Lymphatic Drainage Massage Therapy after Plastic Surgery

Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage Therapy after Plastic Surgery

Are you planning on having surgery? Are you worried about the recovery? You might have heard of lymphatic drainage massage for quicker recovery. Many health care experts and plastic surgeons swear by lymphatic drainage massage post-surgery. But does it work? Let’s find out.

The Body’s Natural Lymph System

Before we go any further, let us explain what the natural lymph system of the body does. It is a cleansing mechanism of the body that gets rid of toxic fluids. Because of these fluids, our body can experience pain and swelling. We might also feel lethargic along with numerous other health problems. A functional lymph system ensures that our body gets rid of all the toxins frequently. As a result, we feel healthier and energized.

A Lymphatic Drainage Massage:

  • Drains the excess fluid which is close to the lymph nodes
  • Reduces bruises dramatically and at a much faster pace
  • Minimises pain, discomfort, and swelling
  • Speeds up the overall process of healing
  • It may help to improve the appearance of the scars and make them less visible
  • And it may also help reduce indentations, rippling, and hard lumps in the body.

A Few Things to Know About Manual Lymph Drainage

  • It is a gentle treatment that involves extremely soft hand strokes, which are quite relaxing.
  • It should be pain-free.
  • You might still be required to wear your compression garments after the treatment.
  • It is not a one-time treatment. It involves multiple sessions to achieve optimal results.
  • You will have to take your clothes off for the massage.

What Is Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic Massage

If our bodies have a natural lymphatic system, why do we need a massage for lymphatic drainage?

Think of it as manual assistance to the body’s natural drainage system. This technique originated in Germany for treating lymphedema (body swelling).  This is caused by a blockage in the lymphatic system, part of the immune and circulatory systems. Lymphedema is most commonly caused by lymph node removal or damage due to cancer treatment. The massage is not only used to drain excess fluids in the body but also to eliminate swelling and pain. 

Sometimes, patients might experience excessive water retention and swelling due to other reasons. Over the years, the technique became widely popular amongst patients of cosmetic surgery and people struggling with the dysfunctional lymph system. The top benefits include:

Benefits of Lymphatic Drainage Massage

  • Lymphatic drainage massage eliminates excess water, toxins, bacteria, and metabolic waste from the cells of the body.
  • It is known to significantly reduce body pain, which gives you both mental and physical comfort after the treatment.
  • The Manual Lymph Drainage Massage supports the sympathetic nervous system and works wonders to reduce stress and anxiety levels.
  • Lymphatic drainage massage also minimises stiffness and pain in the body.
  • It significantly reduces bruising. (Which is always a plus with any kind of cosmetic surgery). Cells are transported at a ten times faster rate, as a result, bruises disappear in a fraction of the time.
  • Furthermore, it can help prevent infections after surgery. Draining excess toxin-loaded fluid makes sure that your body heals seamlessly.
  • It can help to boost your immunity
  • As well as assist in quicker healing and faster recovery after surgery
  • And, it can help minimize the appearance of scars.

Importance of Lymphatic Drainage Massage aka MLD

A functional lymphatic system of the body is critical for its ability to function optimally. It regenerates the body tissues, filters out the toxins, detoxifies the body, and maintains a healthy immune system.

The entire lymphatic system comprises various vessels and nodes that are constantly working to keep your body in a healthy state. The lymph itself is made up of fatty acids, immune cells, toxins, proteins, and hormonal cells, which are processed by the nodes. If the body is under any kind of stress, surgery, infection or illness the entire process slows down.

The benefits of MLD are not only limited to health. In fact, lymphatic drainage massage has proven to be beneficial for improving the quality of the skin and can help keep you looking young for longer. Moreover, it can boost the radiance of the face and minimise the early morning swelling some people struggle with. All in all, one cannot deny its importance for both health and beauty reasons.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage and Cosmetic Surgery

We are all aware of the fact that all cosmetic surgeries come with some form of swelling. This is fairly normal as this is how our bodies heal. Certain surgeries such as liposuction and tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty) disrupt the natural pathways which are used by the lymphatic system for drainage. In these cases, a lymphatic drainage massage can be great.

