Massage Aha!

Professional therapeutic massage therapy in Kansas City, MO by Aaron Harris, BCTMB

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Post-surgical Lymphatic Drainage Massage


Regular post-surgical lymphatic drainage massage can be one of the most therapeutic ways you can reduce swelling, promote healing, and aligning scar tissue.

I’ve been having weekly lymphatic massages with Aaron for several weeks now and would highly recommend him! He’s helped me with my water retention after surgery and breaking down my scar tissue!

Terri D – Olathe KS Feb 2022

What is Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage is a highly specialized style with a primary goal of manually moving lymph fluid through the body. When fluid is stagnated or “congested” it leads to painful swelling and can complicate the healing process. Pushing this fluid out of areas of swelling reduces the pain.

How soon after surgery should I get a Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Your doctor will often recommend that you receive a series of lymphatic drainage massages usually beginning three to four days post-procedure. If the surgical site is still too painful to touch gently, you should wait until you can tolerate light pressure.

Simplified lymph node map for post-surgical lymphatic drainage massage.
Simplified view of major lymph nodes.

A vast majority of your lymph nodes are located in your abdomen, especially along your waistline. If you are not able to lie on your back or sit comfortably reclined, lymphatic drainage will be more effective once you are able to do so.

Lymphatic drainage can be effective in treating post-surgical swelling of any type, however it is most frequently recommended following cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, adipose (fat) transfer, tummy tucks, face lifts, and implant placement or removal.

Any surgery to the endocrine system or gastro-intestinal tract, such as a cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal), appendix removal, thyroid resections, polyp removal, etc, can also benefit from a lymphatic drainage massage.

Are there other conditions that can be treated with a Lymphatic Drainage massage?

Of course there are! Patients who are most likely to seek and benefit from an LD massage include:

  • Diabetics
  • Oncology/Cancer patients
  • Pregnancy, especially if some other condition, such as preeclampsia or placenta previa, requires bed rest or limited activity
  • Lymphedema for other conditions.

Can any massage therapist perform Lymphatic Drainage?

The short answer is yes. A massage certification allows for lymphatic drainage techniques to be performed. Unfortunately, this technique is rarely taught in standard massage classes and few therapists seek additional training to be knowledgeable and effective at this specialty. Fewer therapists have an extensive medical background or understanding of the way this complex biological system works or how underlying medical conditions can affect treatment.

When you are seeking lymphatic drainage massage for post-surgical pain relief and treatment, be sure to ask your therapist about their experience and training.

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