 if working full time and £60 if not or are students at the Chi Clinic, services, NHS or carers.