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How Does Lymphatic Drainage Work? Answers From an Expert

How Does Lymphatic Drainage Work

Initially I was introduced to Lisa from you. Yes, YOU. The audience told me that I just HAD to stalk her. You guys were so passionate about this so I did just that.

She is an author, lymphatic self-care educator ( she has classes !! ), & she is certified in manual lymphatic drainage & lymphedema.

Her new book, The Book of Lymph: Self-care Practices to Enhance Immunity, Health & Beauty is all about wellness from the lymph system’s point of view.

As you guys know I’m obsessed with the lymph system so getting to meet Lisa & talk to her on the podcast was A DREAM. Lisa is also on the blog today answering some of our burning questions.

In this post Lisa is gonna give us all the juice on the lymph system & weight loss, lymphatic drainage for boob health & who should be doing lymphatic drainage. Spoiler alert: it’s everyone.

Without further ado, let’s welcome Lisa to the blog.

How Does Lymphatic Drainage Work? Answers From an Expert

Lisa Gainsley

Introduce yourself to the audience.

Lisa Gainsley: Hi, I’m Lisa. I was born & raised in Los Angeles. I’m obsessed with traveling, good food, nature, laughing my ass off, & wellness experiences.

I discovered lymphatic drainage when I was in massage school in the early 90’s in Marin County. Once I learned lymphatic massage was beneficial for cancer patients I knew I found my life’s work ( my momma died of lung cancer when I was 13 ).

I’ve worked at UCLA Medical Center & have been in private practice for over 20 years. I’ve seen nearly everything under the sun. People come to me to look & feel better in their bodies, but what they find is that their digestion improves, their congestion goes away & so do other pesky issues such as inflammation, PMS, & symptoms from Lyme & Lupus get better too.

I also have young people come to me because they want to avoid the chronic conditions their parents face. What I love about lymphatic drainage is the more you do it, the more benefits you will feel- & you can do it on yourself, at home for free! I teach classes online & the results people experience are mind-blowing & super rewarding to witness. My goal is to empower people to take their health into their own hands & learn simple, time effective ways to feel great without the high cost of expensive spas & practitioners.

Why is the lymph system so ignored?

LG: I think people just don’t know much about it. It’s often not taught in school the way the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, & immune system are. I’m hoping that changes soon! Also, historically the lymphatic system is so microscopic, it’s been hard to detect.

Thankfully now we have the technology to see the lymph vessels & vasculature. Scientists are finding genes that may be involved in hereditary disorders, & uncovering ways lymph is involved in neuro-degenerative diseases. They are also demonstrating that proper lymph function plays a role in nearly every chronic health issue- & cracking this system can have huge potential to help millions of people worldwide. It’s a fascinating time to be in the field of lymphatic health.

benefits of lymphatic drainage

What are some benefits of lymphatic drainage?

LG: Benefits of lymphatic drainage include: reduces inflammation & bloating, circulates immune cells, flushes excess toxins, bacteria & viruses, improves digestion, promotes glowing skin, aids in recovery from injuries, surgeries & side effects of cancer treatment, fibromyalgia & chronic fatigue, helps calm the nervous system, improves energy, helps reduce joint pain & brain fog, improves the appearance of cellulite, reduces symptoms such as earaches, headaches & sinus pressure, helps the appearance of acne- The list goes on & on!

Who needs lymphatic drainage the most?

LG: Everyone! Whether you are interested in the immune boosting benefits of lymph massage, or have recently gone through cancer treatment or if you’re hoping to find relief from pesky ailments such as sinus congestion, bloating, digestive issues, headaches, PMS, joint pain, inflammation, or are looking to get a slimmer waistline or glowing skin, lymphatic drainage is for you!

Talk to us about lymph drainage in the boob area. I hear it’s really good for your tits! 

LG: I wrote an entire section on this subject in The Book of Lymph! It’s so important that we start to really look at how we can proactively take care of our breasts before a problem arises. So many women live with dense, hard, fibrocystic breasts & we don’t think to massage them ourselves.

It’s important to note that lymphatic practitioners require permission before working in this area- & it’s performed above the breast & on the side waist ( not the nipple or areola ).

Lots of women get painful, swollen breasts when they’re menstruating, or ovulating & lymph massage can be very beneficial to help increase lymphatic circulation. Also, women tend to gain weight in this area when they are in perimenopause or menopause. So learning some self-massage techniques can help mitigate swollen painful breasts. I’ve had clients tell me that their breast density decreased on their mammogram from a regular self-care practice.

lymph drainage in the boob area | How Does Lymphatic Drainage Work

Lymphatic self-massage can be good for women who are breastfeeding too ( just make sure you massage after you feed or pump ).

Certified Lymphedema Therapists are trained to work with people who’ve had breast cancer.

