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What Does Lymphatic Massage Do?

Updated: May 23

lymphatic massage

Lymphatic massage is a type of massage therapy that focuses on helping the body maintain good circulation and body fluid balance. It can help the immune system to function properly, and reduce swelling and inflammation. And like any other type of massage therapy, it offers relaxation and stress relief.

Continue reading if you want to learn more about lymphatic massage, how it works, the wonders it can do to your body and why it’s not recommended to people with certain health conditions.

What is Lymphatic Massage?

Lymphatic massage is a lesser-known type of massage compared to remedial, sports, Deep Tissue and Thai massage.

Also called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) or lymphatic drainage massage, it focuses on enhancing the body's immune system.

MLD specifically targets the lymphatic system; it stimulates or helps lymphatic circulation in the body. In other words, it encourages the draining and moving of lymphatic fluid throughout the body.

During a lymphatic drainage massage session, our licenced massage therapist will apply gentle pressure, along with light, rhythmic movements to help the lymph vessels contract. This contraction moves the lymph fluid, which has built up in certain areas of the body, to the lymphatic system.

Lymphatic drainage massages help remove toxins, excess fluids and wastes from the body. This will result in better overall health and a stronger immune system.

What is the Lymphatic System?

The lymphatic system is a network of nodes (or glands) and vessels (or thin tubes) where most bodily fluids pass through. As part of the immune system, its lymph nodes filter all the debris from the lymph, which is an assortment of immune system elements, white blood cells, water, proteins and waste products.

Lymph nodes are located throughout the body. The largest nodes are found in the neck, armpits and groin. After the lymph fluid has been filtered, lymph nodes move the “clean” lymph back to the veins that transport blood to the heart.

What is Lymphoedema?

Similar to the blood in the circulatory system, lymph fluid needs to circulate throughout the lymphatic system. Generally, a lymphatic system that is not working properly causes the lymph fluid to collect in some areas of the body. Manual lymph drainage massage is often used in treating lymphedema (lymphoedema) side effects such as the swelling of a patient’s arm or leg.

People with lymphoedema often experience:

  • Pain

  • Weakness

  • Tissue swelling

  • Skin discolouration

  • Recurring infections

  • Heaviness in the limbs

  • Hardening or thickening of the skin

In some cases, surgeries, cancer treatments, infections, injuries or genetic disorders can cause lymphatic fluid to build up in the body tissues.

Types of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

There are 4 types of lymphatic drainage massage techniques commonly used by doctors, physical therapists and massage therapists. These techniques follow the same principle, which is to apply gentle movements and very light pressure to stretch the skin toward the lymphatic flow.

Lymphatic drainage massages always start at the limb area nearest to the torso and move outwards. Each massage session typically takes 15 minutes to an hour to complete.

  • Vodder is a fundamental technique that uses different kinds of sweeping motions around the target area.

  • Foldi technique is performed by alternating between the circular motions of the Vodder technique and moments of relaxation.

  • Casley-Smith technique is a bit similar to Vodder. The only difference is that Casley-Smith involves using the sides and palms of the hands.

  • Leduc technique uses hand motions to collect and then redirect the lymphatic fluid so it can be absorbed into the larger lymphatic system.

How Does Lymphatic Drainage Massage Work?

lymphatic massage

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Muscle contractions, deep breathing and lymphatic movement

influence the lymphatic system. However, injury, surgery, stress, sedentary lifestyle and other factors can interfere with the natural lymphatic flow.

On this account, toxins will build up and the lymphatic fluid becomes stagnant. Lymphatic drainage massage helps restore the optimal functioning of this essential part of the immune system.

To perform a lymphatic drainage massage, our experienced and highly-skilled massage therapist employs gentle, sweeping motions to aid lymph vessels carry lymph fluid more efficiently. Such hand movements follow the natural lymphatic flow. This will encourage the fluid to advance towards the lymph nodes, where waste and toxins are filtered out.

The expert touch of our skilled massage therapist helps reduce swelling, improve circulation and relieve congestion. Accordingly, our lymphatic drainage massage service offers a host of benefits for your overall health.

What are the Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

1. Detoxification and Improved Immunity

Stimulating the lymphatic system helps eliminate toxins, harmful substances and metabolic waste from the body. This enhances your body’s natural process of detoxification and improves your overall immunity.

2. Reduced Water Retention and Swelling

Those suffering from oedema or swelling after the surgery can benefit from lymphatic drainage massage. A stimulated lymphatic system helps remove excess fluid and reduce swelling in the affected area.

3. Faster Healing Process

Active people, particularly those participating in sports can benefit from the accelerated healing process. This can be made possible by increasing circulation and facilitating the removal of cellular debris and metabolic waste. This is also beneficial for individuals recovering from injury or surgery as they can experience faster tissue generation and reduced scar tissue formation.

4. Inflammation and Chronic Pain Relief

If you’re suffering from chronic pain or inflammation, you might find significant relief from lymphatic drainage massage. By reducing the swelling and removing inflammatory substances, this massage technique can help ease discomfort and enhance overall mobility.

