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Self Lymphatic Drainage (SLD)

Self-Lymphatic Drainage (SLD) can be a helpful tool in the successful management of Lymphoedema.


The hand movements may seem similar to a massage but with the intention of moving fluid away from obstructed areas to the lymph nodes, where it can be drained away by emptying them.

The technique used here is based on ‘filling’ the nodes and ‘flushing’ oedema away, this is called the ‘Fill and Flush’™ method.

Our SLD leaflets are designed to demonstrate a sequence that your therapist can work through with you.


The steps may seem repetitive because it is important that you keep returning to empty the nodes.
It may appear daunting at first, but practicing will make it easier!

The information leaflets are available in the following treatment areas:
Upper Limb Oedema

Lower Limb Oedema

Head & Neck Oedema

Breast Oedema


  • Only carry out this treatment if you have been advised to do so by your therapist or GP. Always speak to your therapist if you are unsure.

  • Work through the steps with your therapist so that you understand the process. Read through all the information and familiarise yourself with the sequences.

  • The pressure should be enough to stretch the skin but not cause redness or pain. All movements are to the count of 4 seconds and your hand position should stay in contact with the skin. Ask your therapist to demonstrate the correct pressure and speed.

  • SLD should be on bare skin or on top of a compression garment, you should not use cream or oils on the skin.

  • Follow the steps in order and complete the sequence fully.

  • This is for general guidance, use the diagrams as appropriate with the affected/unaffected limb.

  • We recommend initially carrying out the SLD 4-5 times daily, reducing the frequency as your lymphoedema improves - hopefully to just once a week!

Did you know… You can use a specialist LymphBall™ to help you carry out your SLD.
These are perfect to empty your lymph nodes easily and effectively.

Our LymphBall™ is specially selected to have the correct tension, are CE marked and are suitable for patient use. 

Tip… If you don’t have a LymphBall™ you can use a rolled-up flannel or even a pair of socks!

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