Are all Registered Massage Therapists trained in Breast Massage?

In Ontario all RMTs are trained in breast massage as part of their 2200 hour program.  Registered Massage Therapy is regulated by the province of Ontario under the ‘Regulated Health Professions Act’ (RHPA), and the ‘Massage Therapy Act’.  Breast Massage falls under this regulation.  Not all therapists choose to incorporate breast work into their practice.  Additional training is available at a graduate level for those therapists wishing to learn more about this treatment area.  

What happens in my initial appointment?

We go over your health history information and discuss treatment options including draping preferences.  This is following by a treatment in the upper body that introduces you to this work.

Is breast massage included in my first treatment?

I suggest that our first treatment not include breast work.  I encourage clients to be comfortable with me as a therapist first, and to consider all the treatment options that we will discuss.  Some clients may need a few sessions to establish trust.  There is no hurry, and in the meantime we can do valuable work in the surrounding areas.  This gives you time to determine if I am the right fit for you.  We begin to incorporate breast work into the treatments after all of your questions have been answered, you feel that you understand all aspects of the treatment plan, and you have given your consent to treat.  If your comfort level changes on a certain day, or even while you are receiving your treatment, we can modify the plan accordingly at any time. 

What are the draping choices for breast massage?

There are various draping options available for this work.  Draping is a comfort issue and your preference will always be respected.  Breasts can be treated either draped or undraped.  Treatment can be done through the sheet, while wearing a light cotton t-shirt, around a towel that drapes the breasts, or with one breast undraped at a time.  Certain techniques require undraping to achieve maximum results such as treatment for scar tissue.  Draping options always involve your consent and your preference can change over time.  

Are there parts of the breast that are not treated?

Yes, the areola (darker area around the nipple) and the nipple is not touched or treated.

Is breast massage painful?

It depends on the health of the breast tissue and the surrounding areas.  Sometimes there is tenderness present during breast work, at other times there is not.  Any tenderness is manageable and generally not any greater than the symptoms a client feels to begin with.  When breasts are tender there is usually congestion present.  As the treatment progresses and the circulation improves, any discomfort quickly dissipates.  Breast tissue responds very quickly to treatment, and within one session clients can feel a significant difference.  When breast massage is requested for symptom-free breasts, breast work is very relaxing.       

It is important to note that breast pain can also be a symptom of a musculoskeletal cause, or pain referral from outside of the breast tissue.  Several muscles and fascial structures in the breast region are involved in postural problems, conditions of circulatory and neural compression, lymphatic dysfunction, and pain referral.  For this reason, a breast treatment always includes treatment of these surrounding structures.  The breast itself has no muscular tissue but is largely made up of fascia.  Fascia is densely concentrated with receptors and nerve endings which can transmit pain when restricted or adhered.  Each session reduces this restriction if it is present, thereby improving circulation and decreasing existing pain.  Breast work is gentle and involves a lot of General Swedish Massage and manual lymph drainage.

Is it safe to have massage therapy during my cancer treatment?

Massage therapy treatments are modified during a patient’s cancer diagnosis and course of medical treatment.  This is done on a case-by-case basis.  Factors to consider include the type of cancer present, the type of medical treatment involved, a patient’s symptoms during the course of their cancer treatment, the patient's level of physical activity, the opinion of the patient’s doctor, and the timing of massage sessions.  The benefits of receiving massage therapy during cancer treatment are numerous.  They include symptom relief caused by radiation, chemotherapy, and/or surgery, pain reduction/control, lessening of the musculoskeletal effects, improved ability to manage stress and anxiety, improved quality of scarring and the discomforts associated with scarring, and time spent in a safe and nurturing environment.