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Manual lymphatic drainage is a massage therapy technique that consists of applying gentle massages to different areas of the body with the aim of improving lymph circulation and the lymphatic system. The function of this technique is to improve the automatic contraction of the lymphatic vessels, helping to eliminate edema and other alterations derived from poor lymph circulation.


The lymphatic system is responsible for transporting the waste derived from the nutrition of the cells to the blood, which later takes them to the excretory system to eliminate them. Edema appears when the lymphatic system cannot purify certain areas, so fluids and substances stagnate. The pressure applied during lymphatic drainage helps to draw retained fluids into the circulatory system and into the blood. In addition to transporting waste substances from cells, the lymphatic system also acts as a defense for the body; This is due to the lymph nodes, structures that are located in various areas of the system and that act to purify pathogens and neutralize the damage they may cause.


The fact that fluids accumulate in the tissues can be due to several causes, such as a malfunction of the lymphatic system itself, natural or induced (the latter usually due to the removal of lymph nodes, something common in the surgical treatment of certain tumors) . Fluids can also accumulate for causes that have nothing to do with lymph, such as in the case of venous edema, lipedema, traumatic edema, edema during pregnancy, liver cirrhosis, malnutrition, and so on.


What is manual lymphatic drainage?

The massage that is applied in the lymphatic drainage must follow a series of determined guidelines that allow it to fulfill its function:

  • It has to be a very gentle and painless massage, so it usually has a pleasant and relaxing effect.

  • The hands must make a slow, repetitive movement that must follow, to some extent, the direction of the lymphatic ducts.

  • Lymphatic drainage usually does not last less than an hour.



Health benefits of manual lymphatic drainage

Lymphatic drainage is increasingly used in the area of ​​oncology for the treatment of traumatic edema, lymphedema, and lymphatic complications resulting from surgery. It is also often used for cosmetic purposes. The benefits of this technique are:

  • Reactivates lymphatic circulation and helps eliminate excess fluids and waste substances from the body.

  • Reduces inflammation derived from fluid retention, regulating muscle tone.

  • It helps to improve the body's defenses by promoting the function of the lymph nodes.

  • It improves the appearance of the skin and fights diseases and conditions such as cellulite or acne .

  • It has an analgesic effect, so it is also recommended in pain derived from diseases such as fibromyalgia .

  • It has a relaxing effect on the nervous system, relieving situations of stress and anxiety , but also combating the effects of diseases such as migraines and vertigo .

  • It improves blood circulation (the lymphatic system is complemented by the circulatory system) and helps to eliminate problems derived from poor circulation, such as varicose veins.

  • Stimulates kidney function.

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