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Benefits of Manual Lymphatic Drainage Massage Part 2 (Face and Neck)

By Jacqueline / February 13th, 2017

Face looking puffy out of nowhere? Or maybe you’ve noticed it for awhile…well, good news is manual lymph drainage massage can help with that! As I mentioned in part 1 of this two part series on MLD, water retention and swelling can be caused by different factors. When it comes to the face and neck, water retention can be caused by lack of sleep, too much salt intake, pregnancy, certain medications, post facial cosmetic surgery, or stress.

According to authors of the book, Milady Standard Esthetics, lymph drainage on the face is divided into two areas which are where the massage therapist should focus on.

  • The first areas are the nose, mouth, chin, and jawline. Lymph drains to the nodes under the mandible (jaw), then down through the neck toward the lymphatic ducts at the medial ends of the clavicle or collarbone.
  • The second areas are the forehead, temple, and cheeks, and lymph drains into the preauricular nodes (lymph nodes in front of the ear) and cervical nodes near the medial ends of clavicle. *Cervical is anatomical term for neck. 

When it comes to the scalp, lymphatic vessels drain posteriorly through occipital nodes, located on the back of the head, through cervical nodes.  Lymph vessels on the back of the neck drain laterally towards the front of the cervical nodes.

Massage therapist drains the neck lymph nodes first, then massages the neck, before moving on to draining the first areas of the face (the nose, mouth, chin, and jawline). Afterward, the second areas ( forehead, temple, and cheeks) are drained, then the scalp. According to Milady, the therapist should finish by drinking the nodes on the neck again.

As mentioned in part 1 of this blog series, lymph drainage is performed with very light pressure. On the face, neck, and scalp, movements should be repeated 6 to 10 times per minutes in a circular  movement. Circular movement stretches the skin while aiding in lymph drainage. Add essential oils to a carrier oil for a more effective massage.

“Research has established that acupressure and essential oils activate both the central nervous system and endocrine system by releasing hormones like endorphins, encephalins, dopamine, serotonin, etc. This means that both acupressure and essential oils deepen and lengthen the effect of any lymphatic drainage massage done on the skin and fascia by directly affecting physiological systems that aid in getting rid of edema and edematous conditions. Because we are directly tapping into the client’s physiological systems, both acupressure and essential oils prolong the effects of lymphatic drainage massage (Luckmann).” 

Good oil choices for lymph drainage massage.

  • Lavender and chamomile for pain and inflammation.
  • Grapefruit for detoxifying the lymphatic flow.
  • Cypress for increasing general circulation.
  • Peppermint for boosting the immune system.

According to Wolfang Luckmann, author of the article A Global Approach to Lymphatic Drainage Massage, these oils can be applied in layers by using two drops each on the acupressure point after applying a general massage oil/ carrier oil first, like jojoba oil. Do not place the pure oils directly on the skin. Alternatively, therapists can mix these oils in an 8-ounce bottle containing jojoba oil or any other carrier oil.

Good news is face and neck lymph drainage can be performed by you in the comfort of your home! A great video I have personally find very beneficial is that of massage therapists Heath and Nicole Reed. Click the link below to check out their East Meets West Face Massage, which combines chi self massage, lymph drainage,  craniosacral, Chinese, and Japanese therapeutic approaches to face and scalp massage to “reveal the energetic pathways, acupoints, and marmas that unlock restrictions and soothe the entire body-mind,” as well as rejuvenate the skin, clear congestion, and calm the mind with the unique synergy. Enjoy!



Culp, J., E. Arroyave, A. Beauchamp, L. Bertaut, H. Bickmore, M. D’Allaird, S. Deitz, R. M. French, P. Hill, M. Lees, V. M. Michalun, A. Miller, P. T. Pugliese, M. Sachs, C. Shaw, L. Todd, K. L. Chance, and D. Vidra. Milady Standard Esthetics. Advanced, 2nd ed. Clifton Park: Cengage Learning (Milady), 2012. Print.

East Meets West Face Massage. Perf. Heath and Nicole Reed. ABMP / East Meets West Face Massage. ABMP, 12 Sept. 2016. Web.

Luckmann, Wolfgang. “A Global Approach to Lymphatic Drainage Massage.” Massage and Bodywork Magazine for the Visually Impaired. ABMP, Jan. 2016. Web.

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