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How to Perform Lymphatic Drainage Massage

How to Perform Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Using pressure on the skin’s surface, a lymphatic drainage massage facilitates the draining of lymph nodes.

What is lymphatic drainage?

Your body’s lymphatic system aids in waste removal. The smooth muscle tissue’s inherent motions are utilized by a robust and functional lymphatic system to accomplish this.

However, lymphedema—a disorder where fluid accumulates in your lymph system and lymph nodes—can be brought on by surgery, illnesses, or other trauma.

If you’ve ever had surgery on your lymph nodes or elsewhere, your doctor might have advised lymphatic drainage massage New Orleans from a licensed physical therapist or massage therapist.

It is not advised for anyone with the following disorders to have lymphatic massage:

  • congestive heart failure
  • history of blood clots or stroke
  • current infection
  • liver problems
  • kidney problems


A side effect of procedures that alter or remove your lymph nodes is lymphedema.

The only place lymphedema will appear is close to the surgery site.

For instance, lymphedema may only affect your left arm and not your right if you had lymph nodes removed after cancer surgery on your left breast.

Additionally, trauma or illnesses such blood clots in the body or congestive heart failure (CHF) can cause lymphedema.

Lymphatic massage, which applies light pressure, helps discharge waste products from the injured area. It’s one method for minimizing lymphedema.

Physical therapist and certified lymphedema specialist Raakhee Patel, PT, DPT, CLT, teaches patients how to massage their own lymph nodes following surgery.

According to Patel, “we don’t talk about lymphedema enough.” Fluid accumulation hurts and makes the affected area feel heavy and uncomfortable. Furthermore, “Stage 3 lymphedema can be devastating,” according to Patel, resulting in severe despair and immobility that may make recovery more difficult.

It’s crucial to rub the affected area as well as other areas when doing a lymphatic massage. Near the left shoulder is where the body’s lymphatic system empties, with the exception of the head, right side of the chest, and right arm. For a massage to drain well, all areas should be massaged.

Clearing and reabsorption

Clearing and reabsorption are the two phases of lymphatic massage that Patel teaches. The goal of clearing is to gently pressurize an area to produce a vacuum and prepare it to receive more fluid, which will have the flushing effect.

Clearing involves:

The lymph nodes under the collarbone are called the supraclavicular lymph area, and the lymph nodes within the elbows are called the axillary lymph area.

You can perform clearing motions up to ten times every day. “Always massage both sides of your body, not just the side with lymphedema,” suggests Patel.

A guide to clearing

The clearing process has three phases. Make sure to clear the inner-elbow, axillary, and supraclavicular regions in that sequence.

To free the area above the collarbone:

  • Start by lying down on a level, comfortable surface.
  • Place your hands slightly below your collarbones and fold your arms across your chest.
  • Next, gradually raise your elbows. As much force as is necessary to get the area ready for lymphatic fluid flushing is applied to the muscles.

Next, clear the axillary area:

  • Place a single hand over your head.
  • Gently scrape the underarm region from top to bottom with your other hand. Just enough pressure to shift the skin’s surface is needed.

Finally, clear the area inside the elbows:

  • Arm straightened, place it by your side.
  • One inch at a time, carefully pull the skin inside the elbow with the fingers of your other hand.

All that is needed is extremely light pressure. Because the fluid is contained there, “you’re only working the superficial skin structure” during lymphatic massage.

For more information about Cynosure Care, including the process and recovery, contact us at (504) 202-8183 or use the form below to arrange a consultation with Dr. Tiffyin C. Taylor.

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