Mechanical and Manual Lymph Drainage

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From 1936 on, when Dr. Vodder developed the first lymph drainage massage in the south of France, the benefits of lymph drainage massage, first manual, then mechanical, have been supported by research and clinical trials, even double-blind studies. This massage improves the face and body’s lymph circulation. It is now understood that the body’s natural lymph re-absorption that cleanses the skin and body of toxins slows down due to factors such as age, injuries, stress, poor nutrition, chemicals from unhealthy food, pollution, medications, hormonal changes, or a sedentary lifestyle.


Here is how the lymphatic system works and how manual or mechanical lymph drainage improves the outcome of skin care programs.


  1. Lymph capillaries, vessels, or ducts are located in the dermis. They make up a network covering every inch of skin over the entire body and are lined by cells that let fluid enter into the lymph capillaries and lymph vessels.
  2. Lymph vessels have valves that open and close to allow the lymph fluids to flow in the vessels in one direction only, toward the lymph nodes, also called glands, located mainly in the neck and thoracic region, under the arms and the groin. Those nodes eliminate waste, chemicals, and toxins, allowing the skin and body to be healthy and function at their optimum capability.
  3. In a balanced environment, the fluid pressure inside and outside the cells is identical. An imbalance of those pressures causes swelling and collects waste and toxins in the tissue that interfere with the cells’ healthy function, causing premature aging. Lymph drainage massage re-creates a balance of pressures.
  4. The lymph vessels are lined with very small muscles – the lymphagions. They create the peristaltic movement that pumps the lymph fluid forward toward the lymph nodes for cleansing. Those lymphagions are naturaly stimulated by contractions from muscles (exercise) or from the movements of the diaphragm due to breathing. They often lack stimulation, especially on the face and neck. Furthermore, if the lymph system is blocked, lymph vessels enlarge, the valves do not open fully to let the fluid through, and the lymph stagnates, causing swelling, aging, skin discoloration, and health problems.
  5. This peristaltic movement can be stimulated and significantly increased by the pumping pressure of lymph drainage massage. Lymph drainage massage recreates this peristaltic pumping system that allows the stimulation of the lymphagions along the lymph vessels to move the lymph fluids into and through the lymph nodes. Lymphatic drainage massage gets the lymph to flow faster, eliminates swelling, and destroys toxins.
  6. Manual lymph drainage requires extensive training and experience. It is time consuming and typically takes an hour or more to obtain significant results.
  7. Mechanical lymph drainage is more precise than the hands. It is easy to learn to use it in an hour with the guidance of a manual or video. A top of the line device allows the professional to perform a full lymph drainage massage of the face, neck, and around the eyes in eight minutes, 15 minutes for the legs, making it easy to incorporate into any skin care treatment. The device is equipped with vacuum pumps that electronically control the pressure. The massage is transmitted to the skin through two long PVC tubes equipped at one end with two glass cups that slide on the skin (one on each side of the face or side by side on the body). It is important to know that pneumatic pumps are more effective and precise in performing genuine lymph drainage, while vacuum-type, motor-driven devices are less-technologically advanced and do not stimulate the lymphagions. In other words, the body’s natural lymph system gets to work better by itself after being re-trained by the device equipped with pneumatic pumps because this pneumatic device strengthens and retrains the lymph system to continue to flow better even after the lymph drainage massage session. The lymph flows better for days or weeks. Furthermore, the pneumatic pump type device is quiet and helps clients relax and enjoy the experience, while motor-driven devices are loud.
  8. Lymph drainage is very relaxing; it naturally lowers the sympathetic nervous system, inducing deep relaxation. This is an ideal anti-stress and rejuvenating treatment.
  9. Skin care products can pair well with lymph drainage. Before performing lymph drainage, cleanse the skin with a cleanser that does not strip the skin from its acid mantle and has soothing and healing properties, then spray a toner with hydrating properties. Next, massage a serum loaded with high-performance ingredients to stimulate cellular function, as well as antioxidant action, followed by a hydrating and nourishing cream on which to slide the glass tubes on the skin.
  10. Medical studies demonstrate that high-performance, chemical-free skin care products can improve the skin by about 50% above the results lymph drainage massage delivers on its own. Fine lines and wrinkles reduce and skin elasticity improves when some well-chosen skin care product formulations are applied on the skin before lymph drainage massage. Skin care ingredients perform better when one’s lymph system works well. Choosing formulas that are free of petrochemicals is important because chemicals are counterproductive. They pollute the skin – lymph drainage, by definition, cleanses the skin from pollution. Ideally, the products should contain both organic plants known for their skin improving properties and safe, clean, petrochemical-free ingredients proven to deliver results.

Lymph drainage massage is a key component of antiaging programs, reducing signs of aging, such as wrinkles, loss of elasticity, poor skin tone and complexion, and acne, and reshaping and contouring the appearance of the arms and legs that age prematurely when engorgement of the lymph causes fluid and waste retention and cellulite. Lymph drainage massage enhances all services and the performance of products and can be incorporated into any professional treatment.



Catherine Atzen2Catherine Atzen, L.E., MBA, founder ATZEN Superior to Organic Skin Care was named a Legend by DERMASCOPE Magazine in June 2016 for her contributions to the industry. Atzen is recognized for coining the term day spa. A talented product developer, she formulated ATZEN Superior to Organic Skin Care, which combines organic and cosmeceutical ingredients – organic plants and vitamins, algae, INTACT DNA, peptides, and resveratrol, with no hormone disruptors, carcinogens, or petrochemicals, and is cruelty- and GMO-free. She also developed the LymphMed device for lymphatic drainage massage. Atzen holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business, University of California at Berkeley, an MBA from Columbia University, New York, and a CIDESCO diploma.

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