5. Promotes Healthier, More Vibrant Skin

Stimulating lymphatic circulation and removing toxins may promote healthy, radiant skin. Lymphatic drainage massage can help increase the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells. This enhances the production of collagen, which results in a natural glow and a more youthful appearance.

Health Conditions That Will Benefit from Lymphatic Drainage Massage


Compression bandages or tight stockings are often used to treat lymphedema (lymphoedema). Having a manual lymphatic drainage treatment can help boost the benefits. Moreover, it can help relieve mild to moderate symptoms associated with breast cancer-related lymphedema/lymphoedema.


This condition causes swelling of the tissues, discolouration of the skin and inflammation. Lymphatic drainage massage is superior to connective tissue massage in treating stiffness, and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Manual lymphatic drainage massage can help improve the quality of life for people with fibromyalgia.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

CVI is a condition when the vein valves (or walls) in the legs are not working properly. Consequently, this prevents the blood from flowing back to the heart. Manual lymphatic drainage massage can help improve blood flow in people with chronic venous insufficiency.

Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a health condition that causes pain and swelling of the joints. Also, it can cause your body tissue to swell and change your skin colour.

You may experience poor lymphatic circulation as your rheumatoid arthritis gets worse. Lymphatic drainage massage can help relieve symptoms of later-stage rheumatoid arthritis.

Side Effects and Risks of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

side effects of lymphatic massage

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Albeit a non-invasive technique, manual lymphatic drainage comes with a few side effects.

It can make you urinate more often. You may also feel a bit tired after the session. And if you have symptoms such as fatigue, nausea or headaches, the massage can temporarily make them worse before they improve.

While this massage technique is considered low-risk, it is not safe for people whose lymph should not travel back to their heart or kidneys. It is not safe for people with kidney failure, and heart or liver conditions.

Also, those who have symptoms of blood clots and stroke should not have this lymphatic drainage massage. Further, it is not safe for people with an active infection.

Since this type of massage uses extremely light pressure, it should not cause pain or leave any bruising. If you feel even slight pain during a lymphatic drainage massage, you should tell your health services provider or CDT immediately.

When Should You Get a Lymphatic Massage?

Everyone can benefit from the detoxifying and relaxing benefits of lymphatic drainage massage. But people with certain health conditions will need this type of massage therapy more than anyone else.

You may need manual lymph drainage massage if you:

Have Digestive Issues

Since lymphatic drainage massage helps in removing excess lymph, it can help improve digestion. It might even help relieve certain gastrointestinal ailments.

With that said, you must speak with a healthcare professional before getting a massage.

Alternatively, you can consult a certified therapist at a reputable health clinic. It’s crucial to evaluate your specific health condition if it’s appropriate for a lymphatic drainage massage.

Have Excess Weight

Lymphatic drainage massage aids in the removal of toxins and waste, which can boost your metabolism. For this reason, this massage technique may help with weight loss.

Suffer from Anxiety or Stress

Lymphatic drainage massage has a gentle, calming effect that promotes relaxation and stress relief.

Had a Recent Surgery or Injury

Surgeries and injuries can cause toxins and excess fluids to collect in some areas of the body. Lymphatic drainage can help reduce swelling and speed up the healing process.

Have Lymphoedema or Oedema

Lymph drainage massages help reduce the swelling caused by lymph fluid buildup in the limbs in patients with Lymphoedema or Oedema.

What Happens During a Lymph Drainage Massage?

lymphatic massage

Source: Pexels

Speak with your doctor if you’re considering having a lymphatic drainage massage. Make sure to receive treatment from a licenced remedial massage therapist.

During the lymphatic drainage massage session, you will be asked to lie on a massage table. Our massage therapist will use a series of massage techniques. Such techniques often include sweeping, compressing, stretching and cupping motions.

While the goal is to stimulate the lymphatic system, our skilled therapist uses gentle, rhythmic movements that do not put too much pressure on the vessel. They will make sure you get a painless and deeply relaxing massage experience.

Relax and Kiss Your Stress Goodbye with Siam Soul Lymphatic Drainage Massage

The dedicated team of health and wellness experts at Siam Soul are passionate about helping you reach your optimal health and well-being. Our massage service includes specialised techniques so you can experience the transformative power of lymph drainage massage.

Say goodbye to toxins, swelling and soreness. Embrace a renewed sense of radiance and vitality. Book an appointment today!


What is a lymphatic massage good for?

Lymphatic massage is good for those who have digestive issues, lymphoedema or excess weight. The massage is also beneficial for people who suffer from anxiety, stress and those who had surgery.

What is the difference between massage and lymphatic massage?

What makes lymphatic massage different from other massage techniques is the use of light pressure to stimulate lymph circulation.

How soon can I expect to feel the benefits of lymphatic drainage massage?

You may feel the benefits immediately after the session. However, you may need a series of sessions to get the full benefits of lymphatic massage.



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