If you are at risk for lymphedema or have existing swelling it is important to establish a relationship with a certified lymphatic therapist. The standard for lymphedema therapy for when there is a presence of swelling is called Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT). Since the lymphatic system and any impairment to it is unique to each patient, CDT is will vary from patient to patient, including the rigor of therapy and the techniques used. CDT often includes Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) message, wrapping in bandages, compression garment wear, lymphatic breathing/exercises, and an introduction to a lymphedema self-care routine.
If you are at risk for secondary lymphedema, your therapist will work with you to establish baseline measurements. They may take physical measurements or use a bioimpedance device to track changes in the extracellular fluid which can help identify and diagnose lymphedema sooner. The therapist may also go over risk reduction practices and schedule regular intervals to continue monitoring the affected area for signs of swelling. At this point, the goal of lymphedema therapy is to reduce the chance of swelling and to identify any swelling as early as possible.
Finding a Certified Lymphedema Therapist
The Lymphology Association of North America (LANA) provides a standard of certification for lymphedema care for healthcare practitioners. A CLT-LANA certified therapist must have completed at least 135 hours of lymphedema training from a qualified school and must pass a LANA certification exam. They must also continue their lymphatic education to be recertified.
Find a CLT-LANA certified therapist here: https://www.clt-lana.org/search/therapists/
There are several reputable educational institutions that certify therapists to treat lymphedema patients. Not all graduates of these schools choose to be a LANA Certified Therapist (CLT-LANA). To find a therapist that has graduated these programs you may use the school directories which can be found below.
Dr. Vodder School International
Dr. Vodder School International therapists have been trained in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) and Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD) and have either attended a therapy update course or completed their training within the past two years and are up-to-date with the most current methods available.
Find a Vodder School therapist here: https://www.vodderschool.com/ (Scroll below "Courses" to "Find A Professional").
Klose Training offers a 135-hour course that teaches the skills and knowledge necessary to safely and effectively treat patients with lymphedema using Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) and Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD).
Find a Klose Training therapist here: https://klosetraining.com/therapist-directory/
Academy of Lymphatic Studies (ACOLS)
ACOLS offers a 135-hours certification training for medical professionals to successfully treat and manage lymphedema featuring Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) and Manual Lymph Drainage (MLD).
Find an ACOLS therapist here: https://www.acols.com/find-therapist/
MLD Institute International
The MLD Institute International provides certification and continuing education to massage and medical professionals in MLD (Manual Lymph Drainage) massage.
Find an MLD Institute International graduate here: http://www.mldinstitute.org/find-a-mld-therapist-directory/
MLD Institute International graduates are certified in Manual Lymph Drainage massage only and may not be Certified Lymphedema Therapists (CLTs) trained in Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT), please check the credentials of each specific therapist for details.