Everywhere we turn lately, we’ve been hearing about lymphatic drainage massages.
It feels like all the celebrities from Kim Kardashian West to Devon Windsor to Ellie Goulding are getting them, but what do they actually do? If you feel like you’re too late to the game to ask the basic questions (like… what actually is lymphatic drainage?), don’t worry — we’ve got you! CR sat down with Miami-based celebrity lymphatic drainage massage therapist Camila Perez to discuss everything from the massage’s benefits to how to do it yourself if you don’t have access to a lymphatic drainage massage therapist. She’s worked with everyone from Kardashian to Behati Prinsloo to Bella Hadid.
Let’s start with the basics: what is a lymphatic drainage massage? It’s a manual technique to increase blood and lymph flow to facilitate drainage to the lymph nodes and stimulate cell turnover. While the main purpose is to reduce edema, it reduces inflammation all over the body.
“We noticed that it’s also beneficial to prevent many diseases as well. When you have lymphatic drainage, you increase the number of defense cells in your body, so it’s great for your immune system,” Perez said.
How did lymphatic drainage become so popular? It’s long been a popular technique in Perez’s home country of Brazil (she was missing it when she moved to the United States, and that’s how she got into lymphatic drainage massages as a career here), and it has quickly become a go-to part of our beauty routine for many. While its benefits draw in many, the popularity amongst models also helped it gain traction here.
“It became popular with Victoria’s Secret models because we have a lot of Brazilian models that used to get it in Brazil, and they started talking about it,” Perez said. “The majority of my clients come because of their curiosity or seeing immediate results.”
But it’s more than just a beauty trend; it also has significant health benefits for many.
“We can work on clients that had lymph nodes removed or cancer surgery, especially in women. It’s very common after a mastectomy, but we also can work with healthy clients to manage cellulite, bloating, PMS symptoms,” Perez said. “It helps manage the swelling and that discomfort. Hormonal changes will actually cause what we call normal water retention.”
And that’s what lymphatic drainage massages target: water retention. Through activating the lymph nodes and lymphatic drainage, we detox our bodies and eliminate water retention. For maximum results, Perez shared that you have to be committed in the long run. It’s not something you necessarily come in to do one time; she recommends a weekly or biweekly treatment if possible. If you’re someone who doesn’t retain a lot of fluid, she says you can get away with a massage once a month, but someone coming in to treat cellulite for example would be better off coming in weekly or every two weeks.
For anyone who doesn’t have access to a lymphatic drainage massage therapist, you’re still in luck. You can still give yourself a lymphatic drainage massage, and Perez walked us through it. You don’t necessarily need any tools — though wooden paddles are sometimes used, you can use your hands.Perez says the number one thing she recommends using is the Clarins Contour Body Treatment Oil. The brand makes products specifically for lymphatic drainage.
“The oil is easy to apply. You can apply after your shower, and that way you stimulate your lymphatic system. The good news about the lymphatic system, especially the part that drains the skin, is that it’s very superficial. So, a very light touch can be enough to stimulate. So you can work a little bit on the areas that have the lymph nodes,” Perez said. “You can massage your neck area, your arm, your groin area. That’s how you increase the filtration on the lymph nodes.”
Perez shared that you can also supplement with the Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil for skin elasticity (whereas the contouring oil is designed for drainage in particular). As for applying the oil, use upward movements, Perez recommends. She likes to apply oil after a shower, always using a light touch (it’s not a deep tissue massage).
“Always towards the heart center,” Perez said about massaging and applying oil. “Start at your feet to your groin area, or from your hands towards your armpit. That’s how you can increase your lymphatic drainage at home.”
Perez also has a collection of videos on Instagram that users can watch to learn more about lymphatic drainage and giving themselves at-home massages.
“I compare it to going to an esthetician to get your facials,” Perez said about giving yourself a lymphatic drainage massage. “[Going to a massage therapist] is basically like going to a facialist versus doing your skincare at home. At home, you can definitely benefit from it, especially if you do it consistently.”
So while your at-home facial may not be as effective as your esthetician’s and your at-home lymphatic drainage massage may not be as effective as your massage therapist’s, you can still gain from the benefits it has to offer. Especially when sitting down staring at computer screens all day, a massage is helpful. It will make a real difference in your routine, Perez shared.
A lymphatic drainage massage isn’t a one-size-fits-all routine, either. Depending on which area you’re trying to drain, you’ll want to sit or stand while massaging.
“For the face, being laid out is bad because you drain down from the top of your head down to your clavicle. Laying down is not good for the face, but it is for the body,” Perez said. “You can definitely elevate your legs and do some movement from the ankle to your groin area while laid down with your legs elevated. It’s also a good position to facilitate lymphatic drainage.”
The one thing Perez wants everyone to know about lymphatic drainage massages is that anyone can benefit from getting one, whether they are healthy or sick. It can prevent disease, help with detoxification, and stay balanced.
“The lymphatic system is a little neglected, so not everybody knows how important it is,” Perez said. “It’s important to be aware of it, and to stimulate it. As we talk a lot about the blood, it’s very important to talk about the lymphatic system too.”
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