How Lymphatic Massage benefits you both Pre and Post Surgery

Surgery certainly puts a special kind of stress on the body. Whether the surgery is elected or unavoidable, all procedures have one very important thing in common. I’m not talking about the cocktail of pain meds you will be sent home with – I’m talking about the effect of surgery on the lymphatic system. The lymph is right there in the tissue that is being operated on and will leak into the surrounding tissues when lymphatic vessels are damaged by incisions or other surgical techniques. It plays a crucial role in tissue healing as well as preventing or mediating infection. Luckily, lymphatic massage is a safe and non-invasive way to prepare the tissue for surgery and improve recovery post-operatively.  

What are the benefits of Lymphatic Massage pre-surgery?

Detoxifies and cleans the tissues

Because the lymph is a part of the body’s natural detoxification response, getting lymphatic drainage in tip top shape before surgery gives the body a head start on the detoxification process. Lymph helps to drain toxins and metabolic waste away from the tissues of the body and so lymphatic massage pre surgery is akin to clearing out the gutters to make way for what is to come. 

Supports immunity against infection

Think of a pre-surgery massage as also being a preventative. Not only does the lymph carry things out of the tissue, but it is also a reservoir for white blood cells which our immune system needs to fight infection. Lymphatic congestion can heighten the risk of infection post-op and so taking care of any clogged areas beforehand improves your chance of a smooth recovery.

Make your surgeon’s job easier

Many surgeons encourage lymphatic massage pre-op for one very good reason. Massage helps to drain any excess fluid away from the cells that make up the targeted tissue! This makes it easier for the surgeon to make incisions in the tissue which is a big consideration particularly for cosmetic procedures.

Natural stress relief

If nothing else, massages are undeniably relaxing! Impending surgery can be nerve wracking by nature and may come at the end of a long period of illness or uncertainty. Physical touch is therapeutic and with intentional massage comes the unwinding of tension and all sorts of feel-good endorphins and hormones like serotonin and oxytocin. Lymphatic massage is quite a gentle form of bodywork, as the lymph vessels are close to the surface of the skin and rather fragile. No need to brace yourself against a deep tissue massage! You can drop into the moment and melt away any pre-surgery anxiety during a lymphatic massage. 

Lymphatic Massage after surgery to improve recovery

Surgical procedures from facelifts, breast reduction or augmentation to rhinoplasty and knee surgeries are all going to disrupt the delicate lymphatic tissues in these areas. This is why swelling and surgery comes as a package deal! It can take a few months for the lymphatic vessels to recover and form new networks within the healing tissue. By decreasing congestion in the tissue, lymphatic massage helps to reduce swelling. Because swelling also puts pressure on incision sites, supporting lymphatic drainage with massage can also lessen scarring. This is a big win for cosmetic and facial surgeries, but lymphatic massage is also often recommended after liposuction. Massage can help prevent fibrotic nodules forming and improve the overall skin quality and texture around the body. Many surgeons will recommend lymphatic massage following liposuction especially in patients who are struggling with swelling. 

The same goes following breast reduction surgery. Lymphatic massage is a gentle way to encourage fluid and fat that has been disturbed in the breasts to find its way into the lymphatic vessels and to prevent it from accumulating and hardening into permanent lumps. When liposuction techniques have been used, surgeons often suggest lymphatic massage within a 5-7 day period following surgery for best results. 

Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s response to injury and so will be heightened after surgery as the tissue heals. Lymphatic drainage massage can help to get those inflammatory chemicals moving out of the local tissue as well as removing free fats and other cellular debris. The idea of being massaged after surgery may sound painful, but lymphatic massage is very gentle and when performed correctly may reduce pain sensitivity.

After some procedures such as cool sculpting, lymphatic massage is also used to promote fat cell breakdown after treatment and is vital for long term results. 

For the new mums out there, lymphatic drainage massage is for you too! It is unlikely that you need an excuse for a massage, however if you have given birth via C-section, lymphatic drainage massage is a must for postpartum recovery. Not only will the reduction in swelling benefit you, but gentle massage also helps to get fresh oxygenated blood moving to accelerate tissue repair. From a more aesthetic point of view, lymphatic drainage massage can also help to prevent or lessen the appearance of existing scars and stretch marks. If all this means a chance to lie down and have someone give you some TLC for change, then we’re all for it!

Ask your surgeon whether lymphatic drainage massage is recommended as part of your preparation or post-op recovery. There are many great lymphatic massage therapists ready and waiting to treat your body kindly.