Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

A lymphatic drainage massage can be instrumental in reducing swelling and inflammation in the body which is caused by the fluid buildup. Read on to know more about the lymphatic massage benefits.

By URLife Team
01 Mar 2024

If you’re a regular user of Instagram, chances are that you’ve scrolled past at least a few reels talking about the merits of using jade rollers and gua shas. The circular motions, the repeated moves to move fluid away from the face, in simpler terms, what they’re doing is known as lymphatic drainage. Many celebrities, influencers and wellness personalities have sworn that this method has helped them flush out toxins from their bodies and extra fluid causing inflammation. But, you might be thinking, is it legit? Who actually benefits from this??


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Lymphatic drainage is usually ignored and misunderstood in the wellness world. In simpler words, lymphatic massage is a stress relieving and knot releasing gentle massage that can break down fat, smooth out cellulite, and may boost immunity. Here, we are talking about not just any regular massage, rather a manual lymphatic drainage massage which is intended to detoxify the body with the right level of pressure and skillful techniques.


Related story: Here’s How You Can Give Yourself Lymphatic Drainage Face Massage At Home

What is Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage, is a crucial part of the body's immune response, consisting of a series of vessels and organs beneath the skin, functioning similar to a waste disposal system which eliminates toxins and bacteria. According to a 2023 study in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, by applying gentle massage strokes, manual lymphatic drainage helps in directing the lymph fluid towards regions with functional lymphatic vessels, aiding in the efficient processing and removal of bodily waste. This technique can be particularly beneficial for individuals whose lymphatic function is impaired due to surgery, illness, or injury.


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How Does Lymphatic Drainage Massage Work?

Cells in our body are dependent on lymph fluid to flush toxins out of the system. So, if the lymphatic system is blocked, it can directly affect an individual’s immunity. As per a 2023 report in the National Library of Medicine, lymphatic fluid consists of mainly white-blood cells and is constantly moving. When its movement is prevented due to any reason, stuck fluid can build up in the pathways creating swellings. The most apparent signs of a compromised lymphatic system or lymphatic obstruction appear in the limbs. If you notice your rings becoming tighter or your clothes fitting more snugly, it may indicate that you're retaining excess fluid. Additionally, this condition can be accompanied by discomfort and a sensation of heaviness.


Under normal circumstances, the lymphatic system is responsible for gathering lymph fluid and returning it to the heart via a network of lymph vessels and nodes. Certified therapists often perform manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) to address this swelling by gently guiding the lymph fluid from the affected tissues towards operational lymph nodes. Unlike traditional massage techniques that apply firm pressure, manual lymphatic drainage uses gentle strokes to stimulate the lymphatic system located just below the skin.


Manual lymphatic drainage is performed following a specific protocol that begins with the body's primary drainage points, including the lymph nodes located in the neck, groin, and armpits. The idea behind this approach is to massage areas without swelling first, thereby creating a vacuum effect that pushes the movement of congested lymph fluid towards these cleared pathways.


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Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

The primary advantage of lymphatic drainage massage lies in its ability to decrease swelling associated with lymphedema. Beyond this, although less frequently, it can also aid in alleviating stiffness, swelling, and various other symptoms.


1. Reduces Bloating and Puffiness

Fluid retention is a common issue that can cause swelling in various parts of the body, leading to discomfort and a bloated appearance. Lymphatic drainage massage assists in alleviating this by guiding excess fluid towards the lymph nodes for elimination, often resulting in a sensation of lightness and increased energy. This is particularly beneficial for those experiencing the discomfort in legs.


2. Diminishes Cellulite and Fat Deposits

Through specialised techniques, a lymphatic drainage massage can target areas affected by cellulite, potentially smoothing the appearance of the skin over time. Additionally, this method may aid in breaking down fat cells, with some individuals reporting accelerated weight loss as a benefit. According to a 2022 study issued in the Advances in Dermatology And Allergology, lymphatic massage techniques have been found to aid in reducing cellulite in individuals who have undergone thigh liposuction.


3. Enhances Skin Radiance

The act of massaging boosts blood circulation, not only enhancing the glow of the skin on the body but also potentially making the facial skin appear more radiant. This improved circulation is a key factor in achieving a healthier, more luminous complexion.


4. Reduces Post-Injury Swelling

Injuries, especially those related to intense physical activity, can lead to increased swelling due to impaired fluid circulation in the affected area. A lymphatic drainage massage can help alleviate this excess puffiness by promoting the removal of fluid via the lymphatic system.


5. Improves Post-Liposuction Recovery

Following procedures like liposuction, CoolSculpting, or EMSculpt Neo, lymphatic drainage massage can play a crucial role in enhancing the sculpted outcomes by reducing swelling and promoting smoother recovery. It's important to consult with your healthcare provider regarding the timing of massage after such treatments.


6. Relieves Bodily Tension

Beyond its physical health benefits, lymphatic drainage massage offers a deeply relaxing experience. The gentle, sweeping motions combined with the stimulation of lymph flow can significantly relieve tension throughout the body, making it an excellent choice for those seeking both physical and mental relaxation.


7. Helps To Ease Stiffness

Lymphatic drainage massage treatments have been beneficial for people suffering from fibromyalgia as they have experienced reduced pain and fatigue. According to a 2018 review issued in the Nature Review Rheumatology, lymphatic massage may help relieve stiffness, swelling, or joint pain related to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


Lymphatic drainage massage is beneficial for stimulating the movement of lymphatic fluid throughout the body, especially when there's a buildup in the lymphatic system. This technique involves gently applying pressure towards the lymph nodes to manually encourage the clearing of lymphatic fluid through the lymph vessels and its reabsorption through the lymph nodes. While certified lymphatic therapists typically perform lymphatic massage, they can also instruct individuals on how to perform it at home.


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