What is a Lymphatic Massage?

woman receiving a lymphatic massage on her legsYour lymphatic system is an essential part of your body’s immune and detoxification processes. Lymph is a fluid that transports nutrients and oxygen to cells, collects toxins along the way, and flushes them out through your lymph nodes.

If your lymphatic system has been compromised, those fluids and toxins can build up in your body and lead to chronic swelling, a condition called lymphedema. If you’re experiencing this, a lymphatic massage, also known as manual lymphatic drainage, could help alleviate your symptoms. Here’s a guide to how the treatment works and how it could improve your quality of life.

How Does the Lymphatic System Work?

You have about twice as many lymph vessels in your body as blood vessels. They drain fluid from body tissues and pump it to your lymph nodes, which are concentrated in your armpits, neck and groin, to filter out foreign material such as viruses, fungi or bacteria.

After it’s filtered, your lymph is drained toward progressively larger vessels until it reaches the lymphatic ducts, where it returns to your blood. Unlike blood, which is pumped by your heart, lymph is squeezed through vessels when you use your muscles.

What is Lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a condition that can occur after you’ve had lymph nodes removed, which often happens as part of cancer treatment. For example, many breast cancer patients may have lymph nodes removed in their armpits, and lymph node removal may also be a part of treatment for colon, skin, bladder and prostate cancers.

When lymph nodes are taken out, lymphatic fluid may accumulate in the areas where the nodes used to be. This can cause painful, chronic swelling that makes it difficult to move and carry out your daily routine. It can also lead to infection. In addition, the lack of lymph nodes in the swollen area makes it difficult for your body to push the lymphatic fluid through your vessels to filter it through your body.

How can a Lymphatic Massage Help?

Your lymphatic massage lasts about 45 minutes to one hour and is incredibly gentle and painless. The treatment will take place in a heated room. Your massage therapist will use very light pressure with long, gentle, rhythmic strokes, as well as flat hands in wave-like movements. They’ll put pressure only on your skin, not the underlying muscles. This will stimulate the flow of your lymphatic fluid and help restart your body’s detoxification process. The lymphatic massage may leave you feeling tired, so you might want to take the rest of the day off to recover.

After your massage, it’s vital to drink lots of water to help flush your system. You should also stay active. Even light activity such as short walks can stimulate your lymphatic system as your muscles exert pressure on your vessels.

Schedule Your Seattle Lymphatic Massage Consultation Today

At the Larrabee Center for Plastic Surgery, we’re dedicated to helping our patients live comfortable, happy, and fulfilling lives. If you suffer from lymphedema, our massage therapists can help alleviate your symptoms and get through your daily routine without painful swelling.

We serve Seattle and the surrounding areas of Washington. Call (206) 386-3550 today to schedule a consultation.

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