Manual Lymphatic Drainage for cosmetic surgery

A few years ago I lived in Dubai.  Not many people (outside of Dubai that is) are aware that Dubai is a bit of a Mecca for cosmetic surgery and injectables.  I worked at a “medical spa” while I was there – it was a essentially a beauty parlour, offering facials, wraps and hair treatments, but it was headed by a doctor who specialised in botox, fillers and slimming treatments.  At the time they didn’t offer any surgeries (they do now).  I offered manual lymphatic drainage.

I often recount a story from my first day at work there – as I was coming down the stairs the doctor gently took my hand and asked me to come back upstairs with her.  Perplexed I said sure and then asked why.  She said “oh, I’m just going to put some filler in here and here and some botox here!”  I was a little taken aback and pointed out that I liked to do things naturally and that I didn’t even colour my hair.  She pulled me to the window and had a good look and said the hair just wouldn’t do and that natural is fine when you’re in your twenties but after that you need help!!!  Holy moley.  What do you say to that?  Well, I ran away as fast as I could and after two or three more attempts on her part I made a deal – I’d wear makeup to work every day and she had to stop asking (and I had a word with the owner of her business on the side too).  I tell the story to lay the background to the normality of cosmetic surgery in Dubai.

I sent letters to a few of the cosmetic surgeons to introduce myself.  Manual lymphatic pre and post cosmetic surgery speeds up healing and enhances the surgeon’s work so it’s a good fit.  I managed to meet a couple of the surgeons, one was very respected and had been in Dubai a long time and the other was newer to the area but he and his brother had pioneered vaser liposuction and so he was interesting as he had a slightly different approach.

I’m going to talk about my experience with the first surgeon.  He was very charismatic and of course looked great.  I went to his office and explained how my work could benefit his patients and he seemed interested.  A couple weeks later he called me to say he had just done a facelift and wanted to send the patient to me to “try me out”.  Sure I said.  He then asked me to do it for free which I refused – can you imagine?  Hello doctor, how about you give me a nose job for free so I can see if you’re any good.  Somehow I don’t think that would ever happen and I didn’t see why I should be expected to work for free.  He accepted that but I conceded that I’d do a reduction on the initial consult.  So he said he’d send her and “oh, I don’t want you to push fluid downwards, I’ve done too much work for you to ruin it”.  I tried to explain that there are no lymph collection vessels on the top of the head and if I directed fluid upwards she’d end up with fluid in wrong place, but there was no telling him. So I decided to just say I’d do it how wanted, but to actually follow the correct procedure with the patient.

In came the patient a couple days later.  She looked pretty good, clearly swollen and bruised but not too bad.  She hadn’t been allowed to wash her hair as yet so that was a bit gruesome.  And the first words out of her mouth?  “The doctor said to remind you to push the fluid upwards”.  Honestly.  He may be a great surgeon, but he knew nothing about the lymphatic system and his arrogance was doing my head in.


photo courtesy google images, breastimplants.com.au

So I started the treatment, clearing the main nodes in her neck, armpits, chest, abdomen and groin area.  Then I went back and cleared her neck thoroughly so I could then start to send fluid DOWNWARDS to the nodes in her neck like I’m supposed to do.  So help me, by the time I finished clearing her neck she was sound asleep, almost snoring, so I was able to happily clear the fluid downwards to her neck without her interjecting about what the surgeon said.  She woke up at the end of the treatment and sat up and commented that some of the numbness had gone as well as some of the tightness from the swelling and she could move her face more.  She was thrilled.

The surgeon called me to say he was happy with how it went and would be ok with her coming for more treatments, but don’t forget … you guessed it “don’t push the fluid downwards”.  Agrhhhh!

He did send more patients to me thank goodness and I never did ‘fess up to him that I didn’t follow his instructions, but basically, in that instance, I knew better.

The moral of the story is, manual lymphatic drainage is beneficial after cosmetic surgery, helping to reduce swelling, bruising and numbness and of course helping to eliminate toxins from the anaesthetic and antibiotics.