By Dr. Daniel Lee

Q: Why do I need lymphatic drainage therapy or lymphatic massage after my liposuction?

A: If you have ever had liposuction then you know that hardness or lumpiness can result in the areas where fat was removed.  These post-surgical changes are caused by inflammation and trauma from the cannula (an instrument that sucks out the fat) moving under the skin. Channels are formed by the cannula that can fill up with fluid and the tissue also becomes swollen. Manual lymphatic massage helps to move the fluid by gently moving it back into the lymph vessels. Reducing swelling can reduce discomfort. Without lymphatic massage, the inflammation can evolve into fibrosis (a permanent hardening of the tissue) or a seroma (pocket of blood) can form.  Dr. Lee recommends lymphatic massage after liposuction to make sure patients get the best possible results. 

Q: Is lymphatic massage and deep massage the same thing?

A: No, although it may seem that deep massage would assist in decreasing the hardness following liposuction, it can actually increase the circulation to the treated areas making it harder to evacuate the lymph fluid. Lymphatic massage therapy uses a light touch, thus it limits inflammation and swelling.  It is a myth that deep massage and heat are beneficial in healing after liposuction. So, even though it may seem to you that a deep massage or other forms of therapeutic or Swedish massage would be helpful, it is not.

Q: Does lymphatic massage improve bruising after liposuction?

A: Yes.  Bruises are an accumulation of blood cells in the tissue. Lymphatic massage helps clear out these trapped blood cells.

Q: Is lymphatic massage painful?

A: No. Since there is usually a light touch involved in the massage, the discomfort is limited.  

Q: What is the treatment like?

A: The atmosphere is the same as a massage treatment room with dim lighting and soft music. Although you are in a massage setting, it is important to understand that lymphatic massage treatment is a specific form of bodywork designed to efficiently move lymph fluid in your body. Stimulation of the lymphatic system activates the parasympathetic nervous system producing an automatic physiological relaxation response. Many clients fall asleep. Gentle, rotating, pumping motions with the therapist’s hands and fingertips begin at the collarbone area, then focus on areas where there is a concentration of lymph nodes…the underarms, abdomen, groin, and back of the knees. Usually the entire session is performed with you lying in the face-up position because all of the areas of lymph nodes that need to be decongested are located on the front of the body. It is necessary to open up the major lymphatic areas on the front of your body before the backside of the body can drain. It is very important to decongest the areas of drainage in the groin, abdomen, underarms and collarbone areas before sending extra lymph fluid to them. Directing lymph fluid to nodal areas without opening the lymph nodes up first increases the discomfort and overwhelms the nodes, leading to increased recovery time.

Q: How many treatments will I need?

A: Lymphatic massage can actually be used prior to liposuction. It allows for the tissue to be prepared for the tissue trauma and improves tissue swelling and inflammation prior to the surgery.  Most patients get 1-6 treatments post-operatively and that is enough. 

Q: How often is lymphatic massage applied?

A: The first week after surgery, the lymphatic massage can be done as frequently as daily. The second week, as frequent as every other day.  It is not possible to get too much manual lymphatic massage and the sessions can be scheduled at your convenience.

Q: How soon after my procedure can the massage begin?

A: It is possible to begin within 24 hours. 

Q: It has been over a month since I had my procedure. Is it too late to begin?

A: No. The healing process after these types of procedure is several months. If it has been over a month since your procedure you can still get the soothing benefits of lymphatic massage.

Q: Who do I contact to schedule an appointment?

A: Call New Life Cosmetic Surgery and Wellness Center at 956-969-8369.  We have therapists at our location that will take excellent care of you.