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Alllll About Lymphatic Drainage Massage

The Skinny Confidential talks Asia.

All About Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Oh em gee, where do I evennnn start?!

You guys know I’ve been captivated ( SLASH OBSESSED ) with the way the lymphatic system works. & on top of that, dry brushing has become an everyday routine for me. The process is so stimulating & is super invigorating ( especially in the AM ).

Anyway, in the past year & a half I’ve been reading up on manual lymphatic drainage massage. Here’s my weird thing though: the thought of someone touching my lymph nodes really grosses me out.

I don’t know why.

( You know how you have strange, bizarre shit that you don’t like? For instance I HATE ( HATE HATE HATE HATE ) getting out of the shower if there’s stray hairs on the floor/mat. GOOSEBUMPS. Stepping on random hair(s) is the equivalent to walking across a moat with 23420 alligators and a million sharks with my eyes closed. It just gives me the hibbie jibbies ).

If you’re weirded out at my strangeness, don’t worry- I weird myself out on a regular basis.

So. Lymph nodes, Lymph fluid, Lymph vessels. To me, they’re sort of an unknown & super tender, so the thought of a stranger touching them…FREAKS ME THE F OUT.

Quick anatomy info:  Our lymph system is a network of organs, nodes, ducts, and vessels that transport lymph — a lymphatic fluid containing white blood cells, proteins, and fats — from your tissues into your bloodstream. Lymph nodes are structures that produce immune cells to combat infection and filter lymph fluid to remove bacteria and cancer cells.  Our lymph system is a crucial line of protection against infections. {source:  Refinery29 }

I’ve heard so many unbelievable reviews about manual lymph drainage massage, it is a type of massage that has been said to improve blood vessels circulation, removal of waste products, and reduces swelling, that I figured Asia was the perfect place to try it ( apparently they’re known for this specific massage ).   When we arrived to Hong Kong I wasn’t feeling so hot. I’d been working non-stop around the clock, not sleeping well, & definitely had a sniffle or ten.

During a lymphatic drainage massage, a massage therapist stretches your skin with a gentle pressure in order to “allow for congestion, deposits and debris to flow from the body,” Carey says. Technically, your lymph nodes are your body’s biological filtration system as it perform lymphatic drainage mass, so they do this naturally. But the belief is that by manually applying pressure to areas around your vessels and lymph nodes, you can sort of speed up the process, or give your lymph nodes a leg up.

So I booked a lymphatic drainage massage.


Ok, I’ve had A LOT of massage because of constant neck pain. When I was nineteen I was involved in a horrible, horrible car accident where the other driver T-boned us HARD. I’ve been stuck with lateral whiplash ever since. Medical massage has been my best friend.

This massage though?

This massage technique was different.

This massage was weird.

This massage was amazing.

This is massage therapy.

So here’s how the process works: you lay down, face down…per usual & the masseuse gently massages your lymph nodes with light pressure that stimulate the lymphatic system. It’s not a deep tissue massage like I normally prefer but the after effects were so insane that it was worth every second.

Picture this: it was a couple’s massage. Michael’s next to me getting a head massage ( get that mind out of the gutter, he was getting his scalp massaged by a burly man ). After massaging my lymphs in my legs & arms, the masseuse flips me over & starts on my under eyes. At this point I’m so relaxed I fall asleep, fully snoring. With four people in the room. Michael tells me afterwards he couldn’t relax & it sounded like a wildebeest was next to him.

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Back to the massage details: she massages under my eyes gently, by my eye sockets, & the sides of my eyes. I am dead asleep. ALL OF A SUDDEN I AM WOKEN UP by a flush. There’s a drainage detox throughout my body ( it was an orgasmic-like flush— kind of like endorphins running through the body ). My sinuses immediately drained. It also felt like fluid drained ( by the way guys, we’re going for authentic in this post, not hot & sexy ) from my eyes, feels the muscles relaxed, down into my body. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT.

Afterwards I had a full-on cough attack on the massage table ( P.S. Michael is still in the room trying to have a relaxing head rub while I’m snoring, snorting, & coughing…#relatable ). The masseuse almost knew this would happen because she had a water bottle on hand. I drank the whole thing & then had to get up IMMEDIATELY to pee.

Like immediately, immediately.

When the lymph massage was done I asked her a billion questions:

Why did I cough?

