Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York incorporates Manual Lymph Drainage into post-mastectomy care

Sarah has sought manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) treatment following mastectomy to try and lessen the likelihood of developing Lymphoedema.



It is reported that Lymphoedema can occur both shortly after breast cancer treatment and months or even years later. It is most commonly observed within the first two years post-treatment, but symptoms can manifest even after several years.

Breast cancer treatments can increase the risk of developing lymphoedema - surgical procedures that involve lymph node removal, such as axillary lymph node dissection or sentinel node biopsy have a higher association with lymphoedema compared to breast-conserving surgery. Radiation therapy to the axillary lymph nodes or chemotherapy can also contribute to the risk. The reported incidence rates of lymphoedema after breast cancer treatment typically range from 15% to 30%.  

Speaking to Hello Magazine, Sarah confirmed  "Lymph drainage is a specialised art, my masseuse is so kind, and she has to be kind to someone who's been through so many cuts. Lymph drainage is so light."

Julie and I recalled the observation of the first study we ever read on Deep Oscillation way back in 1991 - 32 years ago.

Schönfelder G., Berg D. (1991): Side effects after breast-conserving therapy of breast cancer. First results with hivamat. Gynecol. prax. 15, 109-122.

"It is our assumption that the rate of Lymphoedema occurrence following a prophylactic Hivamat Lymph drainage will still be lower, even after 2-3 years. Up to now, Hivamat-supported lymph drainage has shown significant improvements in the results for the following clinical criteria, compared with conventional manual lymph drainage: consistency; pain and disturbances to the sensitivity of the breast operated; skin alterations; arm movement; pain, paresthesias in the arm and/or axilla of the side operated, and lymphoedema"

It's true that many women are now aware of the advantages of MLD and Deep Oscillation in the management and treatment of lymphoedema, but wouldn't it be wonderful if the treatment could be provided as a proactive, early post-operative care pathway too?


Lymphoedema can have a significant impact on individuals who develop the condition. Here are some ways in which lymphoedema can affect the person suffering from it:

1. Swelling and Discomfort: Lymphoedema causes swelling in the affected limb, typically an arm or leg. This swelling can lead to discomfort, heaviness, and a feeling of tightness in the affected area. The person may also experience pain or aching sensations.

2. Functional Limitations: As Lymphoedema progresses, it can interfere with the person's ability to perform everyday activities. The swelling and reduced range of motion may limit their ability to move the affected limb freely, impacting their ability to perform tasks such as dressing, bathing, or engaging in recreational activities.

3. Emotional Impact: Living with Lymphoedema can have emotional consequences. The visible swelling, changes in body image, the impact on physical capabilities, and the need for ongoing management can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, frustration, or even depression and anxiety.

4. Infection Risks: Lymphoedema can increase the risk of skin infections due to the compromised lymphatic system. The swollen tissues are more susceptible to bacteria and other microorganisms, which can lead to cellulitis or other skin-related infections. These infections can cause further discomfort and may require medical intervention.

5. Lifestyle Adaptations: Lymphoedema management often requires the person to make lifestyle modifications. This may include wearing compression garments, participating in regular exercise or specialized therapy, and practicing meticulous skin hygiene. Adapting to these routines and incorporating them into daily life can be challenging for some individuals.

6. Financial Burden: Treating and managing Lymphoedema may incur long-term costs, including the purchase of compression garments (if not on the NHS), therapy sessions, skin care products, or medical consultations. These expenses can place a financial burden on the sufferer and their family.

It's important to note that every individual's experience with lymphoedema can differ, and the severity of symptoms and their impact can vary. Working closely with healthcare professionals, such as lymphoedema therapists or specialized care teams, can help individuals manage the condition effectively and mitigate some of the impacts of lymphoedema on their daily lives.



Where appropriate, self-treatment with deep oscillation can be hugely beneficial as a part of a comprehensive management plan for Lymphoedema.

Here's how it can help:

1. Improved Lymphatic Flow: Deep oscillation therapy creates mechanical vibrations that can penetrate the tissues to an 8cm depth, helping to stimulate lymphatic flow and enhance the drainage of excess fluid from the affected area. This can reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort associated with Lymphoedema.

2. Tissue Mobilization: The mechanical vibrations produced by deep oscillation can help mobilize and soften tissues, promoting tissue flexibility and elasticity. This can aid in the reduction of fibrotic tissue and improve the overall texture of the affected area.

3. Pain Reduction: Lymphoedema can be associated with pain and discomfort. Deep oscillation therapy may help alleviate pain by stimulating sensory nerve endings, providing a soothing effect, and reducing muscle tension in the affected area.

Before considering self-treatment with deep oscillation, PhysioPod advise having a treatment with Deep Oscillation with a trained therapist, they are listed on the MLD Therapist map

If you need help finding a therapist, please drop PhysioPod a line on or call us for a chat on 01159 167 685. Once a successful treatment outcome has been achieved with an MLD Therapist then a DEEP OSCILLATION Personal Basic can be purchased and training on zoom is provided on set up and getting going.