Hailey Bieber and Jennifer Aniston Love Lymphatic Massages — and For Good Reason

We'll have what they're having.

Lymphatic massage
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If you want to make your cheekbones pop or your jawline more defined, lymphatic drainage can help make that happen. Whether you opt for a few face yoga massages, a chilled jade roller, or a Gua Sha tool, there are a handful of facial treatments that utilize the technique to help make your features look more lifted and well-defined.

Now, we're here to tell you that the same method can be applied to the body.

Lymphatic massages are sought out by some of Hollywood's A-list for the impressive health and aesthetic results they deliver. Stars such as Jennifer Aniston, Hailey Bieber, Rebel Wilson, and Kim Kardashian are some of the few who turn to lymphatic massage regimens before big events and photo shoots — and for good reason.

Here, we interviewed three experts on all there is to know about lymphatic massages, from how they work, the results they deliver, how to do them on your own body, how often to do them, and more.

What Is Lymphatic Drainage?

Before we get into how these massages work, it's important to understand the basics and how our lymphs work.

"The lymphatic system is a closed system that is part of our immune system and works alongside our circulatory system," explains Flavia Morellato, a London-based physiotherapist and founder of Flavia Morellato Method for Lymphatic Drainage. "It consists of an extensive network of lymphatic vessels, lymph nodes, lymphatic or lymphoid organs, and lymphoid tissues. The vessels carry a clear fluid called lymph — water, cellular waste/toxins, hormones, lipids, etc. — back towards the heart for re-circulation and elimination through the urine."

Rebecca Faria, a licensed lymphatic drainage specialist and founder of Detox By Rebecca, explains that a lymphatic drainage massage s a therapeutic treatment that targets areas of your body to help lymphatic fluids flow easily and reduce toxins in your body.

How Does a Lymphatic Massage Work?

As with any type of massage, the patient will lay down on a massage table. From there, the masseuse will use their hands on areas such as the abs, legs, and arms. Faria explains that by performing a series of rhythmic, compressive strokes along lymph vessels, they can clear out congested lymph nodes in different parts of the body.

To illustrate it, she compares a lymphatic massage to a sink. "If you were a sink, the drain would be your lymph nodes and the pipe would be the lymphatic system," she begins. "If the drain gets clogged, the sink becomes full of water and trash, and nothing will flow into the pipe. When we do lymphatic drainage massages, we clear those drains and release the toxins that get stuck in the body and release both inflammation and water weight."

What Are the Benefits of Lymphatic Massages?

Morellato says that the two biggest benefits are reducing water retention and detoxifying the body. Faria adds that regular lymphatic massages can help increase in blood circulation, stimulate the digestive system, boost our immune systems, speed up surgery recoveries, and can even minimize PMS symptoms, such as headaches and pelvic pains.

"Of course, the lymphatic drainage massage became very popular for aesthetic reasons," she adds. "Once you do them often, the muscles show more, the skin feels tighter, and the person appear thinner." On top of that, Morellato says they can also improve the appearance of cellulite.

VIDEO: Turns Out, Using a Gua Sha on Your Scalp Can Promote Healthy Hair Growth

How to Give Yourself a Lymphatic Massage

If you want to give it a go, try the technique out on yourself by following Faria's steps.

For the abdomen:

  1. First, you have to open your lymph nodes. To do this, Faria says to place both of your thumbs on your abdomen with your fingers pointing down, where your lymph nodes are located. Press smoothly around five times.
  2. Then, put one hand over the other and make circular, clockwise movements around your abdomen.
  3. Next, Faria says to place both of your hands on your stomach with your thumbs pointing up so that your pinky finger touches your belly. "Make consecutive up-and-down movements, from your stomach to your lymph nodes," she says.
  4. Then, turn to one side of your body and, using both hands, make pushing movements from the side towards the lymph nodes.
  5. Repeat on the other side of your body.
  6. Lastly, Faria says that as you've moved the water and toxins from the sides of your body to the front of it, you then need to repeat the first steps to finish draining them to the lymph nodes. "Each step should be repeated at least 15 times."

For the arms:

  1. First, Faria says you have to stimulate the lymph nodes on the armpit region, near the elbows on the biceps side, and on the wrist. "Using your fingers, point them toward the back, and press smoothly around five times.
  2. From there, move to your upper arm. "Divide the upper arm into sections based on your hand width," she says. Then, she says to slide your hands down from elbow to the armpit region. "Remember to always massage in an upward direction," she points out. Repeat this at least 15 times.
  3. To clear your elbow, Faria says to place your hand at the bend of the elbow, with your palm on the elbow crease. From there, gently stretch the skin upward in a stroking motion, and repeat at leas 15 times.
  4. When working on your forearm, she says to start at the wrist and gently stretch the skin upward toward the elbow. Repeat at least 15 times.
  5. "Finally, take the pads of your fingers and put some pressure between the finger bones to get that fluid moving to the wrist," Faria concludes.

For the legs:

  1. First, place your feet up on a chair.
  2. "You need to open the lymph nodes on your groin — press your hands into it and smooth it out," says Faria. Do this five time.
  3. Then, take your favorite body oil and apply it to your legs. Do this while moving the oil from the bottoms of your legs upward.
  4. "Then, mentally split your thighs into two parts," says Faria. "Grab the first 'half' of your leg with your fingers by wrapping them around your thighs and pulling them up toward the lymph nodes."
  5. Do the same process on the other half.
  6. To move the water and toxins from the outer thighs to the inner things, do the same pulling motions from the sides inward.
  7. Repeat step three.
  8. "After that, open the second lymph area under your knees. Stretch your leg on the chair and press onto the back of your knee five times, then, using both hands, make those pulling movements from the front part of your knee toward the back."
  9. Repeat what you did on your thighs on your calves. Repeat at least 20 times.

However, if you'd rather go to a specialist to get a lymphatic massage, that's always an option. Morellato just urges that you find a therapist who understands the lymphatic system anatomy and physiology, adding that it's very important. Plus. she says it should never be painful or cause bruising of any type — if it does, seek someone new.

Additionally, places such as the Body Roll Studio in New York City have beech wood rolling machines that mechanically guide clients through full body lymphatic drainage massages.

How Many Lymphatic Massage Sessions Does It Take to See Results?

As with most treatments, it's not a one-and-done situation. "The key is consistency," adds Ashley LaCambria, general manager of Body Roll Studio. She recommends two to three sessions a week for at least six weeks for the best results.

For optimal results, Faria says to maintain a good diet and exercise routine, and LaCambria adds that staying hydrated is very important. "Lymph is 95% water, so for it to easily move around the body, you should stay super hydrated before, during, and after your session," she explains.

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