Why did I have to pee?

What was draining? 

What are the effects?

How long does this last? 


Basically she said the cough was a natural reaction because of the movement of lymph fluids and the lymph system drains. It’s totally normal & it’s the body releasing toxins and excess fluid. The immediate need to pee? Even more normal. When you get a lymph drainage massage it cleans the toxins out & they release and move fluid in the flow of lymph through the kidneys. The draining was built up fluid so it reduces water retention. And the effects are clearing toxins out of the system while INSTANTLY de-puffing the under eyes like it stretches my skin. Instantly though, it’s crazy. The effects last for about a month. And how often can you get it done? She said once a month would be fine. The massage is known to relieve any pain levels and can reduce swelling.

Get this: after I perform a lymphatic massage, I did not have ANY puffiness under my eyes. You know how in the morning your eyes are puffy? NONE, ZIP, ZERO. Plus I was SO relaxed in an energetic way ( if that makes sense ) & I felt detoxed.  You may encounter discoloration of the skin but that is just temporary.

So naturally, the whole eye thing was mesmerizing because it was like a little balloon had been popped under my eyes. I went online & saw an article about Kate Middleton’s dark circles stating that lymph drainage would really help her under eyes. Weird right? If the princess needs lymph drainage massage, then I need freaking lymph drainage massage WAY more. LOL.

Other benefit from lymphatic drainage massage is it also improves the overall  health conditions in the circulatory system, and flushes toxins from the under arms, legs, pelvic area, & neck.  AHHH, I LOVE DETOXING.

By the way, I’ve heard this massage is ideal for people who just got surgery.  It is believed to enhance the immune system. You can read more here.  This process is also beneficial for people with chronic venous insufficiency as it improves the circulation of blood flow from the legs. This is not a substitute to cancer treatments.  So if you have like breast cancer, heart condition, kidney failure, have blood clots or you have your lymph nodes removed, please consult your doctor before doing this.

If you don’t have access to massage therapist or lymphatic drainage massage, follow this YouTube tutorial on how to do it at home & DRY BRUSH ( if you get one thing out of The Skinny Confidential, dry brush! ).

But also, get an ice roller. The Skinny Confidential HOT MESS ICE ROLLER is QUEEN when it comes to draining your face. YES, you can do lymphatic drainage on your face & let me tell ya…it’s a game-changer. More info here if you’re into a snatched, tight AF face.

Did I mention I love Asia? It’s such a special place.

Sending love from Phuket! xx

FYI: if you guys know anything about lymphatic massage, PLEASE give me more info. Obviously I am not super experienced with this kind of massage & I’m REAL interested in learning more. x

  1. Insane! I’ve always wanted to try this and after reading this, now I have to! I’ll let you know how it goes!!
    Flip Flops and Furs

  2. I too am grossed out by hair… Including my own especially in or out of the shower. Lol !! thanks for the laugh and interesting post!

  3. I remember my first lymphatic massage I might as well have slept on the toilet the night of.. I was peeing alllllllll night long! I loved it!!!!

  4. I know a bit about lymphatic drainage and I’ve been researching it for years – one thing I will say is a caution to anyone who has cancer, or who has had cancer, because cancer spreads via the lymph system and so massaging you lymph nodes would be dangerous.
    Not to worry you or anything….I do reallyyy love lymphatic drainage myself, in fact I have a whole folder on my email account full of videos of this stuff

    1. Lymphatic drainage massage is actually very good for many cancer survivors that have had to have lymph nodes removed- for example,a breast cancer survivor may have to have axillary (ie armpit) lymph nodes removed, which can cause the arm on that side of the body to chronically swell. Lymphatic massage encourages the lymphatic fluid to reenter circulation, allowing the patient more comfort.

      My aunt is a lymphatic masseuse and I’m amazed on what she was able to do on both my mom (a breast cancer survivor) as well as myself when I had a sinus infection

  5. I must try this out right now. I’m so serious. Booking one this second. Goodbye eyebags. It would be wonderful if you could write a post in a months time to see if you felt/saw a noticeable change for the month.
    Sophie xx

  6. Just a comment about concerns for anyone with a history of cancer getting a lymphatic drainage massage. One of the side effects of cancer surgery and radiation is damage to the lymphatic system which results in a chronic condition called Lymphedema. Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) is the mainstay of treatment for those patients, to help them reduce their swelling and pain, reduce the chances of infection, and be able to maintain their limb at its optimum size along with the use of compression garments, exercise and good skin care.

