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How Your Lymphatic System Works

How Your Lymphatic System Works

Your lymphatic system helps your body maintain balanced fluid levels, remove cellular waste, absorb dietary fats, and destroy infectious invaders. Just as sound lymphatic system function supports optimal well-being, impaired lymph function can affect your health and appearance. 

As aesthetic medicine experts who specialize in lymph-stimulating drainage massage, our seasoned team at Smooth Body Contours knows the many benefits of keeping your lymphatic system in prime condition — and supporting it when it’s sluggish or blocked. 

Read on to learn how your lymphatic system works, and find out the various ways drainage massage can benefit you.

What is the lymphatic system?

Your lymphatic system is a vast network of organs, nodes, vessels, and tissues that work together to collect extra fluids, or lymph, from your body tissues and transfer it back into your bloodstream (circulatory system). Colorless and watery, lymph contains:

Lymphatic vessels are the vast network of capillaries and tubes that transport lymph away from body tissues, through your lymph nodes, and on toward lymphatic collecting ducts, which return lymph back to your bloodstream. 

Lymph nodes are small, bean-shaped glands that monitor and cleanse the lymph as it passes through them. These vital nodes occur in clusters throughout your body, including on either side of your neck, in your armpits, in your groin, and in the center of your chest and abdomen.  

Your lymphatic system also includes your spleen, tonsils, adenoids, and thymus. 

How does the lymphatic system work? 

Over 5 gallons (20 liters) of plasma — or the colorless fluid that makes blood liquid — flow through your large arteries, smaller arteriole blood vessels, and capillaries each day. Its job? Delivering nutrients to body cells and receiving their waste products in exchange. 

While most circulating plasma heads straight to your veins to its journey through your circulatory system, about 15% of it seeps from your capillaries directly into your body tissues. 

In fact, fluid, protein, and other substances continuously leak out of your tiny blood capillaries into the body tissues that surround them. If your lymph system didn’t actively collect, process, and move this leakage back to your bloodstream, the extra fluid would build up in your tissues and make them swell.

Lymph support with drainage massage

Lymphatic drainage massage is a specialized manual therapy technique that combines gentle pressure and a specific sequence of directional strokes to stimulate lymph system function or improve lymph clearing. It may be done to: 

During a drainage massage session, your therapist begins with the central part of your body before moving on to your extremities. Using light pressure and gentle strokes, they address the regional lymph nodes first, emptying them so they’re ready to take on more fluid.

Next, your therapist systematically massages each body area that drains toward the emptied lymph nodes, using a manual process called clearing to release lymph from your tissues. Then, with gentle strokes, they move the released lymph toward the empty nodes, where it’s captured, filtered, and sent back into your bloodstream. 

Specific benefits of drainage massage 

Drainage massage has a variety of medical applications, ranging from lymphedema treatment and post-surgery breast cancer care to chronic pain management and digestive support. It has a variety of aesthetic applications, too. 

At Smooth Body Contours, drainage massage is a key aftercare component of noninvasive and minimally invasive body contouring treatments alike, and for good reason: It allows us to accelerate the lymphatic processing and removal of damaged fat cells, so you see faster body shaping results following laser liposuction, fat freezing, and fat-dissolving injections.  

We can also use lymphatic drainage massage to minimize scarring and fibrosis following tummy tuck surgery, reduce the appearance of cellulite and spider veins, and improve the appearance of chronic skin conditions like acne. 

Like all forms of manual therapy, the benefits of drainage massage are cumulative. Over the course of 8-10 sessions, it can:

Ready to find out how you can benefit from lymphatic drainage massage? Call or click online to schedule a visit at your nearest Smooth Body Contours office in Sandy Springs, Georgia, Orlando, Florida, or Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

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