After you have plastic surgery procedures such as facelift (rhytidectomy), tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, or liposuction, your primary goal is to heal as quickly as possible without developing any complications. You want to feel better so you can resume your work and daily activities, but you may also be excited to see the final results of your procedure. While sleeping and rest is vital for your recovery, lymphatic massage may also help speed up your healing.
Dr Hunt and Dr Maryam are both Specialist Plastic surgeons, offering a range of plastic surgery and cosmetic surgery. Both have years of experience in performing face and body surgery for patients in Sydney NSW.
How Lymphatic Massage Works
Surgery is a major event that affects your body on several levels and you may have to deal with the associated surgical side effects such as pain, bruising, swelling, numbness, and discomfort. For this reason, it is important for you to follow the surgery aftercare instructions. Lymphatic massage is a technique that can be used to help reduce swelling and scar tissue formation.
Lymphatic massage or manual lymphatic massage may help to detoxify the body by moving the fluid, toxins, and waste products. Then, this massage technique redirects the lymph fluid into parts of your body with several lymph nodes such as the armpits, neck, stomach, and groin. The lymph nodes then help filter the toxins and wastes before they are eliminated from the body.
Lymphatic massage may help promote faster recovery after facelift (rhytidectomy), tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, liposuction, or other surgical procedures by reducing inflammation, swelling, and scar tissue formation.
Types of Lymphatic Massage
Your surgeon, massage therapist, or physical therapist may use one of the following types of lymphatic massage:
- Vodder: this technique involves the use of different sweeping motions around the treatment area
- Foldi: an extension of the Vodder technique, this type of lymphatic massage involves the use of alternating circular hand motions and moments of relaxation
- Casley-Smith: this massage technique requires the use of the sides and palms of your hands to perform circular motions in the treatment area
- Leduc: this lymphatic massage technique uses special hand motions to collect the lymph fluid containing the toxins and waste before redirecting it
Does lymphatic massage help after liposuction surgery?
A number of studies assessing the beneficial effects of lymphatic massage after liposuction found that this technique can help speed up the recovery time. A 2020 study published in the American Journal of Cosmetic Surgery evaluated the benefits of lymphatic massage by assessing the amount of oedema (swelling) in patients who had an abdominoplasty with core liposuction. The study included a total of 20 women aged 30 to 60 years who underwent an abdominoplasty and core liposuction. All of the subjects wore a standard compression garment for 8 weeks after surgery.
At 6 weeks after surgery, one group was treated by a certified lymphedema specialist twice a week for 3 weeks for a total of 6 visits. The treatment included lymphatic massage. The other group (control) did not receive lymphatic massage but continued to wear standard compressive garments. To assess for oedema, the waist circumferences of all participants were measured at 6 and 8 weeks after surgery. The data from the 2 groups were compared to determine the change in postoperative oedema. Interestingly, the group treated with lymphatic massage had a greater reduction in oedema compared with the control group. The researchers, therefore, concluded that lymphatic massage after abdominoplasty and core liposuction can significantly reduce oedema more than the standard compressive garments.
A 2014 study published in the Indian Journal of Plastic Surgery verified the effects of the association between manual lymphatic drainage and therapeutic ultrasound on pain, swelling, and formation of scar tissue following liposuction and lipoabdominoplasty (removes the excess fat and loose skin of the abdomen). The study included 18 women aged between 18 and 60 years who had lipoabdominoplasty or liposuction in the abdomen, flanks, and lower trunk, which showed tissue fibrosis (scar formation) of the flanks and abdomen regions. The subjects were divided into 2 groups: 1. Liposuction group, and 2. Lipoabdominoplasty group. After 12 sessions of therapeutic ultrasound followed by the manual lymphatic drainage, the subjects were assessed with regard to pain, swelling, and scar tissue formation. Interestingly, the researchers found a statistically significant reduction in pain, swelling, and scar tissue formation in both groups.
How to prepare for a lymphatic drainage – What to do before lymphatic massage
To achieve the desired clinical outcome, there are some important things that you need to follow before and after lymphatic drainage massage. Before the procedure, you should:
- Stay hydrated by drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily to promote effective detoxification
- Do not eat a big meal to prevent discomfort and facilitate effective movements of the toxins
- Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing to promote comfort and easier access to the body areas that need a massage
- Adjust the dose of certain medications, such as oral painkillers, as prescribed by your surgeon
- Inform your surgeon of any signs and symptoms to determine if lymphatic massage can be performed
What should I Do after a lymph massage?
- Rest as much as possible to allow your body to heal
- Make small, gradual movements to get your muscles moving
- Drink lots of water to promote continuous detoxification
- Exercise regularly to aid the detoxification process
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet to prevent toxin build-up in the body
What are the contraindications to the use of lymphatic massage? – When you should avoid lymph massage
- In general, lymphatic massage is an effective treatment for postoperative swelling, bruising, and other discomforts. However, there are some conditions and circumstances where this type of massage is not recommended.
Lymphatic massage is not right for you if:
- You have an active infection
- You have blood clots
- You have cardiovascular disease
- You have kidney disease
FAQs about Lymphatic Massage
Where can I get lymphatic massage after surgery?
- You can get a lymphatic massage after plastic surgery at specialist massage therapists like Ana Fook Brazilian Beauty – 3 Seaforth St, Bexley NSW 2207, Australia.
Is lymphatic massage good after surgery?
