Complete Decongestive Therapy

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) is a comprehensive treatment program for lymphedema patients, and is sometimes considered the gold standard for treating lymphedema.  CDT includes the following components:

  • Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD)
  • Bandaging/compression garments
  • Exercise
  • Patient eduction, including self-care and management

Manual Lymphatic Drainage

One of the most effective methods of treating lymphedema is the use of a technique known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage.  Manual Lymphatic Drainage (or MLD) is a gentle type of therapy typically used to drain excess fluid buildup from the body and improve the overall functioning of the lymphatic and immune system.  MLD is most commonly used in the treatment of lymphedema.


The massage used is a specific massage technique and is applied gently in the direction of the flow of lymphatic fluid through the lymphatic system, allowing excess fluid to be transported as waste from the body.  The MLD massage is applied as a light form of circular massage to the patient’s skin, and no massage lotions or oils are used in order for the therapy to be effective.  The technique encourages skin stretch and stimulates the lymph vessels to increase movement of lymphatic fluid through the body.

MLD massage should only be applied by a therapist who is trained and specialized in the technique.  Ann has extensive experience with the technique and is certified through Toronto Lymphocare Centre’s Integrated Lymph Drainage Training Program.