In this guide, we take a look at one of the more specialised massages available at selected spas. This one focusses on helping to keep your lymphatic system running smoothly.

What is the lymphatic system?

Lymph is a clear fluid that flows just beneath the skin’s surface. This fluid contains white blood cells that help us fight infection. It is the primary job of the lymphatic system to carry this fluid around the body. Additionally, the lymphatic system moves fluid from the organs to the circulatory system and rids the body of waste products. The lymphatic system extends throughout the body in a network of vessels, nodes and organs.

What is manual lymphatic drainage massage?

Lymphatic drainage is a gentle massage treatment aimed at flushing lymph towards the lymph nodes and out of the body. A healthy lymphatic circulation helps reduce the dimpled appearance of cellulite and the inflammation caused by a build-up of white blood cells and toxins, which over time can lead to sore joints and other ailments. The lymphatic system is an important part of the body’s immune defence against disease and infection.

Lymphatic drainage massage technique

In a lymphatic drainage massage, your spa therapist will perform a slow, deliberate, rhythmical pumping movement up the legs and abdomen along the body’s lymph drainage paths. Some say it feels not unlike a caterpillar crawling over the skin! It can feel a little tender in certain areas where fat cells accumulate (e.g. on the thighs, where cellulite appears), but generally it’s a gentle technique.

Best for:

- Kick-starting a detoxification programme

- Combating the dimply appearance of cellulite as part of a healthy lifestyle change

- Boosting your immunity

- Reducing pain and inflammation

Think twice...

…if you prefer a deep massage pressure and want a spa therapist to really work into your muscular knots. If that’s the case, this is not the treatment to choose. Lymphatic drainage massage is very gentle rather than knot-busting. Be aware that you may need a course of treatments to see and feel a difference as part of a healthy lifestyle change.

Did you know?

Marching energetically on the spot is an easy way to kick-start your lymph flow first thing in the morning. Also try jumping up and down on a low-impact rebounder (small trampoline). Conversely, being a couch potato or having a sedentary job is a major cause of a sluggish lymphatic system; not to mention a host of longer-term health problems.

Top tip: Body brushing can help to get lymph fluid moving around the body. Read our guide to massage aftercare to find out how to do this most effectively at home between professional lymphatic drainage treatments.

Spas for lymphatic drainage massage

Lymphatic drainage massage is a specialist treatment so is not offered with most spa packages. However, Lorrens Ladies Spa in Torquay does offer packages that include a lymphatic drainage treatment.

You can call our spa experts for more help and advice on finding a spa that provides lymphatic drainage massage.


Does lymphatic drainage massage help you lose weight?

Lymphatic drainage massage might bring about a temporary slimming effect by reducing water retention and bloating. However, it doesn’t contribute to fat burning.

How often should you get a lymphatic drainage massage?

This is a gentle massage that you can enjoy once a month to once a week.

Is lymphatic drainage massage painful?

No, lymphatic drainage massage should not be painful. If you experience any discomfort during the treatment, let the therapist know.

Is lymphatic drainage massage safe during pregnancy?

Lymphatic drainage massage is not off-limits during pregnancy. However, always tell the spa ahead of your treatment and ask your doctor’s advice before booking. Spas do offer specialist pregnancy massage for women in their second trimester, which might be more suitable. We have more advice in our guide to massage during pregnancy.

What should I expect after a lymphatic drainage massage?

After your massage, you might feel tired and thirsty. In addition, your muscles might feel tender. It is important to rest after your massage and to drink lots of water.

What should I wear for lymphatic drainage massage?

You can wear whatever you would like to the spa. However, we recommend loose, comfortable clothing in natural fabrics. Before your massage, you will be asked to change into a robe. You can wear underwear underneath. Learn more in our guide to what to wear to the spa.

Are there any side effects?

Following your lymphatic drainage massage, you might experience tiredness, nausea or a headache. Again, get lots of rest and stay hydrated. Certain groups should avoid this type of massage, including those with a heart condition, kidney failure, blood clots or an infection. If you have had recent surgery or treatment for cancer, seek medical advice before having a massage, and always let the spa know of any medical conditions.

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