Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Having a strong immune system will go a long way in protecting you from various diseases. Therefore, it is necessary to boost it up regularly, especially if you are above 40, so that your body runs like a well-oiled machine. Among the many different ways to ensure that your immune system stays strong is the lymphatic drainage massage.
In recent years, lymphatic drainage massage has seen a surge in its popularity across the globe. But what has made it so widely accepted by people worldwide? Does it live up to its hype? How does it benefit you? How is it performed? Are you the right candidate to get this treatment? We uncover the answers to all these questions and more in our guide to lymphatic drainage massage.
What is the Lymphatic System?
To understand the essence of lymphatic drainage massage, you need to go back a bit and understand the functionality of your lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is an integral part of your immune system. A healthy lymphatic system ensures that your immune system stays operational as well as all the cells in your body are regularly cleaned and nourished. This system comprises of various organs, nodes, vessels, and ducts.
Evident from its name, it drains a special type of fluid called lymph that is transported to your bloodstream with the help of a network of hundreds of lymph nodes. The fluid is made of White Blood Cells (WBC) which help your body fight harmful bacteria and cancer cells. The lymph nodes manufacture the cells that help fight these harmful microorganisms. These nodes can be found in your abdomen, neck, armpit, and groin.
Besides, the lymphatic system is also responsible for removing bodily wastes toxins from bodily tissues.
As you can guess, when the lymphatic system doesn’t function properly, your body can be adversely affected. Sometimes, various health conditions can force the lymph fluid to build up in one particular area and thereby prohibiting its natural flow. This results in swelling of the area (usually arms or legs) where the fluid is stuck. This medical condition is known as lymphedema. It can be caused by infections, injury, surgery, genetic disorders, or cancer treatment that requires the removal of lymph nodes. This is where lymphatic drainage comes to your rescue.
Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage
Lymphatic Drainage is a type of massage that helps in reducing the swelling by improving the circulation of the lymph fluid throughout the lymphatic system. In other words, it stimulates the flow of lymph.
This massage therapy was developed in the 1930s by Danish physicians Emil and Estrid Vodder to treat lymphedema but since then has been adopted to treat the following conditions as well:
- Systemic sclerosis
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Knee or hip surgery
- Orthopedic injuries
- Digestive problems
- Fatigue associated with menopause
Furthermore, it has also been seen from a 2015 systematic review that the symptoms of depression and stiffness in people with fibromyalgia can also be treated more effectively with lymphatic massage than connective tissue massages.
However, the benefits of lymphatic drainage massage are not limited to the medical world only. It has shown promising outcomes when it comes to aesthetic benefits too. It has been incorporated in various beauty regimens as a tool to fight against the following conditions:
- Dull complexion
- Puffy skin
- Skin irritation
- Fine lines
Lymphatic drainage massage has been even regarded as a non-surgical facelift program.
Is Lymphatic Drainage Massage Right for You?
As with any other treatment, prior consultation with a certified medical professional, in this case, a physiotherapist, is important in determining whether a lymphatic massage will suit you or not. In your meeting with the physiotherapist, you should state any allergic reactions or prior injuries, and surgeries that you have sustained and undergone respectively. Based on your assessment, the medical professional will advise you about the steps that you need to follow.
However, speaking on a broader perspective, lymphatic drainage massage should be avoided by people with the following medical conditions:
- Kidney ailments
- Heart failure
- Blood clot
- Circulation problems
The Process of Lymphatic Drainage Massage
As we stated earlier, your first major step involves getting consulted with a physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinic to determine whether your body can undergo this treatment or not.
This treatment primarily involves the application of gentle pressures and light movements that may range anywhere from stroking to pushing, tapping, or rubbing. Next up, the physiotherapist uses his or her fingers and flat hands to gently stretch your skin to facilitate the flow of lymph.
Lymphatic drainage massage done for aesthetic purposes work similarly. The only difference is that it might include some soft brushing movements on your face. When the massage is applied to your whole body, the process is long and can last for an hour. Deep breathing exercises are usually combined with this treatment to stimulate lymphatic circulation.
Take a look at how this massage is performed from the video below.
Lymphatic Drainage Massage at Home
Although it is suggested to seek professional help to perform this massage, you can do a simplified version of it at home. Here’s how:
- First of all, take some deep breathes by resting your palms on your stomach. Keep inhaling until you feel your stomach is pushing into your palms. Next, slowly exhale until your stomach is flat. Repeat this 5-10 times.
- Follow this up by either sitting down or standing at a comfortable place. You may also choose to lie down.
- Apply light pressure on your forehead with your palms and try to gently stretch the skin down towards the lymph nodes in your neck. Move all the way down to your face.
- Use your ring finger to apply a rolling movement under your eyes.
- Repeat the entire process five times in each area.
Your immune system protects you from diseases. So, it should be your priority to ensure that your immune system is healthy. A non-invasive treatment such as the lymphatic drainage massage is possibly the most convenient treatment you can hope for because of its high efficiency. So, consult with the physiotherapy clinic of a trusted medical centre, get yourself examined, and try this treatment to boost your immune system.
To get better results from lymphatic drainage massage, make sure that you drink adequate water. Besides, include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet and minimize the consumption of processed foods. Staying physically active also maximizes the benefits of this treatment.
Michael Földi and Roman Strößenreuther – ScienceDirect – Basic Principles of Manual Lymph Drainage. Available at:
Anne Fiona Williams – ResearchGate – Manual lymphatic drainage: Exploring the history and evidence base. Available at:
Mariana Maia Freire de Oliveira, Maria Salete Costa Gurgel, Bárbara Juarez Amorim, Celso Dario Ramos, Sophie Derchain, Natachie Furlan-Santos, César Cabello dos Santos, and Luís Otávio Sarian – PMC – NCBI – Long term effects of manual lymphatic drainage and active exercises on physical morbidities, lymphoscintigraphy parameters and lymphedema formation in patients operated due to breast cancer: A clinical trial. Available at:
Giampietro L Vairo, Sayers John Miller, Nicole M McBrier, and William E Buckley – PMC – NCBI – Systematic Review of Efficacy for Manual Lymphatic Drainage Techniques in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation: An Evidence-Based Practice Approach. Available at:
Roy O. Weller, Effie Djuanda, Hong-Yeen Yow, and Roxana O. Carare – ResearchGate – Lymphatic drainage of the brain and the pathophysiology of neurological disease. Available at: