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Mind & Body

Lymphatic Drainage: Everything You Need To Know

From glowing skin, to boosted immunity, improved circulation and a sculpted body, lymphatic drainage massage is thought to detox and cleanse the body of harmful toxins, but does it really work, or is it just another wellness trend that’s all hot air?

It claims to boost immunity, reveal glowing skin, drain your body of toxins, improve circulation and sculpt your body to reveal a more toned physique, but what is lymphatic drainage, and why do we need it? 

With recent Hollywood-A-listers spotted getting the treatment, from Haily Beiber to Selena Gomez and Megan Markle, naturally, we want to know more. Instagram-famous massage therapists Flávia Lanini and Camila Perez both perform lymphatic drainage massage on celebrity clients, and boast some impressive before-and-after photos of contoured physiques. 

From the end of 2018 up to 2020, bookings for lymphatic drainage on spa treatment booking service, Treatwell, increased by 81.5% year-on-year, and cost on average from £50 for half an hour, right up to £400 for an hour-long treatment, but can it really boost our health and make us look more toned? 

First, we’ll explain the science behind it. 

What is lymphatic drainage?

The lymphatic system in your body lies under the skin and helps the
body to drain toxins through lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are located all
around the body, with the main four areas being the neck, abdomen,
armpits, and groin areas. It also helps to absorb fats and vitamins from
your digestive system into your bloodstream. It acts as a kind of waste
disposal for our body. When you have swollen glands in your neck with a
cough or cold, this is your lymph nodes. When an infection arises, your
body produces extra infection-fighting cells as a means of protection. 

lymphatic system is part of the immune system and as such it helps the
body to fight infections. It’s a large network of organs, tissues, and
fluids that help to remove toxins from the body. Lymphatic drainage is a
way of gently massaging the face and body to encourage movement of the
lymph fluids and helps support the body to get rid of these toxins more
quickly and effectively,” says celebrity facialist and natural skincare
expert, Lisa Harris, who performs lymphatic drainage massage at her practice. 

What are the benefits of lymphatic drainage massage?

“Lymphatic drainage helps to improve circulation, reduce water
retention and boost the immune system. It’s believed it can help
varicose veins and aid weight loss. It can help to reduce swelling and
bloating as well as improve the appearance of the skin by reducing fine
lines, wrinkles, and eye bags. It can also aid digestion and the
metabolism and result in cleaner, healthier skin, and less scarring.”
Some people also report in feeling less stiffness when the wake up in
the morning after a lymphatic drainage massage. 

“The lymphatic
fluid helps to remove waste and toxins from the tissues in the body.
Some health conditions can cause this fluid to build up, however, and so
drainage can be beneficial. It’s often used to relieve lymphedema after
breast cancer surgery. It can also help people with conditions such as
rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia,” says Harris. 

What is lymphatic drainage massage used for?

In short, a clogged lymph system can cause lots of serious health
conditions. Our body’s cells depend on the lymphatic system to transport
messages between cells, and it’s packed-full of bacteria-fighting white
blood cells, that help to keep us healthy. If your lymphatic drainage
system isn’t working properly, you might be experiencing swelling,
because the lymph fluid is building up instead of being drained. 

a medical sense, it’s previously been used to treat people who have
trouble draining their lymph nodes due to damage because of surgery,
trauma, infection, or diseases like cancer or autoimmune disorders. So,
what about healthy people? Can lymphatic drainage massage be beneficial
for everyone? 

As massages tend to be a relaxing pastime, and
naturally any massage will help to drain your body of toxins, it can
only help towards you feeling less bloated and more relaxed. The ‘weight
loss’ claims attached to lymphatic drainage are sketchy. While it can
help to drain any weight from water retention, and result in a less
bloated, and in some cases, more toned physique or depuffed face, that’s
as far as it goes. The “contouring” effect is only temporary. It’s not
really a fat loss, more of a reduction in bloating, although fewer
toxins in the body do mean that your metabolic rate could be improved,
which could support weight loss.  

How do you do lymphatic drainage?

“There are various methods of lymphatic drainage from massage,
vacuuming, vibration to dry brushing, even moisturizing the skin in
upward flowing movements towards the heart will help improve lymphatic
flow. You can perform lymphatic drainage at home but if you have a
chronic condition or suffer from lymphoedema it is best to visit a
professional,” says massage therapist Karen White, of Phoenix Therapy Spa.  

often do this in the clinic to help patients who are suffering from
bloating around the face but it is simple to perform on yourself at home
too and just involves carrying out some simple face massage using your
fingers. Put simply, you need to use the pads of your fingers and work
upwards and from the middle of the face towards the lymph nodes around
the neck and ears using gentle movements. This will help to drain the
fluid from the face and reduce puffiness and bloating.” 

Lymphatic drainage massage at home can be performed as part of your self-care ritual, like dry brushing your body, or massaging your face with
jade rollers or gua sha as part of your skincare routine. Both methods
support lymphatic drainage to reveal a less puffy, more
toned complexion. 

What other ways can you improve your lymphatic drainage system?

Aside from lymphatic massage,staying active, leading a healthy
lifestyle, drinking wateranddeepbreathing are key for boosting your
body’s natural detoxificationprocess and lymphatic drainage, so doing
some exercise like running or swimming while focusing on your breathing
can help, and although more studies need to be done, hydrotherapy is
thought to help too – that’s moving between hot and cold water.Coldwater
therapy, recently made famous by Wim Hof, can also support circulation,
amongst a heap of other benefits.

Is lymphatic drainage worth trying?

Reducing toxins in our body through lymphatic drainage is always going
to be beneficial. Fewer toxins ultimately mean better overall health,
from protection against coughs and colds to improved skintone and
texturewith fewer breakouts,toanenhanced circulation and digestive
system. A relaxing treatment that promises to improve skin and boost
health? We won’t argue with that...