Facial lymphatic drainage has been getting more and more headlines for its ability to remove toxins and decrease inflammation.  Our lymphatic system is a critical part of our immune system and our overall health.  Through a network of hundreds of lymph nodes, it drains fluid called lymph to be transported back into our bloodstream. It also removes bodily waste and carries white blood cells that help prevent infection- super important to keep us healthy and sickness free. 

When there is an obstruction in our lymphatic system fluid can build up throughout the body.  When this happens something called lymphedema can occur which is followed by symptoms of recurring infections, restricted range of motion, aching or discomfort, swelling, fibrosis or hardening/ thickening of the skin.  Lymphatic massage was invented mainly to treat this condition. It is the process of "draining" (and circulating) fluid from your lymph nodes using massage techniques. 

But in recent years, some have started incorporating facial lymphatic drainage into their beauty regimen as a weapon against puffy, dull complexion and skin irritation. Some have gone so far as to call it a nonsurgical facelift.  Interestingly enough, the evidence that exists is pretty limited for how effective it actually is in terms of firming and lifting.  Some research has reported skin sagging due to the loss of fluid under the skin (which seems intuitive in my opinion). In an article published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation Trusted Source, dermatologist George Cotsarelis questioned whether people even have lymphatic drainage issues in their facial area altogether and, if they did, his diagnosis wouldn’t be to get a massage to solve the build up.  A study in Japan showed some evidence of firming effects but they concluded pine cone extract be used in place of the lymphatic drainage massage as a better remedy.

In conclusion, lymphatic massage seems to be effective in depuffing and loss of swelling but it is most effective in treating other areas of the body rather than the face.  However, ice rolling could be a better alternative to facial swelling and depuffing. 

Written by Allyson Welch
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