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Facial Lymphatic Drainage


Previously, we wrote about how gua sha and other types of lymphatic facial massage or stimulation can help reduce swelling and change the contour of the face. Here, we go into more detail about how exactly this works and why diet and other lifestyle factors all contribute to our overall appearance.


The lymphatic system is a network of vessels, tissues and organs that helps maintain fluid balance, filter waste and toxins, and defend the body against infection and disease [1]. The lymphatic system traverses the body via a series of capillaries and larger vessels. Similar to the peripheral vascular system, it interacts with major organs (e.g. spleen, GI tract, tonsils, and thymus) and contains lymph nodes which are dispersed throughout the body where they monitor the status of the lymphatic fluid [2]. 

You may have noticed that when you start to get sick, the area between your neck and jaw becomes sensitive and swollen. That’s because your lymph nodes are swelling with fluid and white blood cells in preparation to fight off an infection. Similarly, you may have also notice you become congested or swollen after an intense massage; this is because (1) the stimulation can release deeply held tissue toxins into the bloodstream and lymphatic system and (2) the massage may have included lymphatic techniques that activated the lymphatic system, making it more responsive to the newly released toxins. This short-term stress is usually a good thing if you stay hydrated and support your activated lymphatic/vascular system with whole foods and vitamins.


  1. Improved skin texture: increased oxygen and blood flow promotes the removal of toxins and reduces puffiness [3].
  2. Reduced fine lines and wrinkles: Over time, continuous facial massage will stimulate collagen production, improving skin elasticity [4].
  3. Enhanced absorption of skincare products: The massage can enhance the absorption of skincare products by improving circulation and promoting lymphatic flow.
  4. Boosts immune system: The massage boosts the immune system by promoting the flow of lymph, which is rich in immune cells.
  5. Alleviates allergies and congestion: The massage helps drain waste and toxins reducing allergy symptoms and sinus congestion 


  1. Use a facial oil or serum: To help your fingers or tool glide smoothly, use a calming or detoxing facial oil.
  2. Use a gentle touch: The massage should be performed with light, gentle strokes to avoid irritating the skin. Some redness is expected.
  3. Move towards nodes: First, massage the nodes in back of your ears and underneath the jawline down the sides of your neck, then repeated strokes from the center of the face, outwards follow the natural drainage pattern of the facial lymphatic system. 
  4. Focus on key areas: Focus on key areas such as the under eyes, brow bones, cheek bones, and jawline to promote lymphatic flow and reduce puffiness.
  5. Incorporate facial exercises: Incorporate facial exercises into your routine to further enhance the benefits of the massage and promote lymphatic flow.
  6. Seek professional treatment: Consider seeking professional treatment from a licensed massage therapist or esthetician to get the most out of your lymphatic drainage massage.

In conclusion, facial lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle, yet effective way to improve skin appearance, boost the immune system, reduce stress, and increase circulation. It can be performed at home or by a professional, with professional therapy being the preferred option for best results. Clean beauty and skin care practices that support the lymphatic system and promote overall health and well-being are becoming increasingly popular, and facial lymphatic drainage massage is a valuable addition to any self-care routine.


[1] Ozdowski L, Gupta V (2022) Physiology, Lymphatic System. InStatPearls StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL).

[2] Null M, Agarwal M (2022) Anatomy, Lymphatic System. InStatPearls StatPearls Publishing, Treasure Island (FL).

[3] Miyaji A, Sugimori K, Hayashi N (2018) Short- and long-term effects of using a facial massage roller on facial skin blood flow and vascular reactivity.Complement Ther Med 41, 271–276.

[4] Okuda I, Takeda M, Taira M, Kobayashi T, Inomata K, Yoshioka N (2022) Objective analysis of the effectiveness of facial massage using breakthrough computed tomographic technology: A preliminary pilot study.Skin Research and Technology 28, 472–479.