Lymphatic Drainage: Everything You Need to Know

lymphatic-drainage-massage

When it comes to self-care practices, getting a massage is one that’s not only indulgent, but can also improve your health. Not only do they assist with muscle stretching and recovery, but they’re also super relaxing, which we all know is great for lowering cortisol

In recent self care trends, there’s been a wave of massages focusing specifically on lymphatic drainage. This type of massage has become popular among celebrities and models due to its instant debloating effects. However, it’s benefits claim to go beyond purely aesthetic, and can actually be helpful for your immune system.

What is Lymphatic Drainage?

You may remember from high school anatomy, that your lymphatic system is made up of different organs, lymph nodes and vessels. They work like your body’s own sanitation system to get rid of toxins, waste, and fight off infections. 

The better your lymphatic system functions, the stronger your immune system, and healthier your body is. 

This is where lymphatic drainage comes in. Some health conditions can cause lymph fluids to build up, cause swelling, and suppress your immune health. Lymphatic drainage massages are then needed to help decongest the blockage, improve circulation, and drain the build up of fluids. 

Who is Lymphatic Drainage Best For?

Normally, manual lymphatic drainage isn’t prescribed unless you have a blockage or issue impacting your lymph system. Lymphatic drainage is particularly beneficial for those who are experiencing:

  • Recovery from physical trauma (surgery, chemo, injuries, breast cancer, etc.)
  • Lymphedema
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Digestive issues
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines

But even if you don’t have any of these conditions, you can still benefit from manual lymphatic drainage too.

Lymphatic Drainage for Preventative Health

Although lymphatic drainage was created as a treatment for the health issues we mentioned, it also started to become popular for both preventative health and aesthetic purposes. 

Manual lymphatic drainage can be beneficial for preventative health by: 

  • improving circulation, which is essential for many of us who have sedentary jobs. 
  • It can also help release tension, digestive problems
  • and as we mentioned earlier, promote deep relaxation that lowers stress and anxiety.

For aesthetic purposes, aestheticians started sharing this technique as a body sculpting treatment that gives you “instant results”. This is mainly achieved by draining out the excess water retention that causes bloat through a manual lymphatic drainage massage. 

The results are admittedly impressive, but only temporary as your body will inevitably retain water again in the following days. However, some studies did show that regular lymphatic drainage can help reduce fat and the appearance of cellulite.

Whether your goal is to improve your health or aesthetics, incorporating periodic lymphatic drainage massages can be a good addition to your self care regimen.

How to do a Lymphatic Drainage Massage

The good news is you don’t need to go to an expensive spa to get the benefits of lymphatic drainage. This is especially convenient during these times, where we should practice more caution with social interactions.

Here is a technique to perform a DIY lymphatic drainage facial massage safely at home:

  1. Take deep breaths to get into a relaxed state.
  2. Find a comfortable position whether that’s sitting or lying down.
  3. Using the palms of your hands, start at your forehead and apply gentle pressure. 
  4. Gently move your hands down the face, gently stretching your skin towards the lymph nodes in your neck. 
  5. Use a rolling technique for your eye area, using your ring finger instead of your palms.
  6. Repeat approximately 5 times in each area.

If you’re not so keen about touching your face with your hands, an inexpensive facial roller (like this one) works great for this.

Other Lymphatic Drainage Techniques

Massage isn’t the only way to promote lymphatic drainage. These are some other examples of manual lymphatic drainage you can do from home:

  • Dry brushing. This technique really helps with improving circulation as well as exfoliating. Using a dry brush, you start at your feet and work your way up in circular motions toward your heart. Then you switch and brush downwards towards your heart from your neck down.
  • Bouncing. This can be done either on a trampoline or sitting on an exercise ball. The idea is that this will help boost circulation, and in turn, move around lymph fluids.
  • Tapping. The concept of tapping is that you tap on certain points of your body where major lymph nodes are located to activate and stimulate them to get working. This can be done daily.
  • Yoga. While any exercise helps, certain yoga flows and sequences can stimulate your lymphatic system to eliminate toxins, boost immunity and reduce inflammation. Pair this energizing breathing technique  with your yoga flow for extra system-cleansing benefits.

Final Thoughts: Lymphatic drainage

While lymphatic drainage is generally safe, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before using this as a treatment for a pre-existing condition such as:

  • A risk of blood clots
  • Heart conditions
  • Lymphatic Infection
  • Swelling without cause

For other questions or to learn more about lymphatic drainage, and other self care techniques, try Yes Health free for 14 days and see what your health coach recommends for you.


Yes Health is a low-cost, weight loss and diabetes-prevention program committed to helping everyone live healthier, happier lives.