Lymphatic drainage is the term for the positive effect that results from a lymphatic massage, a very precise manner of massage that works specifically to bring your body the following benefits:
- Stimulate the lymphatic system
- Improve metabolism
- Help eliminate waste
- Eliminate toxins
- Give the immune system a boost
How Does Lymphatic Massage Work?
Your lymphatic massage therapist will work with largely flat hands, a posture that allows the fingers to subtly simulate wave-like movements that work within your body to activate the lymphatic system and its connected circulation, and to simultaneously stimulate the the immune system and the parasympathetic nervous system.
Lymphatic massage, also called lymphatic drainage or manual lymph drainage, is a technique developed in Germany for treatment of lymphedema, an accumulation of fluid that can occur after lymph nodes are removed during surgery, most often a mastectomy for breast cancer. Lymphedema can also be present at birth or may develop at puberty or during adulthood. This type, known as primary lymphedema, can affect as many as four limbs and/or other parts of the body. The cause is unknown. Lymphatic massage for conditions other than lymphedema is not medically recommended, although it may be promoted by some therapists.
What Condition Is Lymphatic Drainage Used to Treat?
In short, the answer is chronic swelling—known as lymphedema—which is the result of lymph nodes that have been comprised for any of a number of reasons, notably as a side effect of cancer surgery and treatment.
A significant percentage of breast cancer patients undergo surgery that includes the removal of lymph nodes in the area of the armpit—and many of these people go on to develop lymphedema, which is a condition of localized fluid retention (generally in the arms or legs) that puts the patient at great risk for infection.
Lymph nodes are also frequently removed in the course of treatment for other types of cancer, including colon, skin, bladder, and prostate cancers. And, of course, radiation treatments can be significantly damaging to the lymphatic system. Lymphedema can manifest right in the wake of cancer surgery or radiation therapy, but it can also take months or years before it manifests.
Want to Learn More About the Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage?
Lymphatic massage is an extremely gentle process, and it is not painful whatsoever. Each session with your lymphatic massage therapist will last between 45 and 60 minutes. In most cases, therapeutic sessions are performed four or five times per week for a period of two weeks to a month. Scientific studies have suggested that the greatest drop in swelling levels typically occurs in the initial stages—even during the first week of treatment.