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Health Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage

Health & Wellness
Last Updated May 27, 2021

Health Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage

What did the email reveal to you this morning? If it was a host of new wrinkles or bags under the eyes, it might be a great time for lymphatic drainage treatment. Give yourself, especially your skin, a treat. Read this article to find out the health benefits of lymphatic drainage.

What is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system is the secondary system of circulation in the body with a complex set of tasks. Its major tasks include cleaning and nourishing the cells. Without it, we would not survive long. The lymphatic system is the bridge from the blood circulation to the individual cells. The lymph is the clear fluid that contains the nutrients and oxygen similar to the blood. It comes from the general circulation and is deposited around the cells to keep them nourished. The cells are able to flush out waste and other toxic materials into this fluid. The lymphatic vessel collects the waste and other excess fluid from around cells and transports it back to general circulation. During transport, the lymph nodes filter this waste. It's a one-way trip as there is only one direction the lymph should ever flow – towards the heart and away from the cells.

Apart from the lymph fluid, lymph nodes and lymph vessels, the lymphatic system also consists of the  spleen and thymus which carry the white blood cells, otherwise known as lymphocytes, which are responsible for fighting diseases and infection.

What is the lymphatic system?

What are the Reasons for Poor Lymphatic Flow?

The lymphatic system maintains fluid balance in the body. However, if it's always busy with its janitorial duties, removing waste products and toxins from the blood, it might not notice the fluid leaking from the lymph capillaries and accumulating in the surrounding body tissues. This could lead to fluid retention and swelling, a condition known as lymphoedema.

Poor lifestyle choices are one of the most common causes of an inefficient lymphatic system. However, it may also be caused by surgery, cancer treatments and other reasons. Research shows that diseases affecting the lymphatic system are usually a result of the following:

Poor Diet

Eating foods that are high in sugar, fat, preservatives and chemicals increases congestion in the cells and produces more metabolic wastes for the lymph to collect and filter out. Dehydration may also cause lymphatic congestion which may lead to water retention.

Lack of Exercise 

Regular walking, stretching or running supports lymph flow. If the body doesn't move, the muscles in it cannot push fluid to the lymph nodes to be filtered. 

Bacterial Infections

A skin infection carried by nematodes, a parasitic roundworm, can damage the lymphatic system and cause lymphatic system disorders like lymphatic filariasis or elephantiasis. This type of disease can be passed on to you if you get bitten by a mosquito who has previously bitten an infected host.


The swelling of a pregnant woman's feet and legs is usually a result of water retention due to lack of movement. Some pregnant women may have medical conditions, but majority of the cases do not point to any pathological cause.

Surgery and Other Cancer Treatments

The removal of certain lymphatic glands as part of a cancer treatment can cause lymphoedema. Radiotherapy can also potentially damage the lymphatic system.

Trauma and Injury

A direct trauma to the lymphatic system due to accident or injury can cause the soft tissues to swell. 

What is a Lymphatic Drainage Massage? 

What is lymphatic drainage massage?The lymphatic system influences all parts of the body because no matter what the purpose of each cell, they all still need cleaning and nourishing.

An efficient lymphatic system is important in immunity, inflammation and healing in general. Lymphatic drainage is one of the ways in achieving that efficiency. Lymphatic drainage massage is a type of massage that balances the fluids in the body, improves blood flow and supports the development of immune cells. Massage therapists who specialise in this manual therapy employ light pressure. It's nothing like deep tissue massage that works into the deep layers of the fascial connective tissues. A lymphatic drainage massage session will involve a series of gliding, stretching and compressing techniques that are totally relaxing.

During a massage session, the therapist only works with the superficial layer of the skin to open the lymph vessels and allow stagnant fluid around the body tissues to flow back into the lymph nodes for filtration before returning to the circulation system.

What are the Benefits of a Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage offers a host of benefits that make it worth including in your wellness routine. It enhances the body's detoxification process, which in turn improves skin and digestive health. If you've never tried it before, here are some of the numerous benefits that you can reap from a session of lymphatic drainage massage. 

  • Get clearer and fair complexion. It also lessens the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and puffiness around the eyes. The appearance of new scars can be minimized and old scar tissues can be reduced. It is commonly used before and after a cosmetic surgery.
  • It eliminates sluggishness brought about by starchy, high-fat foods and lack of exercise by directing the toxins in the body to the organs that are responsible for excreting them. 
  • It treats sinus congestion that causes headaches and discomfort. Once tissue is decongested, blocked fluid and blood flow improve, reducing discomfort and pain.
  • Drains body tissue and reduces inflammation, which expedites healing after an injury or a surgery and increases range of motion. 
  • Prevents fluid retention during and after pregnancy. Lymphatic drainage can bring comfort to pregnant mums, especially in their legs and feet. It also enhances breastfeeding as it resolves problems concerning sore, tight breasts or blocked ducts.
  • Reduce swellings after long periods of immobility. Some conditions, such as arthritis, often have joints that are congested with fluid. Lymphatic drainage helps in reducing these fluids.
  • Because it is a gentle treatment, it is very relaxing. Moreover, the cleansing and rejuvenating effects of lymphatic drainage helps relieve stress.
  • Prevents the formation of blood clots in the blood vessels or congestive heart failure, which almost always leads to lymphoedema.
  • It is an effective treatment for pain relief.

Most people will notice significant improvements in their level of general wellbeing after a treatment because lymphatic drainage has many health benefits. Keep yourself looking and feeling in tip-top shape with a regular session.

Learn more about the lymphatic system & lymphatic drainage by consulting with a lymphatic drainage massage therapist in your area.

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Originally published on Mar 28, 2018

FAQs About Lymphatic Drainage

How do you give yourself a lymphatic drainage massage?

A lymphatic drainage massage strengthens the immune system by moving excess fluid through the body. To perform a self-massage, lie flat on your back and work on your lymph nodes located just above the collarbone.
rnGently stretch the skin downwards to stimulate the fluid underneath it. Next, place one hand on your head then rub the underarm area from top to bottom with the other hand to work up the skin. After this, gently pull the skin inside the elbow. It's important to apply gentle pressure as the goal of a lymphatic drainage massage is to release fluid trapped underneath the skin.

Can lymphatic drainage make you sick?

After receiving a lymphatic drainage massage, you may feel nauseous, weak and thirsty. This is a result of the removal of trapped fluids from the body's tissues.

How often should I have a lymphatic drainage massage?

There are no clear-cut rules when it comes to lymphatic drainage massage. The frequency of your massages depends on the state of your body and what you wish to achieve.
rnIf you're physically active, attending two to four sessions a month is good enough to maintain a strong immune system. However, if you're suffering from lymphoedema, have a poor immune system or want to lose weight, you would want to visit your therapist more often.

How long does a lymphatic drainage massage last?

On average, a lymphatic drainage massage lasts for about 45 minutes to an hour. However, this may vary depending on the condition that is being treated.

Where can I get a lymphatic drainage massage?

Several massage clinics offer lymphatic drainage massage but it's important to only trust a certified lymphatic drainage therapist. This person has gained qualifications in an accredited course and taken extensive training in lymphatic drainage.

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