Choose Post-Surgery Garments Wisely

There is a reason why your surgeons ask you to wear a compression garment for a specific amount of time after the surgery. They help with the entire lymph drainage process as well as the swelling. These garments help to prevent the build-up of toxins carrying fluids in one area. Moreover, it is a great pre-MLD measure to take as it helps prepare your body for the massaging process. Listen to your surgeon’s advice in this regard and ask them to recommend some great options for compression garments.

Always Consult Your Surgeon

After reading this post, you might be convinced that going for a lymphatic drainage massage is the best thing you can do for your body post-surgery. While it can be amazing if done right, you should always, always, and always consult your surgeon before going ahead with anything. Only your surgeon can give you the final word of whether it will be beneficial for you or not. If your surgeon is ok with it, ask him/her about how many weeks post-surgery you should get it done.

What to Expect During my First Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

During your first session, your therapist will ask you about your medical history as well as what type of surgery you have undergone. These details are necessary to treat the condition effectively. The massage itself is a simple process that involves only a massage table and a few clean towels. It will be a very relaxing experience. The therapist will use soft, rhythmic motions all over your body to aid the drainage.

Once the massage is complete, the therapist will ask you to put on compression garments along with some post-care instructions.

Duration of the Session

Most people are curious about how long the massage will last. It typically lasts anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes. After your first session, you might be asked to come in every other day for the first few weeks. After that, the therapist will perform a massage once a week for four to six weeks. Eventually, it will be done only once a month for four to five months.

Please note that it is a general guideline. Your experience can vary drastically depending on the condition of your body and the therapist you see.

Preparing for the Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Any treatment or health care practice requires a little bit of homework to achieve the right results. Here is how you can prepare for the MLD treatment;

  • Make sure that you are getting a lymphatic drainage massage from a qualified therapist. Do not go to any random person for the massage. An untrained person can do more harm than good.
  • Get ready for some relaxation. The massage involves gentle strokes, which can cause you to dose off. So, don’t feel embarrassed if you fall asleep, it’s fairly common. MLD is a very relaxing technique.
  • Do not apply moisturizer or lotion to your body or face before coming in for a massage. The lymphatic drainage involves minor skin stretching and therefore you should avoid applying anything which hinders this process.
  • Always use the restroom before going for MLD. In other words, empty out your bladder one last time before the massage starts.
  • Your massage therapist will instruct you to do a bit of walking before coming for the massage. Always perform all the steps as instructed.
  • Do not eat a huge meal before coming in for treatment. Stick to something light and easily digestible.
  • Try to avoid processed food and eat healthy a few days before coming in for a massage.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage Post Care

Here are the few simple steps you should follow to get the most out of your lymphatic drainage massage:

  • Drink plenty of water as you will feel very thirsty immediately after the massage. Keep yourself hydrated at all times.
  • If you can, take the day off as you will feel extremely tired after the massage. All you will want to do is sleep and rest.
  • Eat plenty of clean and healthy food. You should also limit the intake of processed food.
  • Continue to wear compression garments as instructed by your surgeon.
  • After one day of complete rest, go for a gentle walk to keep things moving.

Lymphatic Massage FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions about Lymphatic Massage and Surgery

Here is a list of frequently asked questions we receive regarding lymphatic drainage massage and the answers to them:

Where does Dr Doyle recommend I go for a lymphatic massage?

Dr Doyle recommends Massage One which is located in Burleigh Waters. They are well versed in treating patients after plastic surgery and are given post-op care and garment instructions by Dr Doyle. When you come in for surgery, you will receive a voucher for a lymphatic drainage massage as Dr Doyle believes that this improves recovery.

How often should you get a lymphatic drainage massage after surgery?

Before your procedure, Dr Doyle recommends getting 3 Lymphatic Drainage Massages over 3 weeks (no more than 7 days apart). After your procedure, always go off Dr Doyle’s recommendations as it will depend on what type of surgery you’ve had.

Generally, you will be able to start lymphatic massages anywhere from 3 days post-surgery with Massage One’s M1 Lymphatic Method. For the first 2 weeks, it is recommended to get 3 sessions per week, followed by one massage weekly for 6 weeks.

After this six week period, you can opt for monthly maintenance.

What are the benefits of lymphatic drainage? 

It minimises swelling, gets rid of toxins, boosts immunity, and promotes faster recovery.

