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Say the word “massage,” and I’m there. Seriously, there really isn’t a single day that a kink in my neck, tight shoulder or sore calves from a hard run won’t have me saying “yes, please” to a professional helping me to feel a bit more relaxed.
But when I heard about lymphatic drainage massage, I didn’t jump at the change to try it, because it sounded a little more complicated and clinical than reflexology or a deep tissue massage. However, lymphatic drainage massage actually has major benefits, and might be just the treatment to help you get things flowing. Here is everything you need to know about lymphatic drainage massage — you’re going to want to book one immediately.
This particular treatment addresses the lymph nodes, which are throughout the body and act as a filter for harmful substances like toxins and viruses. This sort of massage can be done anywhere on the body, but typically focuses on the face, jawline, and neck, according to Dr. Kim Peirano, a doctor of acupuncture and Chinese medicine, as well as a licensed acupuncturist.
“I find lymphatic drainage particularly effective for a patient who has significant under-eye bags—puffiness or darkness—or for someone who has edema (swelling) in the body or face,” she says. “It is great at moving that fluid through the body more efficiently.”
Peirano says most people seek it out for beauty concerns, like the aforementioned puffy eyes and face. But there are a few other conditions the treatment can address as well.
“Lymphatic massage has been shown to be beneficial to people with skin disorders, frequent migraines, body pain (e.g. arthritis), depression and digestive issues,” Peirano says. “So it’s something that can benefit practically anyone whether you have an issue with lymph nodes directly or not.”
Peirano explains that the act of moving lymph—a fluid that contains white blood cells and is processed through lymph nodes—through the body improves blood flow and circulation, therefore causing an effect on every organ system in the body.
“Improving the blood flow and circulation will not just improve the area you’re working on but also the entire body which results in an improvement in other conditions and the overall health of the patient,” she says, likening the treatment to acupuncture, which also improves the flow of blood, energy and lymph and results in improved organ function and decreased negative symptoms in a patient.
If you’re reading about lymphatic drainage massage benefits and thinking it sounds like a lot like those related to using a jade roller, you’re not wrong. Like lymphatic drainage massage, a jade roller—the handheld massagers with a jade stone head at either end—is said to boost blood circulation and reduce swelling and puffiness.
“Inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, the jade roller has been used to help improve blood circulation and elasticity of the skin,” says Parisa Morris of Town & Anchor, a Chicago-based skincare company. “It’s an affordable, convenient skincare tool that leaves your skin feeling and looking healthier and younger. Jade rollers also boost collagen production and flush out toxins via lymphatic drainage for a smoother-looking complexion.”
So, while each of these methods differs in how it is performed, the end goal of boosting blood flow puts them in the same category.
Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a Boston-based dermatologist, explains that the massage is typically made of a series of gentle flowing strokes along the skin surface. If you want to give it a shot, you can visit a licensed massage therapist or certain spas who often the treatment.
But you can also try it at home. If you are up for the DIY method, then consider these tips shared with InStyle by Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skin Care Collection.
“Start at the base of the neck, on the sides where your arteries are,” says Vargas. Next, she says to massage in gentle circles upwards, towards the jaw, up the sides of the face, and around the eyes. “This will help coax nutrients into the tissue.”
Which is really reason enough to give a shot, right?
This article originally appeared on Instyle.com