LymphActivist's Site

Dedicated to Lymphedema Patients and the Therapists Who Treat Them

Can I see a Licensed Massage Therapist who is certified in Manual Lymph Drainage Therapy to treat my lymphedema?

Most of the lymphedema therapist training schools offer a 4- or 5-day certification course in manual lymph drainage as well as their 9- to15-day full certification courses in lymphedema treatment. See the schedule of courses on my web site at

I would be very hesitant to recommend a graduate of one of these short courses for a number of reasons, one of which is their lack of training on compression bandaging and lack of training in compression garment fitting.

Another even more important is their lack of medical training on comorbidities which may interact with and perhaps be a contraindication for lymphedema therapy. Lymphedema is being found to be a systemic inflammatory condition and not just a "plumbing problem". It is important for the therapist to be able to work as a team member with the patient's physician on monitoring the interaction of the lymphedema with a patient's other conditions.

A minor, but in my mind important lack, is that they may not be taught about or be required to develop treatment plans, measure progress against goals, and have a "toolkit" of techniques to apply if treatment turns out to be ineffective. This can lead to endless treatment without improvement.

A capable massage therapist should think about investing another year in school for physiology/anatomy and medicine courses and taking a full lymphedema training course before going into business treating lymphedema patients.