    There has long been speculation and fear that getting professional lymphatic drainage might increase chances of cancer spreading. Currently there is no clinical research studies or data to support this. Even a patient with Lymphedema and active cancer can still get the necessary MLD but the known tumor site may be avoided for any manipulation. If a patient with active Lymphedema does not get proper MLD and compression garments their Lymphedema will progress and has the potential to cause serious health issues.

    The excerpt below is taken directly from the American Cancer Society website:

    Last Medical Review: 01/10/2013
    Last Revised: 05/23/2013

    “A growing number of health care professionals recognize massage as a useful addition to conventional medical treatment. In a 1999 publication, the National Cancer Institute found that about half of their cancer centers offered massage as an adjunctive therapy to cancer treatment. Some studies of massage for cancer patients suggest that it can decrease stress, anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue. These potential benefits hold great promise for people who have cancer, who often must deal with the stresses of a serious illness in addition to unpleasant side effects of conventional medical treatment. While some evidence from research studies with cancer patients supports the use of massage for short-term symptom relief, additional research is needed to find out if there are measurable, long-term physical or psychological benefits.

    Meanwhile, most patients do indeed seem to feel better after massage, which may result in substantial relief. A 2005 review of research reported that massage therapy has been shown to reduce pain and anxiety in randomized controlled trials. Large, well-controlled studies are still needed to determine the long-term health benefits of massage.

    A special type of massage called manual lymph drainage (MLD) is done as part of Complex Decongestive Therapy (CDT), which is used to treat lymphedema after certain cancer surgeries. CDT also includes external compression garments, special exercises, and skin care. This treatment is usually done by lymphedema specialists rather than general-practice massage therapists. Studies suggest that outcomes of this 4-part treatment can be very good if started early enough.”

  7. Yes! I had one of these back in 2008 and OMG! it got all the toxins out of my back! I don’t think that i drank enough water after i had the massage because my throat was so inflamed and swollen over the next few days. But it was def worth it since my back muscles didn’t hurt as much. Glad you enjoyed it!

  8. For my monster undereye circles I do lymphatic massage on my eyes every night, sometimes with my finger in tiny gentle circles & then at the temple you press down towards the ear with some pressure to drain the pooling blood vessels to the lymph node. I also love love love my jade roller. I keep it in the fridge and use it all the time to refresh my eyes. Since you’re in Asia I am sure they have some great jade rollers 🙂 Love you, have fun!

  9. I have had a bad left leg since I was a small child–I have lymphedema. In my world no one even seems to know they have a lymph system. Never heard of message or dry brush–I’m sure to look into this.

    1. I was born with primary Lymphedema in my left leg as well. I’ve been doing compression garments and massage my whole life, although it is helpful, it is not nearly enough to keep the swelling down. I did recently get a “lypha-press” machine that I sit on all day while I am at work. It brings the fluid up by leg and really helps with the swelling. Here is the website:

      It’s the only thing I have ever found relief with in terms of my lymphedema. Unfortunately, there is still no cure for it and it usually swells again after a few hours of running around. I was able to tak it with me on a trip to Italy and it was my saving grace with all the walking I was doing.

      Primary lymphedema is very rare so I wanted to say hello as well! I’ve run into many people who get secondary lymphedema as a result of chemo, but usually not someone who was born with it like me.

    2. Kaci –I have a leg pump and I find the same results.
      It takes some of the fluid out but it all returns the next work day (I’m a teacher).
      Hoping some day they can give us some real relief.

  10. I live in Asia and I think I had lymphatic massage before but I don’t remember experiencing the flush or the coughing. Maybe mine wasn’t as effective? By the way, I’m heading to Phuket next month, which masseuse did you go to?

  11. For 3 years now, Ican’t smell fragrance or bad smells, either. I used to have frequent migraines. My right eye has a squint. My neck on my right side starts to hurt already and my collarbone, too. I thought that maybe it came from my bicycle accident where I hit my right shoulder on a phone pole in CA. Sometimes, I would spit something nasty out of my mouth that looks likea pellet of cottage cheese and it came from the right side, never the left side. I kept on asking my doctors for many years what I’m going through. *smh* So much for having faith in them.

