Does Lymphatic Drainage Massage Actually Work? Experts Weigh In
5 minutes read
Lymphatic drainage is an ancient massage technique that received a recent resurgence in the modern wellness world thanks to personal anecdotes on social and rave reviews from celebrities and influencers. Its health claims? Many: from flushing out toxins, depuffing and glowing skin, to banishing belly bloat promising sculpted physique. But is it all hype?
We investigated with top specialists, starting from what lymphatic drainage massage is, how it works, and the wide range of benefits – if done correctly.
What is the lymphatic system?
Before we get lost in medical jargon, let’s do a crash bio course on the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is part of our body’s immune system. Experts also call it our body’s ‘sewerage system’ because of its ability to flush out metabolic cellular waste and toxins from our bodies. It plays a vital role in fighting bacteria and destroying old or abnormal cells such as cancer cells.
It works similarly to the blood circulatory system. Like the arteries and veins that carry blood, the lymphatic system has lymph vessels and lymph nodes that carry a colourless liquid, called lymph, to the lymphatic system tubes. Lymphatic vessels are tiny, and they’re in our skin.
However, unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump, so it needs a little help to keep the flow going.
Lymph fluid can build up and cause swelling if it is not drained somehow. This is where the lymphatic drainage massage comes in handy, as it helps to speed up the removal of waste and toxins from the body.
How do lymphatic drainage massages work?
It uses a light and gentle rhythmic and specific technique to stimulate the lymphatic system to move fluid around the body more effectively, ensuring they don’t get clogged anywhere.
Some professional wellness centres, such as Clarins Spa, offer a wide range of lymphatic drainage body and facial treatments that give desired results. Clarins was born in a spa treatment room in 1954. No wonder it has perfected massage techniques and usage of essential oils for every need.
Massage therapists adapt their movements and hand pressure to stimulate microcirculation and lymphatic drainage using different massage techniques, including stretching, compressing, gliding, and cupping motions.
Lymphatic drainage massage benefits
Does lymphatic drainage massage help with weight loss?
Don’t get your hopes up if your primary goal is to shed off some weight. Experts say that actual fat loss isn’t happening, but lymphatic drainage massage may help reduce water retention and bloat, which may have a temporary visual slimming effect. In addition, you will feel lighter and appear firm when your lymphatic system is working correctly.
Professional face results: Reduced puffiness, toned and firm skin, a release of any tension in the face, healthy, rested glow.
Word of caution: While most people can benefit from a lymphatic drainage massage, however, those who have an infection or inflammation in the swollen area, a blood clot, heart problems and cancer are advised to speak to a healthcare provider first.
DIY lymphatic drainage massage for face
Charlotte McHale, Clarins Training Manager shares a DIY lymphatic drainage facial:
Post cleanse, while skin is still damp, apply a few drops of oil to the face and neck, avoiding the eye area.
“Roll hands out from the face like a peekaboo movement (the kind you do when hiding from a baby) you want the cushions at the top and the bottom of your hands to bridge over the eye socket.
Roll several times outwards in that area and slowly move down the face. We’re always aiming outwards here. This movement helps to contour deeper, depuff and detoxify the face.
Since you’ve got lymph nodes behind your ears, all movements on the face should be in an outward direction, towards these nodes. As you reach the bottom of your face, take the three fingers of each hand and use circular movements to gently massage the back of the jaw area (where you feel the jaw muscle). Many people get tension in the jaw caused by anxiety or if you grind your teeth at night. At your temple, also use rotating movements to help alleviate tension headaches, stress and anxiety.”
“To finish, we’re going to do one more peekaboo movement and then take a deep breath. As you breathe in, roll your shoulders back and stretch up to the ceiling and big exhale to finish.”
Clarins Training Manager Rachel Masih also recommends doing “lymphatic drainage facial massage when applying Double Serum or eye creams. When done religiously, at-home facials can sculpt, lift, and stimulate the muscles in your face to promote a more youthful appearance.”
DIY lymphatic drainage massage for the body
For pregnant women, McHale recommends doing a DIY lymphatic drainage massage using Contour Treatment Oil to soothe swollen ankles and feet. “Sweeping from the ankles up, moving towards the heart.” You’re going to help to improve the lymphatic drainage and get rid of excess water-swollen ankles and legs, making you feel less heavy and tired and giving you more comfort.”
If you want to reduce the appearance of cellulite, you can use the tonic oil or body fit for the massage. Clarins spa experts suggest a specific application method that increases lymphatic drainage, helping control edema, which is the first stage of cellulite. Apply with light, sweeping motions, moving upward from ankles to waist. Concentrate on areas of concern like the waist, hips, thighs, buttocks, and arms. Do it three or four times a week at home.
Lymph drainage exercises
Experts say you can stimulate your lymph movement by engaging in physical activities adequately, such as walking, swimming, yoga, pilates and Tai chi. Pelvic floor exercises may also help.
Why not try a relaxing 30-minute ritual as a meditative way to wind down a few times a week before bedtime or after a week of work.
Let us know how it goes for you!