Lymphatic drainage massage is a specialty treatment designed to mechanically move fluid out of tissues. Lymphatic drainage massage is done through a light pumping movement on the skin that stimulates fluid movement into lymphatic vessels and out of tissue.

You might want to schedule a lymphatic drainage massage if you have experienced one or more of the following:


There are two types of lymphedema: primary and secondary. Primary lymphedema is a genetic disorder that results in a poorly developed lymphatic system. This leads to fluid sitting in tissue in one or more areas of the body. Secondary lymphedema happens when there is an interruption in the lymphatic system due to surgery or injury.

Secondary lymphedema is often caused by lymph node removal due to cancer or other illness. Lymph nodes are clusters or stations where lymph vessels flow in order to filter fluid.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage

There are limited medical resources once a patient has lymphedema. To be blunt, western medicine does not know what to do for lymphedema. At times, patients are not told what will exacerbate their lymphedema or how to care for it. If treatment is offered, it may include a set number (typically fewer than 30) appointments with a physical therapist. Physical therapy may or may not include lymphatic drainage massage, training in how to wrap the affected limb, compression sleeves or hose, and a pump.

Even with compression sleeves, a pump, and possible self-wrapping, continued drainage massage is needed. At S.M.R.T. Therapeutic Massage & Pain Relief we have found that the most effective treatment for secondary lymphedema is a combination of lymphatic drainage massage and SMRT (Spontaneous Muscle Release Technique) scar tissue release. By releasing surgical scars we open space for remaining lymphatic vessels and circulatory vessels. In addition, scar tissue work alleviates pain and restriction in the area.

Recent Surgery

Lymphatic Drainage Massage and Surgery

Another reason to receive lymphatic drainage massage is recent surgery, such as a joint replacement, a meniscal repair, an ACL repair, a fusion, or any other surgery. With any surgery comes swelling. Inflammation is normal after surgery, but too much inflammation can impede recovery and interfere with rehabilitation.

Surgeries also come with scars. As with lymphedema, a combination of lymphatic drainage massage and SMRT scar tissue release is the most effective treatment.


A sprained ankle, a fall on a hip, a banged elbow are all injuries that the body will protect with inflammation. As with surgeries, inflammation is both necessary to our recovery and overdone by the body to a degree that interferes with recovery. Lymphatic drainage massage can help reduce the inflammation and speed up recovery time. Plus, massage aids in full recovery. Many times after an injury, we do just enough to be functional but do fully recover. Lingering issues can cause issues later in life. Full recovery is optimal.

Lingering Illness

Illness can obviously be caused by multiple factors. As with inflammation, the body can overreact to illness and symptoms can linger. This puts the lymphatic system, which is the immune system of the body, under stress. Lymphatic drainage massage can help whether the illness came from a virus, a pollutant, or an allergy.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage and Plastic Surgery

Plastic Surgery

Plastic surgery alters the body’s natural fluid removal system. It is extremely important after plastic surgery to receive lymphatic drainage massage. Treatment should begin about 7 days after the surgery. They should continue for several times a week for 6 to 8 weeks followed by once to twice a week for the next 6 to 8 weeks.

This is true whether you had breast augmentation, breast reduction, a tummy tuck, lipo 360, a Brazilian butt lift or any other type of plastic surgery. Beginning treatment early and being consistent will give you the best result.

While these are the most common reasons to schedule a lymphatic drainage massage, there are many more. We have several therapists at S.M.R.T. Therapeutic Massage & Pain Relief who can help you determine if lymphatic drainage massage will work for your condition. They are also trained in SMRT scar tissue release and would love to help you decide what types of therapy are best for you. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.