    Anyway, coming upon this article just clicked something inside me, something that yells out, “Aha! That’s it!”

    I went straight to the tutorial and I saw many more videos on lymphatic drainage massage. I am hoping there’s a lymphatic drainage masseuse somewhere in my area.

    Now I have hope! 🙂

  12. I did the eye massage yesterday morning, and you couldn’t pay my nose to stop running the rest of the day. Feel pretty good today, though.

  13. Love all the posts on Thailand! I’d love to know more about where you got the massages and all the amazing food! Hopefully you can share more when you are back, these posts are making me want to visit there someday!

  14. It’s a very common massage in Brazil, I have it 3 time a week and get so annoying if I miss it. It treats water bloating, cellulite, and pains from bloating. It can slim down even 3 lbs in a session depending how bloated you are. It is not onlt detoxing as you said, it is actually the most efficient treatment for bloating. It is basically making your lymphatic sistem work a lot more. So instead of draining water as it wants, you are pushing it to work a lot faster and better. The drainage name comes from this, letting go of excess fluid (with will take toxins and detox yes)

  15. there’s a place in santa barbara that does lymph massages inside of a himalayan salt room! i want to try it so badly!!

  16. Thank you for the amazing review on this modality! I’m going for training and certification in Manual Lymphatic Drainage soon. For the US, to find a certified practitioner google LANA!

  17. Hey Lauren,

    Do you remember the name of the spa you went to for this? I am headed to HK next month and using your posts as a guide. I emailed the special Michelin sushi place you talked about already for a reso. Loving these recommendations.

  18. Just had a lymphatic drainage massage and found this blog because I was googling about after effects. I had specifically to target cellulite on my thighs. Found it very relaxing and needed the toilet afterwards but didn’t cough. Next time I think I’ll ask her to focus on my face too as I do often get puffy eyes. Sounds like your experience was amazing. I LOVE the idea of not having puffy eyes for a month!

  19. Did you get the massage while in Phuket? If so, can you tell me where you got the lymphatic massage at? I am traveling to Phuket and Bangkok in March and flying even with sleeves and a compression shirt still triggers my truncal lymphedema so I want to get a lymphatic massage when we arrive in Phuket. Thanks!!!

  20. Actually, you DON’T DO lymphatic drainage when you are recovering from surgery. And you don’t do lymphatic drainage when you are sick. The reason is that it can move illness around your body. I get lymph drainage weekly- and I had my gallbladder removed and I had to wait 3 months until I could resume for that reason. Other than that, it’s a great massage. It’s also feather light. It’s a touch that is so light that it’s above the muscle between the skin and the fascia. It really moves the lymph fluid by gently pulling up on the skin, releasing the stagnant fluid.

    1. Lymphatic massages are appropriate and highly recommended by numerous surgeons after plastic surgery (tummy tucks, liposuction, Brazilian butt lift, etc.).

  21. Great post lol! You are too funny! Lymphatic massage is good for releasing all those nasty toxins. If you get a lymphatic massage only on your face every week then you will start to look younger! Crazy but true! 🙂

  22. this sounds like a dream come true!!!! eyes de puffed no swollenness and general detox and better feeling in the sinus and lymphatic system.
    where can I go to have this treatment?

  23. OMG! I swear you are too funny! I was tickled by your article! Lymphatic massage is a light marshmallow pressure massage. Yes it drains your lymphatic fluids and toxins through your lymphatic sysytem. I personally likey signature massage! I guarantee you will be over joyed with it! If you are ever in Nashville look me up ! 🙂
    Nashville Massage Co.

  24. Ummm most people do not have an experience like this with lymphatic massage. It is critical that you drink a TON of water 48 hours before.

    After my massage I had headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting etc. For 3 days and counting. That’s a much more common reaction than what you’ve described here!

    This massage is not about relaxation. It’s about removing toxins from your body. It is most definitely not all sunshine and rainbows!

  25. I’ve been to Thailand but never experienced lymphatic drainage massage. The one I got was authentic Thai massage somewhere near the reclining Buddha in Bangkok. Reading your experience makes me want to try ti. I’m a sucker for massage and I’m glad there’s something new I can try during my next trip. Oh, and I have a persistent neck and back pain, that’s why.

