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6 Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Want to explore a natural path to improved health and wellbeing? Boost your immune system and detoxify your body with a lymphatic drainage massage.

Woman lying down, receiving a shoulder and back lymphatic drainage massage

Lymphatic drainage massage (also known as manual lymphatic drainage) is a popular form of natural therapy with many health benefits. Studies show it can improve the quality of life for those with chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic venous disease. 

This gentle form of massage stimulates the lymphatic system, which is responsible for eliminating waste and toxins from the body. During a session, a trained therapist uses gentle, rhythmic strokes and circular movements to encourage the flow of lymphatic fluid throughout the body. This helps to remove excess fluid, reduce swelling, improve immune function, and promote relaxation. 

The Lymphatic System in TCM

Photo of a woman performing a lymphatic massage on her neck
Stimulating the lymphatic system can promote the removal of excess waste and toxins in the body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners view the lymphatic system as an important aspect of the body’s overall fluid metabolism, working with the circulatory system to remove waste and toxins from the body. The circulation of qi, blood, and body fluids is essential in maintaining health and preventing disease. 

“Lymphatic drainage massage works to complement acupuncture and herbal remedies as part of a holistic approach to treating lymphedema, a condition in which fluid builds up and causes swelling in the body’s tissues.”  

Real Health Medical TCM Physician Kelvin Goh

Lymphatic Drainage Massage Benefits

Photo of hands massaging belly in the spa for relaxing lymphatic drainage massage
Lymphatic drainage on the abdomen can help increase relaxation.

According to Physician Goh, there are many benefits of lymphatic drainage, including: 

Reduced swelling and inflammation  

Lymphatic drainage massage helps people with swelling in their tissues, such as after an injury or surgery. The massage stimulates the lymphatic system, which can reduce swelling by removing excess fluid from the tissues.

Improved immune system function  

It helps stimulate the lymphatic system, an essential part of the immune system. Removing waste and toxins from the tissues can improve immune system function and reduce the risk of illness.

Improved circulation

This massage improves circulation by stimulating the lymphatic system, which can help to enhance the flow of lymph and blood through the body. It can also help the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues and organs.

Increased relaxation and better sleep 

This relaxing massage may help reduce stress and tension in the body. It can also help to improve sleep and may have a calming effect on the nervous system.

Healthier skin 

This massage can help improve the skin’s health by removing waste and toxins from the tissues. It also helps the appearance of the skin and reduces the risk of acne, eczema, and other skin conditions.

Improved postoperative recovery

Before and after surgery, lymphatic drainage massage helps increase blood flow, remove stagnant tissue fluid, and reduce stress and anxiety associated with surgery. It will also help speed healing and reduce scar tissue and inflammation.

The massage should not be performed immediately after surgery due to blood clots and infection risk. Wait for at least six weeks after surgery or when your doctor clears you for a lymphatic massage.

More research is still needed to fully understand the potential benefits and limitations of lymphatic drainage massage for various conditions. It’s also important to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare provider before starting any new therapy. 

Do You Need Lymphatic Drainage?

Photo of arm gentle massaged for rehabilitation after cancer surgery as part of complete decongestive therapy to reduce oedema, control lymphedema
Lymphatic drainage massage benefits those with fibromyalgia, lymphedema, and other conditions that affect the lymphatic system.

This massage can benefit many people. It can also be helpful for athletes, people with injuries or who’ve undergone surgery, and those with swelling or fluid retention. According to Physician Goh, it’s especially helpful for those who have: 

  • Health conditions that affect blood flow to the extremities, such as the hands and feet 
  • A build-up of fluid due to deep vein thrombosis  
  • Infection or trauma in the lymphatic system 
  • Some types of vascular surgery, such as vein stripping 
  • Burn scar excision 
  • Lipectomy (a type of surgery to remove fat from the body) 
  • Filariasis (an infestation of the lymph nodes by a parasite carried by mosquitoes) 

It’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before undergoing a lymphatic drainage massage. It may not be suitable for those with medical conditions such as heart conditions, kidney failure, bronchial asthma, uncontrolled hypertension, blood clots, acute inflammation, acute infections, and fever.

Consider incorporating this massage into your regular self-care routine to support your overall health and well-being. You can try a session with a trained therapist or learn how to do it yourself from your healthcare provider. 

Interested in exploring the benefits of lymphatic drainage? Bookmark this article for reference and talk to a healthcare provider or a licensed massage therapist to determine if it’s right for you.


  1. Fibromyalgia Syndrome (Third Edition). 2010. Integration: what seems to be helping? [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/manual-lymphatic-drainage> [Accessed on 24 February 2023]
  2. PLoS ONE. 2018. Long term effects of manual lymphatic drainage and active exercises on physical morbidities, lymphoscintigraphy parameters and lymphedema formation in patients operated due to breast cancer: A clinical trial. [Online] Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0189176> [Accessed on 23 February 2023]
  3. Journal of Physical Therapy Science. 2017. Effects of manual lymph drainage for abdomen on the brain activity of subjects with psychological stress. [Online] Available at: <https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/medicine-and-dentistry/manual-lymphatic-drainagehttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5361017/> [Accessed on 24 February 2023]
  4. Cureus. 2022. Reduction of Arm Lymphedema Using Manual Lymphatic Therapy (Godoy Method). [Online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9508690/> [Accessed on 23 February 2023]
  5. Journal of Manual & Manipulative Therapy. 2009. Systematic review of efficacy for manual lymphatic drainage techniques in sports medicine and rehabilitation: an evidence-based practice approach. [Online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2755111/> [Accessed on 23 February 2023]
  6. British Journal Of Community Nursing. 2010. Manual lymphatic drainage: Exploring the history and evidence base. [Online] Available at: <https://www.researchgate.net/publication/44683866_Manual_lymphatic_drainage_Exploring_the_history_and_evidence_base> [Accessed on 23 February 2023]
  7. Cardiovascular Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2022. Reducing fatigue-related symptoms in Long COVID-19: a preliminary report of a lymphatic drainage intervention. [Online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9010124/> [Accessed on 23 February 2023]
  8. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2014. Influence of Manual Lymphatic Drainage on Health-Related Quality of Life and Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency: A Randomized Controlled Trial. [Online] Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1016/j.apmr.2014.09.020> [Accessed on 23 February 2023]
  9. Jornal Vascular Brasileiro. 2021. Conservative treatment of lymphedema: the state of the art. [Online] Available at: <https://doi.org/10.1590/1677-5449.200091> [Accessed on 23 February 2023]

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