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  • Writer's pictureAbby Maleport

#1 Question I get asked regarding lymphatic drainage massage

After many years of performing manual lymphatic drainage massage it is clear that the number one thing folks want to know is: Where does the fluid go? To answer that question, lets start with the basic anatomy and function of the lymphatic system.

Becoming a certified lymphedema therapist entails over 100 hours of study and training in which you learn an in depth view of the lymphatic system and its structure as well as the direction of flow and how to facilitate change. In this training you learn that our lymphatic system is a huge structure, in which I would dare to say is larger than our circulatory system. It contains a superficial system that is web-like and runs everywhere our skin runs and contains initial lymph collectors. As well as a deeper system that contains larger vessels and trunks that eventually all lead back to our circulatory system via the subclavian vein, which lies just behind our collarbone. As we move our bodies and stimulate our lymphatic system the lymph fluid and waste travels through our lymphatic system until it eventually hooks up with the circulatory system where it is no longer called lymph fluid, but is now a component of our blood. This fluid than follows the path of the circulatory system where it is filtered through our heart, liver, kidneys and bladder until we expel it out as urine.

After a lymphatic drainage massage I always tell my clients that they will likely have to pee more! But that is the whole point right?! We want to get rid of the extra fluid and cellular debris from our bodies! And how do we do that, we pee it out. The urine itself might be a different color or may have a different odor, but this is all normal as we are detoxing our bodies.

When it comes to cosmetic surgery I have seen and heard of awful reports of massage therapists providing manual lymphatic drainage by opening the incisions and squeezing out the extra fluid out through this opening. THIS IS NOT LYMPHATIC DRAINAGE and this is certainly not safe and something I don't agree with. Not only is it wrong, but it is dangerous, painful and such a huge infection risk. If someone is contemplating manual lymphatic drainage, it is not a painful technique. In fact it is quite the opposite. It is gentle, slow and rhythmic. Most of my clients fall asleep on the table.

I encourage you to do your research prior to scheduling a lymphatic drainage massage and make sure that the individual has advanced training in the lymphatic system. Whether that person is a certified lymphedema therapist or has taken advanced continuing education courses. Please ask the questions to ensure you get the best experience. Every massage therapist can market that they know and perform lymphatic massage, however what is taught in massage school is not necessarily the best technique.

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