  26. Absolutely!! My mom had this done and wow what an amazing effect it had on her. She had an amazing experience. She was treated by

  27. Lymphatic massage is so incredible, I’m happy you experienced all the wonder first hand 🙂 I wanted the kindly inform you (since I, myself am a LMT) that we are “massage therapists”, “masseuse” is a term that is more along the lines of the those erotic cough-massage-cough parlors ?. So it really saddens us after going to school, taking licensing exams, and maintaining professionalism to be referred to as such. Once again, I’m just trying educate you and the public on it, as you are not the only one who uses the term. Thank you, I’m so happy for you!

  28. Can you recommend a true lymph massage therapist in the Philadelphia area? I am a breast cancer survivor and cannot find a true lymph drainage massage therapist who understands how to do what you described. Pls help!

  29. I am from Malaysia and every month without failed, I will go for Lymphatic Massage and trust me, it is very good to heal the body. Plus, you can see the difference in terms of losing weight, feel lighter and also glowing skin.

  30. I love lymphatic massage! If you can get it done regularly on your face it can take 10 years of your face! I was taught by my professional teacher in massage school and it’s a wonderful light marshmallow pressure . ❤

  31. It can be so much more then draining toxins from the body… Combining it with mental release it can help relieve anxiety, repressed trauma, Guilt, Self Harm and clinical depression… And the list goes on… It’s a golden boy for both Physical and mental health if you ask me… And I just had my first one yesterday and today I’m a new man… This may not work for everyone but for me it was life changing… And on a side note mine was not performed in a normal service provided type scenario.. It was administered by a friend someone I felt physically completely comfortable with… Sexual in the beginning and slightly embarrassing near the end but like your experience it was so powerful nothing mattered because it was so incredibly freeing and detoxifying and overwhelming.. Coughing snorting and druling.. Are not the sexiest of physical reactions but the whole thing was beyond worth a little embarrassment…. If you get an opportunity to have this type of massage from someone you feel comfortable with and who has experience with psychology and mental health or depression take advantage of it and free your body and mind..

    You will be shocked at how much CRAP your carrying on your back…. And killing your self with….

  32. Does anyone have experience doing lymphatic massage on post-lipo/ Brazilian Butt Lift people? It’s difficult for them to lay on their butt and their stomach. Aside from doing it side to side, would a prenatal pillow work? That way, their butts can dangle in the hole. Sounds funny, but very serious. When i’m in BordeHill, UK clinic and I love their manual lymphatic drainage massage very much. Thanks

  33. It is interesting to read about the experience of another person. I have never done lymphatic drainage massage, but I know that not everyone can do it. After such massage in an unhealthy person, the thrombus can break off and get stuck in the vessel.

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  35. Hi Asia! Loved your post, did you also have the full body massage or that release was all done by the sinus area alone ?! I once got a massage in Vegas and the next day I felt like I had the flu !i never figured why that happened but I heard if you have a lot of toxicins in you that’s what happens ?! ?Does drainage of the Lympthaic system do that ? You also mentioned Medical Massages how do you bill that ??!!

  36. Sometimes you can feel ill after these massages. I get lymphatic drainage twice a week due to having lymph nodes removed in my neck and developing slight lympodema. I notice if i miss a week or two i feel sick for the entire day after. Like tired dehydrated and just down right icky!

  37. That’s for your article, I love the way you write. I looked it up because I have lipolymphodema and slowly trying learning about my lymph’s too. I did pool walking yesterday as the water is supposed to be a gentle natural way of massaging lymph nodes and holy hell, I have not stopped needing to pee – like alot. You should also try RLD. Reflexology for lymphatic drainage – I tried it and had that gushing waterfall feeling in my groin lymph’s. Pretty amazing.

  38. I think it’s great of you to point out that lymph massage clears out your toxins in your body. The part that interested me the most is your mention of clearing your sinuses after the massage. God knows I have blocked sinuses almost every day and it makes me look so tired all the time because of my stuffy nose. Now that I read your article, I can’t wait to see if this will work for me!

  39. Amazing blog! I really like the way you explained such information about “Lymphatic Drainage Massage” with us. And blog is really helpful for us. You can also visit “” if you are looking for someone for lymph drainage massage in Basel.

  40. If you liked the manual massage but don’t like people touching your lymph nodes, you would loooove light beam detox therapy

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