How long does lymphatic drainage take to work?

After the massage, the flow rate will be approximately 100 to 120 bpm which gradually lowers over the following 48 hours.

What helps lymphatic drainage after surgery?

Wearing compression garments and the MLD itself works wonders after surgery.

Does lymphatic drainage massage really work? 

Yes, it is based on our body’s natural drainage system.

How do you feel after a lymphatic drainage massage? 

  • You will feel tired immediately after the lymphatic drainage massage.
  • Don’t force yourself to do any high-intensity activity and slowly ease back to your daily routine.
  • Some patients also feel extreme thirst, immediately after the massage.

Can I get sick after lymphatic drainage?

No, you will feel tired after the massage, but you won’t feel sick at all.

What are the symptoms of poor lymphatic drainage?

Here are the major symptoms of poor lymphatic drainage:

  • Swelling in arms and legs
  • Changes in the condition of the skin
  • Changes in the skin colour
  • Blisters
  • Fluid leaking

Who should not get a lymphatic massage? 

People struggling with acute inflammation, malignant tumours, thrombosis, and heart problems should not get a lymphatic massage. Even if you don’t have any of these conditions, it is good to ask your doctor before you proceed.

How often should lymphatic drainage be done? 

Each body is different and has different requirements. The need for lymphatic drainage can vary drastically from once a month, to once a week or four times a week.

Can I manually drain my lymphatic system at home? 

This is possible but not recommended, especially post-surgery. You must visit a professional for a lymphatic drainage massage after the surgery.

How do I prepare for lymphatic drainage massage? 

  • Follow these six simple tips to prepare yourself for the lymph drainage massage:
    • Always select a trained therapist to perform lymph drainage massage
    • Prepare for relaxation/slow calm day, the day of your massage
    • Do not eat large meals before the treatment
    • Do not apply lotion or oil prior to the treatment
    • Always empty your bladder

Is lymphatic massage painful? 

No, lymphatic massage is a pain-free technique and won’t involve any pain after the surgery.

Further Reading and Medical Research


Getting a lymphatic drainage massage can be helpful post-surgery but can also be an important part of your ongoing self-care routine. However, before you make any decisions, it is important to consult with your surgeon and doctor. If you need expert advice, feel free to fill out our consultation form. Happy healing!

About Dr Mark Doyle FRACS (Plas) – Queensland Plastic Surgeon

Servicing patients in Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and New South Wales NSW – Northern Rivers, Byron Bay, Ballina, Lismore and more.

Dr Mark Doyle is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with over thirty years of experience performing BreastBodyFace and Nose surgery. Dr Doyle is a fully qualified Specialist Plastic Surgeon with 30+ years of experience. He has completed all required training and only carries out approved surgical practices. There are absolutely NO undertrained doctors or cosmetic doctors acting as surgeons in our clinic.

As a highly esteemed plastic surgeon, Dr Mark is committed to achieving the best possible results for all his breast, body, face and nose patients, both men and women.


Do Your Research

What to Bring to Your Plastic Surgeon Consultation

  • Bring a friend or relative for support and discussion regarding your choices
  • Take notes and read all provided information thoroughly
  • Read about what to expect in your Initial Surgery Consultation

Book Your Plastic Surgery Consultation

  • Get a Referral from your GP or specialist – this is required to book a consultation with Dr Doyle.
  • Email us or call on 07 5598 0988 to arrange your consultation appointment.
  • Pay your $300 Consultation Fee in advance to secure your consultation.

Please contact us to arrange to book a consultation with our Specialist Plastic Surgeon or to speak with our Patient Care Advisor.

Send an enquiry form today or phone 07 5598 0988 during Clinic Hours.

  • Dr. Mark Doyle AHPRA Registration: Dr Mark Doyle MED0001375519 Specialist Plastic Surgery – MBBS FRACS FRCS

*DISCLAIMER: All information on Gold Coast Plastic Surgery website is general in nature and is not intended to be medical advice nor does it constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Results can vary significantly and depend on individual patient circumstances. All images on this website, unless specified as real patient images, are stock images used for illustrative purposes only. Surgery risks and complications will be covered in detail during a consultation with your surgeon. Book a consult for details regarding your cosmetic surgery procedure.