Everyone Is Getting Lymphatic Drainage Massages. What Are They?

The wellness treatment all over your Instagram feed.

lymphatic drainage massages

Just when it felt like all the wellness trends had settled down on our IG feeds, impressive before-and-afters of limbs and torsos started infiltrating our scrolls. Full-body sock suits are reaching puppy-filter status, too. The aforementioned scenarios are attributed to the newest wellness treatment in town: lymphatic drainage massage. Its a gentle, rhythmic treatment that’s touted to have loads of health and beauty benefits ranging from debloating to immune boosting and cellulite reduction. To get the 411 on just what to expect from this treatment (which has roots in traditional Chinese medicine), we dialed up one of New York’s most trusted massage therapists, Camila Perez, who counts fashion’s biggest names (think Joan Smalls, Laura Kim, Eva Chen, and Kim Kardashian) as clients. Consider this your lymphatic drainage primer.

What is the lymphatic system?

“The lymph system is part of the circulatory system. It’s a network of organs, lymph nodes, lymph ducts, and lymph vessels that make and move lymph [a colorless fluid containing white blood cells] from tissues to the bloodstream, ultimately cleaning the waste from the cells. The lymph system is also a major part of the body’s immune system, which is responsible for producing defense cells and fighting pathogens.”

What is lymphatic drainage?

“Manual lymphatic drainage is a gentle and effective technique that facilitates the lymph flow. It encourages the lymph that is stagnated in the tissue to move towards the bloodstream to be eliminated by the urinary system.”

What are signs you could use a treatment?

“The main function of the lymphatic system eliminates the waste produced by the cells. That’s what we call toxins. When the body cannot process all the waste and reabsorb the fluids, we start having water retention and bloating, so as a health treatment, anytime you are having these symptoms is a great time to have this treatment done. Also, if you are getting sick frequently, the lymphatic drainage stimulates the immune response. Lymphatic drainage can also be performed as a beauty treatment, helping reduce the appearance of cellulite, too.”

What can you expect during a lymphatic massage?

“The good thing about manual lymphatic drainage is that it is just a stimulation of what your body naturally does. Typically no side effects occur. It’s relaxing and slightly reduces the blood pressure in the body. The lymphatic system is very superficial, so the strokes are very gentle. A full-body treatment takes 60 minutes. The face treatment, 30 minutes.”

What are the immediate results?

“When we perform manual lymphatic drainage, we start pumping the lymph nodes—it’s basically like cleaning the drain. Then stimulating the liquid to get inside the vessels. The body response is immediate! Also, it can be associated with tissue manipulation to accentuate the body contour.”

What are the benefits?

“Reducing swelling, improved digestion, better blood and lymph circulation, relaxation, and as a result, you have the visual benefits.”

How often should you get a treatment?

“In a perfect world, once a week is ideal. But each client has to be analyzed individually.”

Are there certain environmental or lifestyle habits that require extra treatment?

“Of course, a proper diet is essential—less salt, less sugar, not over-consuming carbohydrates. Also, at the opposite of the circulatory system, the lymph system does not have a pump. [Instead,] muscle contraction and joint movement makes the lymph flow. So exercise is vital for a healthy lymphatic system. Sedentary people, [or those with] autoimmune conditions and hormone imbalance are some examples of clients that could experience amazing well-being after the treatment.” 

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