Lymphatic Drainage

A hands-on modality for cosmetic and plastic surgery body care


We are seeing an increase in requests for lymphatic drainage appointments with cosmetic and plastic surgeries such as liposuctions, liposculpture, the Brazilian butt lift, facelifts, excess skin removal, and general skin tightening procedures. That is because lymphatic drainage can help relieve the swelling that regularly occurs with cosmetic operations, which subsequently helps improve the healing process and decreases pain. The physical therapy sessions used for musculoskeletal surgeries are not readily available for cosmetic or plastic surgeries, but lymphatic drainage is.

Lymphatic drainage has provided many estheticians, massage therapists, bodyworkers, and cosmetologists new income and employment opportunities in a market where other spa or bodywork services for a post-cosmetic or plastic surgery client are extremely limited.

Because this service can provide pain relief to a suffering client, it is rewarding for both the client and practitioner.

The Long-Standing Ease of Lymphatic Drainage Practice

Lymphatic drainage is a hands-on modality that is about 100 years old. These are not new techniques. Often referred to as Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD, a session is engaged by pumping joints when working on the arms or legs. Then, physical application of hand movements on bare skin is applied and repeated. It is simple to learn, easy to perform, and many techniques can be administered while sitting down.

Because this service can provide pain relief to a suffering client, it is rewarding for both the client and practitioner. And adding lymphatic drainage to your repertoire can also diversify your professional work routine to avoid boredom and burnout from more traditional services.

How does lymphatic drainage work?

One of the body’s instinct reflexes to surgery, physical trauma, or invasive procedure is to swell. Swelling brings all the goods to help us heal. However, our bodies tend to overreact sometimes and provide too much swelling. Excessive swelling can cause pain or even create secondary injury.

Our goal in lymphatic drainage bodywork is to simply reduce excess swelling. In addition to manual techniques applied directly to the client’s bare skin, the practitioner will usually elevate the affected area, such as an arm, leg, or face above the client’s heart, to help it further drain.

Beyond post-surgical treatments, lymphatic drainage can temporarily relieve fine lines and wrinkles of the face. It can also help relieve any form of puffiness or bruising that may occur with laser treatments, tattooing, dermabrasion, peels, burns, excessive exfoliation, needling treatments, or cosmetic injections as long as active bleeding, infection, and a few other contraindications are not present. It is the ultimate wellness session, given its non-invasive approach. Some clients even enjoy a basic lymphatic drainage routine for overall well-being.

A comprehensive course in lymphatic drainage can provide application techniques, physiology of how the lymphatic system works, a complete list of indications and contraindications, plus the science that proves the health benefits.

The Perfect Client

Clients who seek expensive plastic surgeries regularly do not mind spending a few hundred dollars more for lymphatic drainage appointments to relieve their pain and increase their chance of a speedy recovery. Post-surgery cosmetic clients are commonly recuperating at home and do not want to be seen in public. Accordingly, a practitioner can provide home visits for an upcharge if desired. Most clients can receive daily lymphatic drainage sessions for up to 2+ weeks post-surgery for the best result. And perhaps most important of all is that many of these clients cannot wait for your work or visit. You will become the highlight of their very lonely and painful day.

How can I start practicing lymphatic drainage?

Lymphatic drainage requires very little investment after initial training. Usually, whatever you need to provide a lymphatic drainage session is already used within your practice to provide other appointments, such as a table, sheets, bolster, or pillow.

What more should I know about the practice of lymphatic drainage?

You should check with your state licensing board to ensure that lymphatic drainage bodywork is included within your scope of practice before training or practicing. For estheticians and cosmetologists, lymphatic facial services may be an option if body sessions are prohibited within your licensed trade.

Keep notes about which techniques and formulas were successful (or not) with your lymphatic drainage clients. Noting what worked best with each client and condition will help advance your skill level for more successful appointments and healing. Practice makes perfect so once you are trained, work on healthy clients first or those with minimally invasive procedures before accepting more compromised medical situations such as postsurgical clients.

Lymphatic drainage can be fairly monotonous in application after extensive practice time. This monotony of experience will prove valuable once your postsurgical appointments start. Even after 25+ years of lymphatic drainage practice, I am still stunned sometimes over what I see or find. Being able to provide a robotic treatment while in shock over what I am seeing has proved helpful.

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