Most skincare and wellness trends from the past decade have one thing in common: they focus on hacking your body to do its best. Lymphatic drainage, a massage procedure that concentrates on draining lymph liquids from your face and body, is one trend. An element of skincare and holistic beauty is associated with it. It improves skin health and the aesthetic quality of facial features and body contours. The sharp jawlines and chiselled tummies on Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid are also the result of an expert lymphatic drainage session before stepping on the runway. But apart from being an essential treatment on a supermodel’s checklist, how beneficial is lymphatic drainage? Should you be doing it yourself (there’s some debate on that as well!), and how often can it be done? We got experts to answer this and more for us below.
Meet the experts –
Dr Sravya C Tipirneni, MBBS MD D.V.L., AMPH (ISB), Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetologist, Columbia Asia Hospital, Whitefield – Bangalore.
Dr Madhuri Agarwal, Aesthetic Dermatologist, Medical Director and CEO of Yavana Aesthetics Clinic, Mulund and Bandra – Mumbai.
What Is Lymphatic Drainage?
The lymphatic system is a natural pathway of our body to eliminate waste; it is the counterpart of blood circulation. It includes lymph vessels and lymph nodes, which aids in circulation and keep your body healthy. A clear liquid runs through your body to deliver certain nutrients or excrete toxins and waste products from different parts of your body through the lymph system. It is also the first defence mechanism or the immune mechanism in our body. Lymphatic drainage is a specialised massage done externally to facilitate and reset the sluggish natural process of lymph drainage. The process helps channel the toxins and waste from the body to the lymph nodes that eliminate it from the body.
What Are The Benefits Of Lymphatic Drainage
A normal functioning human body is self-sufficient, and the lymph drainage or the lymph liquid movements happen automatically. When done externally, it boasts of benefits like –
1. Lymphatic drainage speeds up the removal of bacteria, toxins and protein accumulation from the body. Thereby it improves the immune system.
2. It reduces the body bloating due to the stagnant lymph collection.
3. In certain medical conditions, where there is stasis or slowing down of the liquid, it can cause swelling, puffiness, and other dermatological skin conditions or body conditions. In cases where the drainage is not adequate, or the movement is insufficient, the massages and the helping of the drainage come in.
4. It promotes body relaxation mental rejuvenation and is considered an overall energising procedure.
5. Some talk about the benefit of cellulite reduction though the evidence is not concrete.
Dermatologist Take On Lymphatic Drainage For The Face
At-home lymphatic drainage routines ranges from facial tools to dry brushing your body before a bath. Some even indulge in deep massages themselves, but ideally, it should be done by a licensed professional who knows the drainage system’s anatomy and physiology. Dr Madhuri suggests, “Avoid home drainage, especially on the face as the face has few lymph vessels unlike body and does not require too frequent daily massaging to drain it.”
Dr Sravya seconded that opinion, “Whether or not the lymphatic massage should be done at home or by a professional is also dependent on the medical condition. These days the rage is all about facial exercises and facial lymphatic drainage. Honestly, there is no evidence to prove that you will start looking younger or wrinkles will disappear or anything just by massaging the face. That is not proven; there is no research paper or evidence whatsoever. It is only advocated by people who practice it or sell products relating to lymphatic massage. There is no absolutely no scientific research supporting its claim of facial cosmetic purposes – where if you massage your face every day, you are going to look ageless or younger. Or facial slimming is going to happen or your wrinkles are going to get delayed.”
Slimming down facial features is only possible via procedures like targeted fat destruction such as High-Intensity Focused Ultrasound (HIFU), Cryolipolysis, Mesolipolysis or liposuction. Facial massages have a feel-good factor like any other massage and can probably decrease puffiness. But only if it’s there because of fluid accumulation. Facial lymphatic drainage won’t add long-term benefits to your skincare routine, but offer benefits of better circulation, relaxation and general massaging action to improve the look of your skin.
What To Expect From A Lymphatic Drainage Session
If you plan on trying it for yourself, here’s what to expect. You have to get assessed by an expert to decide whether you want it just for the face or a full-body session. Targeted sessions include a problem-solution approach that focuses on a specific body area. The second evaluation sets your goals for the procedure – is it a medical or a cosmetic goal is what you need to decide and prepare for the lymphatic massage accordingly.
The preparation for a lymphatic massage mainly includes cleaning the area using a correct solution or a particular oil to aid the massage movements or the hand movements of the person doing it. And also, the duration, type of massage, and frequency to get the required benefits have to all be set in place.
Precautions To Take With Lymphatic Drainage
Lymphatic drainage is a pretty safe procedure. Usually, there won’t be any side effects when done by licensed professionals. Some of the things to remember are:
1. A good facial or body lymphatic drainage massage includes understanding the lymphatic system and the direction the vessels are draining. For the face, the ideal direction is to go downwards towards the jugular, towards the neck region, or behind the ears. These spots are where the lymph nodes are present and lymph vessels drain from the smaller tributaries into the larger one.
2. At-home facial and body massages can sometimes run the risk of being done incorrectly or in the wrong direction, in which case you may experience some soreness. Plus, at-home procedures do not promise the same results – you will not notice decrease in bloat or swelling.
3. At-home sessions should be avoided by people with medical history of heart failure, blood clots, persistent swelling with symptoms and any lymphatic infection in the past.