- Lymphatic massage helps promote faster recovery after surgery by reducing inflammation, swelling, and scar tissue formation. This technique also helps flush toxins and other waste products out of your body.
How often should you get a lymph massage after surgery?
- After your surgery, it is highly recommended that you undergo a series of lymphatic drainage sessions every three months to help reduce inflammation, swelling, and scar tissue formation.
What do lymphatic massages do after plastic surgery?
- Lymphatic massage can help promote faster recovery after a surgical procedure by reducing inflammation, swelling, and scar tissue formation. This technique detoxifies the body by moving the fluid, toxins, and waste products back into the lymph vessels. As a result, the lymph fluid is redirected into parts of your body with several lymph nodes such as the armpits, neck, stomach, and groin. This in turn filters the toxins and wastes before they are eliminated.
How many lymphatic massages do you need after a tummy tuck/abdominoplasty?
- After your tummy tuck – abdominoplasty surgery, you will need to undergo a series of 2-3 sessions. Once your sessions are complete, your surgeon can assess your condition to determine the need for additional lymphatic massages.
Are lymphatic massages necessary?
- Lymphatic drainage massage techniques are not essential, but the evidence is that they reduce inflammation, swelling, and scar tissue formation. This can help your circulatory and lymphatic systems to function at optimal levels.
What is a post-op lymphatic massage?
- Post-operative lymphatic massage is a combination of different massage techniques that specifically target your circulatory and lymphatic systems. These techniques increase blood flow and promote the removal of toxins and other waste products from your body. They are usually performed after cosmetic procedures such as facelift, tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty, or liposuction.
When should I start post-op lymphatic massage?
- The lymph massage technique is usually performed in the first 6 weeks after your surgery. The earlier you can undergo lymphatic massage, the better your results will be. In general, you should be able to start receiving light lymphatic drainage massage techniques 10-14 days after your surgery to reduce swelling and speed up your recovery. Over time, you may begin receiving stronger and more vigorous massage techniques. However, some patients are unable to tolerate lymphatic massage right away due to some discomforts associated with the surgery and will have to wait until 3 weeks post-op.
What can happen if you don’t get a lymphatic massage after liposuction?
If you don’t massage after liposuction, you may risk developing the following:
- Hardness in the surgical sites
- Hematoma (collection or pooling of blood under the skin surface)
- Increasing pain
- Prolonged swelling
- Water retention
After your surgery, your overall condition will be assessed to determine the frequency of lymphatic massage. You will also be provided with adequate information regarding when to return for follow-up and the schedule of your lymphatic massage.
How do you get rid of fluid after liposuction?
- A good way to get rid of fluid after liposuction is through lymphatic massage. This massage technique moves the fluid, toxins, and waste products back into the lymph vessels for filtration. The toxins and wastes are then eliminated in the form of urine. As a result, oedema or swelling due to fluid build-up is significantly reduced.
How do you perform a lymphatic massage after a Facelift (Rhytidectomy)?
- The tissue manipulation of a facelift (rhytidectomy) will produce side effects such as soreness and tenderness. By performing lymphatic massage, the gentle upward strokes of this technique that are applied on the face reduce postoperative pain by soothing the pain receptors. It also promotes faster healing of facial tissues by boosting blood circulation in the area. In addition, it can also help reduce swelling by moving lymph and fluid out of facial tissues.
To perform a lymphatic massage after a facelift:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to prevent infection
- Start on the collarbone or clavicle and use as much surface area of your hand as you can
- Apply gentle pressure and perform large circles on the area 8-10 times
- Split the fingers of your hand into two and then do large circles on either side of your ear and underneath it 8-10 times
- Perform large circles on your jaw 8-10 times
- Perform short gentle strokes from your ear down to your collarbone 5 or more times
- Perform short gentle strokes underneath your jaw 5 or more times
- Perform short gentle strokes on your cheeks and underneath your eyes using both hands and work towards your ear area 5 or more times
- Perform short gentle strokes on your forehead starting from the middle towards your ears 5 or more times
- Perform short gentle strokes starting from your forehead all the way down to your collarbone area 5 or more times.
Is lymphatic massage a form of deep massage?
- No, lymphatic massage is an extremely light treatment compared to deep massage. This massage technique is based on scientific knowledge of the structures and functions of the circulatory and lymphatic systems of the body. A deep massage is contraindicated after a facelift (rhytidectomy), tummy tuck/ abdominoplasty, or liposuction as it can lead to further bruising or injury.
Can lymphatic massage help get rid of bruising?
- Bruises are caused by the build-up of cellular debris and old red blood cells in your tissues. By moving the fluid, toxins, and waste products to the lymph vessels for filtration and elimination, it significantly reduces the appearance of bruises as well as your healing time.
Further Reading about Plastic Surgery & Recovery
- Read Dr Hunt’s Recovery after Plastic Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Risks after Plastic Surgery page
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Patients Before and After Photos
Medical References about Lymphatic Massage
- What is a lymphatic drainage massage and how does it work?
- Understanding the Lymphatic System
- Massage Therapy Styles and Health Benefits
- How to perform a lymphatic drainage massage
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery in Australia. He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing plastic surgery in Sydney.
Dr Hunt’s personal, one-on-one service and attention to detail has ensured that thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia have received high quality surgical care.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the prestigious University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from some of the world’s very best plastic surgeons.
Next Step – Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Want more information before scheduling your consultation?
- Find out more about pricing, medical payment plans and paying for your surgery
- Request more information about the procedure – call on 1300 157 200 or contact us
- Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.