Amongst the workout trends taking over FitTok are countless TikTokers massaging their way to de-puffing and sculpted bliss. ICYMI, I’m referring to the uber trendy concept known as lymphatic drainage massage, AKA the holy grail of naturally flushing out toxins, revving up the immune system, rejuvenating cellular function, and minimizing excess fluid retention and bloat.
So how does it actually work? Think of the lymphatic system as the body’s “sewage system,” whose purpose is to help detoxify and get rid of damaged cells, bacteria, or toxins (read more about the lymphatic system here). With the helping hand of a gua sha, dry brush, or your literal hands, you can manually manipulate specific areas of your body to encourage the flow of (read: drain) lymphatic fluid toward the lymph nodes where it’s filtered and fed back into the bloodstream. Bottom line: You can take a DIY approach to boosting the health of your lymphatic system with simple tools. Read on for a mini tutorial on trying it for yourself—be it your face or body—products and all.
Bye bye, swelling and puffiness. Hello there, cheekbones and defined jawline! Moving excess fluid out of the facial area translates to a de-puffing, swelling-reduction, dullness-combating effect (albeit temporary). Proponents of facial lymphatic drainage massages can’t get enough of the wellness trend thanks to the glowing, healthier-looking complexion it leaves (if it’s a J.Lo-worthy glow, consider me sold). Other benefits include aiding in improving blood circulation, bringing fresh nutrients to the skin through blood flow, supporting healthy cell production, and taking time for self-care. To give some TLC to your face, use the tips of your fingers or a massage tool to work your lymphatic system, starting in the middle of the face and working up and out towards the ears, before gently bringing it down the neck.
I’m not a specialist in lymphatic drainage, I’ve seen this technique on TikTok, and internet how to open lymphatic nodes. I’ve recently started doing it, but i only do it when I have extra time🥰 #guasha #lymphaticdrainage #slimmerface #stayyoung #lookyounger #massage
♬ original sound – Skinfluencer
You’ve likely seen before-and-after pics of lymphatic drainage massage recipients (namely their abdomens) and that alone was enough to convince you to take a stab at it (I don’t blame you). The reasoning behind the contoured look? Lymphatic drainage may help reduce water retention and bloat, which may have a temporary visual slimming effect. And the perks don’t stop there: throw in enhancing the immune system, stimulating the digestive system, and potentially minimizing PMS symptoms like headaches and pelvic pains.
And if you don’t want to buy anything at all…
Your hands and some body oil can get the job done too (a mirror might be helpful as well, especially if you’re new to the technique). When performing a lymphatic self-massage, using slow, gentle, and rhythmic strokes and applying them in the direction of the lymph node, or upward, are key. According to a Vogue interview with lymphatic massage expert Flavia Lanini, begin by pressing on the area just below your collarbones to get the drainage started, then press the armpit three times on both sides. Next, shift your focus to the arms and stroke from the elbow to the shoulder on both sides.
To give it a go on your stomach, Rebecca Faria, a licensed lymphatic drainage specialist and founder of Detox By Rebecca, gave a how-to in an interview with InStyle: Start by opening your lymph nodes with light presses, then make circular, clockwise movements around your navel, followed by consecutive up-and-down movements, from your stomach to your lymph nodes. “Then, turn to one side of your body and, using both hands, make pushing movements from the side towards the lymph nodes,” she explained. Don’t forget about the other side!
Finally, to massage the legs, lay the palm of your hands right at the crease of one thigh, and move upwards toward the navel in a wave-like motion. Repeat on the other leg.
And because nothing is more satisfying than sweating it out, give your lymphatic system a leg up by using an infrared sauna blanket before your hands-on treatment. By stimulating your lymphatic system first to detox through sweat, your body is better able to remove toxins at a cellular level while preparing your lymph nodes for more effective drainage.
lymphatic drainage stomach massages have made such a big difference in my swelling, water retention, & inflammation! I feel the best results when I do this lying down so that my stomach is completely relaxed 💛 I always make sure to drink plenty of water after this too! #wellnesstok #wellnesshabits #wellness #healthyhabits
♬ Storytelling – Adriel