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Most of the clients treat have secondary lymphoedema associated with surgery and/or lymph node clearance, e.g.lumpectomy, mastectomy, hysterectomy. The remainder have primary lymphoedema, a congenital abnormality of the lymphatic system, all different stages in the process of coming to terms with the fact that lymphoedema is a chronic condition with major implications for lifestyle and self-image.

The Vodder MLD is an extremely light massage, which moves only the skin. This action moves the lymph before it enters the lymph vessels, enabling the redirection of lymph to the existing and functioning lymph nodes. Clients with lymphoedema are not recommended to have the style of massage usually associated with aromatherapy. Massage of this type requires the application of pressure in order to relax the muscles.

This stimulates the blood flow, dilates the blood vessels and creates warmth. It also temporarily increases the size of the body and the closure of the superficial lymph vessels, which usually beneficial aspects of massage are not helpful to the lymphoedema sufferer.

They would most likely feel bloated, tight, uncomfortable and there maybe a risk of psychological damage. 

The lymphoedema limb requires special care to prevent cellulitis which is systemic and can be severe; the symptoms are similar to those of influenza. The limb becomes fiery red and painful, and hospitalisation is often necessary, requiring treatment with intravenous antibiotics. Clients are advised to avoid any cuts to the skin where bacteria or virus can enter.

Emphasis is placed on moisturising the skin, protecting it with clothing and avoiding direct heat of any type. Gentle exercise and the wearing of compression garments are advocated to control and prevent any increase of the lymphoedema.

To complement the MLD treatment, I suggest clients use aromatherapy without massage, e.g. vaporisers, baths, showers application of creams, or lotion, compresses, on tissues ect.- aromatherapy can assist with care of the limbs and the psychological aspects of living with this chronic condition.Initially I try to keep to the simple economical oils, giving straight forward instructions to ease the introduction of yet another new aspect to client`s lives.

Essential oils with a wide application

Cuts and sores:     

Lavendula angustifolia (lavender)direct onto the skin;cover with dressing;antiviral, bacterial.

Fungal episodes:  

Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree); foot bath application; anitfugal, antiviral.

Post leg waxing:  

L.angustifolia solution either in water or almond oil direct onto the skin ;anti-inflammatory,antiviral and antibacterial

Post radiation: 

L.angustifolia and/or Pelargonium graveolens (geranium): In water/almond oil.

Depending on the skin tolerance, spray  rub on to the skin, promotes skin regeneration; anti-inflammatory, uplifting.


Citrus (bergamot); in burner or tissue, to lift the spirits, relieve anxiety and tension; antiviral. Prevention of Colds, ect     

Eucalyptus globulus/smithii (eucalyptus),Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) and Melaleuca alternifolia: in a burner or on tissue; morning use-rosemary particularly; evening-eucalyptus, tea tree and /or lavender; builds up the immune system.

Disrupted sleep:  

L.angustafolia: on a pillow or tissue or in a burner before retiring to bed; promotes calm and peaceful sleep 

Reference:Aromatherapy World 1998

 Author: Avril Lunken DIP COT .,MISPA (Vodder)

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