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Lymphoedema Service

Coping with a cancer diagnosis and resulting treatment is an emotionally and physically difficult journey for the patient and their family.


Coping with a cancer diagnosis and resulting treatment is an emotionally and physically difficult journey for the patient and their family. Following the removal of lymph nodes and radiation therapy, Secondary Lymphoedema or swelling of the arm affects about 25% of breast cancer patients. Symptoms of Secondary Lymphoedema can include:

  • a feeling of fullness or heaviness
  • tightness and stretching of the skin
  • swelling
  • reduced movement of the joints
  • thickening and dryness of the skin
  • discomfort and/or pain
  • clothing, shoes or jewellery (such as rings or watches) feeling tighter than usual

This condition can cause additional pain, discomfort and anxiety; however, it can also be successfully treated and managed by a non invasive therapy called, Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD). Treatment for Secondary Lymphoedema of the legs and all forms of Primary Lymphoedemas can also be treated by you practitioner.

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What is Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)?

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is a "retraining" of the lymph to make it flow faster and more efficiently. A very gentle, light touch massage is used to treat and control different types of lymphoedema or swelling of an arm, leg or other part of the body due to an abnormal build-up of a fluid called lymph in the body tissues. MLD uses the lymphatic system to cleanse the body, reduce and ease swelling and strengthen the immune system by stimulating the flow of lymph.

The lymphatic system is an important part of the body’s defenses against infection. It is made up of groups of lymph nodes or glands throughout the body, connected by a network of lymphatic vessels. It contains cells which fight infection, transports excess fluid from body tissues and gets rid of waste and bacteria.

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How is MLD used to treat Primary or Secondary Lymphoedema?

MLD therapists treat lymphoedema using Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT); an intensive treatment that combines Manual Lymphatic Drainage, compression garments, exercise and skin care. The therapist uses a range of specialized and gentle rhythmic pumping techniques or the Deep Oscillation device heads  to move the excess fluid into an area with a working lymph vessel system. This stimulates the lymphatic vessels and helps move excess fluid away from the swollen area so that it can drain away normally. The MLD treatment is followed by the fitting of compression garments, to reduce limb size. The therapist will also discuss how to minimize the risk of infection by washing and moisturizing the skin and the importance of regular gentle exercise to encourage efficient lymph flow.

Included or instead of the MLD your practitioner may choose to use Deep Oscillation therapy which has been proven to provide superior results.

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Deep Oscillation®

This therapy is used in The London Breast Clinic (Medical Chambers) for the treatment and management of Swelling, Scars, Seroma, Lymphoedema of the breast, trunk, arm and or hand. The therapy can also be used to treat Lipoedema, sporting injuries, post-surgical healing etc. The gentle, yet effective, electrostatic impulses are delivered through gloved hands or applicators and are clinically proven to permeate an 8cm depth, impacting all tissue layers; including the connective tissue.

Excess biological matter and abnormal lymph fluid buildup are flushed out, resulting in the reduction of swelling and pain, and promoting a better range of movement. DEEP OSCILLATION® is especially effective on stubborn fibrosis and can be used in the pre-operative stage to improve micro-circulation and prepare tissue for incision. It can also be used in the early post-operative stage to boost the rehabilitation process, thereby promoting a dynamic wound healing with smoother and less resultant scar tissue.

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Clinically proven effects and benefits are:

  • Anti- Fibrotic, Anti- Inflammatory, Detoxifying effect
  • Improvement of muscle tone, mobility, tissue quality, and trophicity
  • Reduction in bruising, seroma, haematoma, oedema, pain, skin irritation and scarring
  • Relaxation of muscles and stimulation of a dynamic wound healing.

With Deep Oscillation Therapy, swellings and redness can all be relieved considerably faster following surgical procedures and the therapy can be used post-operatively almost immediately to facilitate faster healing. Pain can also be stopped over a sustained period. Faster regeneration following the surgery also in cases of trauma and neurological indications. These may include Orthopedic, Oncology and Vascular referrals.

Please check with you therapist the contra-indications for use.

Routes to therapy :

The Lymphoedema Practitioner Nicole de Havilland based here at The London Breast Clinic, has over twenty years of experience having worked within an NHS specialist breast unit for over seventeen years. All appointments are to go through the main reception.

Telephone: 020 7563 1234
Clinics are held every Wednesday afternoon 1pm- 6pm and Friday afternoon appointments are also available.

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