Healthy Living

I Tried a Lymphatic Drainage Massage—Here’s What Happened

written by KEELY GEIST

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Source: Leandro Crespi | Stocksy
Source: Leandro Crespi | Stocksy

Full disclosure: I am a sucker for any wellness, beauty, and health trend I find on Instagram. From CBD to celery juice to B12 shots, I’ve tried it all (and if I haven’t yet, I probably plan to). There have been ones that are now incorporated into my approaches to beauty and wellness. There have also been ones that I could definitely live without. Over the past few months, I have noticed an increase in influencers, bloggers, and models getting lymphatic drainage massages to detoxify their bodies. Honestly, I was skeptical at first that a massage could do all that it claimed to help with. After contemplating it for a while and doing my research, I finally decided to give it a try. Keep reading to learn more about what a lymphatic drainage massage is and if it could benefit you.


Why I Tried It

I made an appointment at a local massage and healing center near me, making sure beforehand that the masseuse was proficient in lymphatic drainage massages. Before the massage, I discussed with her some of the issues I was having, and she explained how this treatment would help. The biggest reason I went in was that I suffer from chronic back pain from a prior sports injury that flares up a few times a year, making it hard to stand and walk. She went over what to expect and we talked about the method she uses.


What does the lymphatic system do?

The lymphatic system consists of lymph vessels, ducts, nodes, and other tissues and is located underneath the skin. Think of its function kind of like the garbage disposal of the body (gross analogy, I know): It gets rid of “waste” in the body, whether it’s toxins, bacteria, or excess fluid. The lymph is a collection of the extra fluid that moves through the arteries and tissues to clean them out before draining them through the lymphatic system.

However, there is no pump to push the lymph through the body, and it relies on our muscle action to maintain fluid movement. Therefore, any kind of manual “drainage” (I know, so much imagery about that garbage disposal) is said to work by moving the lymph to the lymph nodes to eliminate the toxins and bacteria. While there is some controversy around the massage style, this system is crucial to the body’s health, and stimulating it through methodical massage could have many benefits.


woman performing lymphatic massage on face

Source: Mathilde Langevin | Unsplash


What is a lymphatic drainage massage?

A lot more people are incorporating this massage into their health and wellness routines. You can find directions online on how to give yourself a lymphatic drainage massage at home, but I recommend going to a licensed therapist who is trained in lymphatic drainage massages for a proper treatment.

A lymphatic drainage massage uses very light pressure and long, rhythmic strokes that get the lymph fluid moving and directs the toxins into the organs that can properly remove them. A trained practitioner’s hands can simply apply pressure to re-stimulate the natural contractions of the lymphatic system. This will move the stagnant fluid back into the natural lymph flow of the body.


What are the benefits?

The relaxing practice is often used to treat acne, cellulite, digestive issues, puffiness, stress, inflammation, insomnia, migraines, and certain health complications, but that’s not all. People love lymphatic drainage massages to:

  • Fight off infection
  • Speed up healing and recovery from the cold and flu
  • Reduce water retention
  • Boost weight loss
  • Improve cellulite, skin swelling, scar tissue, acne, and stretch marks
  • Reduce stress and fatigue
  • Help with post-exercise recovery


Source: Content Pixie | Unsplash


When should I do it?

Everyone can benefit from getting a lymphatic drainage massage with the change of the seasons. This is because with each season, we are eating different foods, our level of activity is changing, and the change in weather can affect the body’s internal processes. When you’re feeling extra bloated would be a great time to receive the treatment, as it helps reduce water retention.

Bottom line: Every body is different, so if you suffer from any of the listed symptoms and feel like a lymphatic drainage massage would help, I suggest meeting with a trained professional to discuss a schedule that would be good for your body. You can also DIY in the comfort of your own home using a dry brush, tool, or just your hands as a relaxing ritual before bed or as a practice to keep you calm and energized throughout the day.


My Experience

The initial process of the massage is just like any other massage: You get undressed and lay on a heated table. After that, don’t expect your usual deep tissue massage—it’s nothing like that. My masseuse used light, repetitive strokes, focusing on my arms, armpits, stomach, back, and legs. When the massage was over, I rested and drank a lot of water as I was directed to.

A couple of days after the massage, I felt like I had an extra pep in my step. I was able to work out with no pain and my body felt like it was given a boost of energy. I noticed that the water weight around my midsection had gone down, and I was no longer bloated. Overall, it felt like the inflammation in my body was gone, and I felt like my body was finally in a comfortable, content state that moved with ease. I’m not saying this massage was the answer to all my problems, but I will definitely be adding it to my health routine a few times a year.


Tips if You’re Getting a Lymphatic Drainage Massage


  • Drink plenty of water before and after your massage, as it can cause you to become dehydrated
  • It’ll leave you feeling pretty exhausted, so you’ll want to take it easy for the rest of the day
  • I suggest stripping down to as little clothing as possible (that you feel comfortable with) so the masseuse can do the treatment most effectively


Tools to Try at Home

Jade Roller & Gua Sha
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Rose Quartz Gua Sha
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the detox market
Body Sculpting Crescent
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Wood Therapy Lymphatic Drainage Paddle
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The Organic Pharmacy
All-Over Body Brush
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