During a treatment session, one or more leeches are placed on the body in locations specific to the medical issue. Some patients report feeling a small pinch; others describe the feeling as similar to a mosquito bite. This is when the leech “hooks on.”
Leeches will not hook on, by the way, if you have recently eaten garlic or if you have lotion or perfumes on your body so keep this mind when you come to your session.
There is a rhythmic pulling sensation as the leech begins feeding. In some cases the leech is removed in 2 minutes, in other cases, it may be left on for an hour and a half or until the leech naturally releases.
What the leech removes is approximately 30% blood and 70% toxins.
How deep do the leeches penetrate? They open your skin and go as deep as 1 1/2 milliliters.
The mark left behind looks like a three-pronged mark, something like the Mercedes automobile insignia. The mark fades away with time. We will wrap the treatment areas with a bandage.
Following treatment, there may be wound secretions. The fluid is typically blood, lymph, and a pus-like substance. It will very likely be dark in color. Most oozing occurs within 6 to 12 hours, however occasionally one might continue for up to 36 hours. It depends on the individual – the viscosity of your blood and how quiet you remain.
If you a more prolific discharger, then you may need to put a second bandage over the bandage we put on immediately after treatment. On the day of treatment, do not remove the first bandage, just apply a second. Stay quiet for the rest of the day and it is recommended that you do not go to work the following day.
Drink lots of water, or your choice of cranberry juice, blackcurrant juice, pomegranate juice, tomato juice, or coconut juice/water. Avoid alcohol. Please eat well and healthfully.
The day after treatment, you may take a shower and you can use 3% hydrogen peroxide (commonly sold in drug stores) to wipe and disinfect the area. Do not use rubbing alcohol. Cover the treatment area(s) with a small bandage in the event you continue to discharge.
You may experience slight swelling, itching, and superficial bruising. Itching is generally controlled with cold moist wraps or lemon juice – squeeze 1/2 of a lemon into 3 cups of water, dip a wash cloth in it and apply to the wound area. You can take Claritin or Benadryl (best in liquid form) if necessary for itching.
Do not touch the wound. Keep a bandage in place as long as there is oozing.
It is important to avoid scratching the area as it delays healing. Localized inflammation is relatively uncommon, however it can occur.
You might notice a temporary enlargement of the lymph nodes. This is part of the detoxification process and will go away on its own.
You might feel tired and sleepy, or energetic and vigorous. All of these reactions are common and normal.
Activities that cannot be performed on the day of a hirudotherapy session and for 48 hours after a session:
- physical therapy and/or massage, especially deep-tissue massage and/or lymphatic drainage
- aromatherapy, acupressure
- intensive swimming
After 2 days, resume normal activities unless you have been advised otherwise.
If you have any questions, call us at 480-621-6041.
Leeches are not re-used. Think of the leech as a needle – use once and discard. They are humanely put to their final rest in alcohol and we thank them for their service.