Original Article| Volume 130, ISSUE 5, P478-485, November 2020

The effect of manual lymphatic drainage on patient recovery after orthognathic surgery—A qualitative and 3-dimensional facial analysis


      The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) on postoperative facial swelling and pain.

      Study Design

      A randomized, single-center, prospective, 2-arm clinical trial with blinded endpoint assessment was set up. Patients were enrolled from the Maxillofacial Department of the Ghent University Hospital (Belgium) between January 2015 and March 2018. Both the intervention group (n = 13) and the control group (n = 13) received the same postoperative care; in addition, the intervention group underwent 6 sessions of MLD after orthognathic surgery. Three-dimensional facial scans were performed and questionnaires administered on postoperative days 3, 7, 14, 30, 90, and 180. A linear mixed model was performed, and statistical significance was assumed at the 5% level.


      In total, 26 patients (mean age 29 years; range 16–57 years) were included for statistical analysis. A faster decrease in swelling in the intervention group was observed on 3-dimensional scans. Furthermore, patients receiving MLD reported reduction in swelling and pain within the first month after surgery. However, no statistically significant difference could be detected in these observations (P > .05).


      Within the limitations of this study, no statistically significant difference could be found between patients treated with or without MLD after orthognathic surgery with regard to swelling and pain.
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