Treatment guide

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Lymphatic drainage massage is a light pressure massage used to stimulate the movement of lymph fluid throughout the body. A healthy lymphatic system automatically transports the lymph throughout the body. Lymphatic drainage massage can help when the lymphatic system function is impaired by surgery, medical conditions or other damage.

The content has been reviewed for quality and accuracy to the best of our knowledge by Qunomedical and its Medical Board of Experts.

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Lymphatic Drainage Massage Quick Details


  • People with lymphedema or swelling of feet, legs or arms.

  • People who recently developed varicose veins.

  • People with changes in cellulite.

  • People having difficulty fighting off certain infections, a cold, or flu.

  • People with water retention.

  • People with poor blood circulation to their tissues.

  • People who wish to reduce fatigue.

  • People having trouble removing toxins from their body from a sedentary lifestyle.


  • Lymphatic drainage massage can last from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours.


  • There is technically no recovery time after lymphatic drainage massage but you may feel especially tired afterwards and should take it easy for the rest of the day.


Not recommended for people with:

  • Congestive heart failure

  • History of blood clots or stroke

  • Current infection

  • Liver problems

  • Kidney problems

How Does It Work?

Lymph is a clear, yellowish fluid which contains white blood cells. The purpose of the lymph is to remove toxins and unwanted waste as well as help your immune system fight off infections. Smooth muscle tissue typically helps the lymph circulate throughout the body and move the toxins and waste to the organs that can properly remove them.

However, sometimes lymph fluid becomes stagnant and stops flowing properly. This can lead to a build-up in certain parts of the body, which can present as more minor symptoms, such as sluggishness, achiness, or a higher susceptibility to cold and flu, or as more serious symptoms such as infections, cancer, blockages, or lymphedema (swelling due to a build-up of fluid).

How Is Lymphatic Drainage Massage Performed?

Manual Massage

Lymphatic drainage massage can be done manually like other massages using long, very light rhythmic strokes to get the lymph flowing in the correct direction.

If you’ve never had a lymphatic drainage massage before, it is best you see a trained practitioner who is able to perform the correct movements for your condition or teach you some techniques you can also use at home. This is especially important if you have had surgery or have had your lymph nodes removed due to treatment for cancer or other conditions.


Lymphatic drainage massage can also be performed using a technique called Pressotherapy. The Pressotherapy device looks like a set of velcro sleeves that can cover the legs, abdomen, or arms. If you’ve ever had your blood pressure taken with a blood pressure cuff on your upper arm, it’s a similar idea.

The sleeves are filled with chambers. The sleeves are then connected to an air compressor which intermittently fills the chambers with air. As the air cycles through, it creates slow, pressured waves that mimic how the smooth muscle tissue pumps lymph fluid through the body.

What Should I Expect After Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage can help stagnant lymph to flow again. This means you may have additional waste and toxins that have been stuck now flowing through your body as the lymph is being reabsorbed by the organs that remove them most effectively.

This may leave you feeling extra tired or sluggish right after the massage so it is a good time to take it easy and rest up afterwards.

A day or two after your lymphatic drainage massage, you should notice less swelling if any areas were swollen before and possibly an increase in energy.

Drinking plenty of water and exercise can help your lymphatic system flowing properly but it’s helpful to have further maintenance massages, particularly during the recovery period after a surgery.

Maintenance massages can also be useful at the end of a cold or with a change in the level of activity you do.


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