How Lymphatic Drainage Massages Can Help Reduce Inflammation & Improve Skin Health

How Lymphatic Drainage Massages Can Help Reduce Inflammation & Improve Skin Health

The lymphatic system consists of organs, vessels, and tissues that support the immune system and maintain a healthy balance of fluids throughout the body. When there’s an obstruction in the lymphatic system, which can happen due to bacteria, toxins, and viruses, fluid builds up. Lymphatic drainage massage helps to reduce this buildup while speeding up the absorption and transportation of lymphatic fluids. 

Some lymphatic massage proponents have suggested performing the treatment on the face to reduce puffiness and dull skin. But does it work? Read on to explore lymphatic drainage massage benefits, how it works, and how to incorporate it into your skincare routine.  

What is a Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle form of massage therapy used to ease painful swelling in the arms and legs associated with lymphedema, or excess fluid in your tissues.1 Using specific techniques, a lymphatic drainage massage helps to transport this fluid (also known as lymph) from your tissues to your lymph nodes, thus reducing swelling and discomfort.

How is a Lymphatic Drainage Massage Done on the Face?

Of the 600 lymph nodes in the body, 200 of them are in the neck.2 A lymphatic drainage massage on the face is meant to drain fluid buildup in the face by transporting it back to the lymph nodes in the neck. This means that a lymphatic massage should move in a gentle downward motion. 

A lymphatic drainage facial massage includes the following steps:

  • Using a lightweight oil or moisturizer, gently massage your neck in a circular, downward motion.
  • Moving up the face, apply circular motions going from the center of the face and moving outward. 
  • Massage along the jaw to the hairline and down. 
  • Repeat the motion (outward and down) along the cheekbones and forehead as you make your way up the face. 
  • When it comes to your eye area, use extra care with this delicate skin. Lightly massage under the eyebrow toward the hairline and down; repeat the motion under the eye.

Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage for Skin Health

Research is limited when it comes to the benefits of lymphatic massage on the face. But those who practice this type of massage say it can reduce puffiness, swelling, and inflammation while improving blood circulation. This can be especially useful for those who are recovering from cosmetic procedures like face lifts or dermal fillers. 

Whether or not it can improve wrinkles or fight other signs of aging is undetermined. Here’s what we know about what lymphatic drainage does for body, which may support skin health:

1. Improves Blood Circulation

Studies have shown that manual lymphatic drainage improves blood circulation in the skin due to an increase in interstitial pressures.3 Not only does improved circulation help to relieve swelling in the face, but it also ensures that oxygen and other nutrients can reach skin cells and tissues for a more radiant complexion and faster scar healing.    

2. Reduces Inflammation

Lymphatic vessels are said to be the main transport route for inflammatory mediators.4 Manually stimulating the lymphatic system through massage may help reduce this inflammation, potentially easing symptoms of inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, acne, and even UV damage

3. Hydrates Skin

In the same way that lymphatic drainage massage clears the pathway for oxygen and nutrients to reach skin cells, the same is true for hydration. Not only does this type of massage facilitate the movement of toxins and waste outside of the body, it can also help the skin better absorb topical products like hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant.  

While more research is needed to prove lymphatic drainage can benefit your skin health aesthetically, it is worth noting that the massage itself is a powerful stress reliever. And stress is an established trigger for acne, dark circles, flare-ups of rosacea and psoriasis, and premature aging.

How to Incorporate Lymphatic Drainage Into Your Skincare Routine

Feel free to practice lymphatic drainage massage on your face every day, but be sure you’re applying gentle pressure and using a moisturizer to help your fingers (or tool) glide over your skin. A lymphatic drainage massage is not to be confused with a facial massage, which focuses on the muscles below the lymphatic vessels. A lymphatic drainage massage does not need to penetrate as deeply.

Consider pairing your lymphatic drainage massage with Foundation Skincare’s Hyaluronic Acid Lotion, which is suitable for all skin types. Hyaluronic acid seals in moisture and hydrates on a deeper level for healthy, vibrant skin. For even more anti-inflammatory effects, the product also contains shea butter and extracts of chamomile, green tea, and olive.

Hyaluronic acid pairs well with other FS products, such as FS Niacinamide Lotion, which also suppresses inflammation while boosting keratin production, and FS Vitamin C to brighten skin while encouraging collagen synthesis. 

Explore the full Foundation Skincare collection and find more resources on how to support your skin health in the FS Journal.

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