Often lymph nodes are removed during treatment or radiated skin can comprise the lymphatic system & can lead to swelling or lymphedema. Certified therapists work with clients to “re-route” the lymph system manually to help keep fluid moving to other lymph node clusters.

I like to teach breast self-care to empower people to take their health into their own hands. Since this is a sensitive, private area that’s often taboo in our culture.

How can someone find a good lymph drainage specialist? What should someone be looking for? 

LG: I like to first ask; What are your goals?

If you are looking for someone who has experience in the immune boosting benefits, or you have a health issue you’re working on ( including cancer ) then find yourself a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. They are the ones who’ve been Vodder trained & use the acronym MLD ( Manual Lymphatic Drainage ). Click this link to find someone in your area.

If you’re simply looking for aesthetic benefits ( slimmer waistline, cellulite reduction, etc. ) you might hear the words “contour” or “lymphatic” & see places that also use machines with their treatment. There are a lot of spas popping up who are adding this modality to their menu. My best advice is to try to get a recommendation from someone who’s been there before or see if you get a good vibe from their website & just be open to trying a few places before you land on the person you trust.

There’s also some wonderful facialists who are trained in lymphatic facials. I like someone who is Vodder trained here too.

Lymphatic Drainage for weight loss

I’ve heard there are benefits for weight loss. Is this true?

LG: Yes! Although it’s mostly water weight the first time, eventually when you continue to work with your lymphatic system, digestion improves because excess waste in the body isn’t stagnant on a regular basis.

It’s important to note, with anything you try, that you clean up other areas in order to get the most benefits. Drink more water, eat clean, exercise, get good sleep, mitigate stress, & cut back on fast food, fried food, alcohol, salt, refined sugar, breads, & other processed foods.

I like lymph drainage for my face because I feel like it tightens skin. Can you walk us through the process of how that happens?

LG: If your lymph system is congested, it will be reflected in your skin – think puffy eyes, saggy chin & fine lines. Since a large number of lymph nodes are located near your ears & under your chin, in your neck, a lymphatic facial drainage can help revitalize your skin, regenerate cells & leads to healthy glow because you are eliminating toxins.

If you’ve ever had any dental work done & experienced swelling, call your lymphatic therapist! There’s a study that shows that lymph drainage can reduce postoperative swelling & pain from dental surgery making it common sense to use lymphatic drainage to reduce any facial puffiness post-surgery.

Another study revealed for the first time that impaired function of dermal lymphatic vessels leads to accumulation of subcutaneous fat, which ultimately causes “sagging” of the skin. So, you’re correct, lymph massage can help contour your face, which is why people look thinner after lymph massage.

How can we do this on ourselves at home?

LG: I have free tutorials on my Instagram @thelymphaticmessage.

My book, The Book of Lymph, is full of sequences to learn how to work on yourself. I also have a digital course called The Lymphatic MasterClass where I will teach you all things Lymph… whether you are interested in learning how to care for yourself or if you’re a health practitioner or fitness coach looking for tips to pass onto your clients. In my digital course I’ll be hosting monthly LIVE sessions in addition to the pre-recorded content. So you can learn at your own pace from anywhere in the world.

I created a $100 discount code for your listeners!!!!

You can sign up here & use code LYMPH100 for $100 off the course- launching early September.

The Book of Lymph: Self-care Practices to Enhance Immunity, Health & Beauty

Tell us about your book? What can we expect?

LG: It’s called The Book of Lymph: Self-care Practices to Enhance Immunity, Health & Beauty. It’s a first-of-its-kind guide on how to maintain lymphatic health based on the five-minute self-massage techniques I originally developed for my high-powered Los Angeles clientele.

It’s chock full of tips on how to reduce bloating, headaches, earaches, anxiety, weight loss, acne, inflammation, digestive problems as well as how to get glowing skin & strengthen the immune system.

Basically it’s an intro for anyone interested in the basics of what  lymph is, with concrete tools to help you cultivate a body free of pain & lethargy, activate a calmer state of being, & boost overall glow—in just five minutes a day.  

Where can everyone find you? Pimp yourself out!

LG: I’m everywhere!

I think you’ve done an epic job of pimping me out already!!!  Super grateful to you for all your support!! You are so generous, XX

I’m mostly on Insta: @thelymphaticmessage 

My website:

& I have a digital course launching here

Use code LYMPH100 for $100 off the course

May you be in good Lymphatic Health always,

XX, Lisa

If you guys are into the lymph system ( I’m OBSESSED ), be sure to check out Lisa on The Skinny Confidential HIM & HER podcast.

& if you want more on the lymph system be sure get a copy of GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE SUN. There are a ton of tips when it comes to facial massage, gua sha & ice rolling which are all incredible for…you guessed it…lymphatic drainage.

x, lauryn

+ tips for finding a lymphatic drainage facialist in your city.

++ find out what causes a puffy face & swollen eyes.


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