Massage Modalities: Tools for Cellulite, Lymphatic Drainage, and Facial Massage

Written by Amra Lear

The greatest tools a professional, licensed aesthetician or massage therapist will ever use in their career is their hands. Hands are the soft keratin, receptor fueled tools that engage skin-to-skin contact allowing professionals to determine pressure, texture, and temperature of the canvas they are creatively manipulating. They are the most important tools for a massage on the face and body, and, in most cases, will be the introduction and finality of touch in a treatment.


Throughout centuries, the conception of tools other than hands began an alternative form of treating the face and body. These tools were designed to assist in massaging, increasing circulation, treating specific concerns on the face and body, delivering products into the skin, and adding a change of temperature to the skin. With these implementations in a treatment, the recipient received an enhancement to what the hands could not perform alone.




Cellulite is one of the biggest concerns for people and the hardest for professionals to treat with only their hands because most of the cellulite is controlled by the client, whether it be their diet, genetics, resistance to treatments, or lack of exercise. Certain massage strokes done by the hands can help to increase circulation, but tools allow a different manipulation to the underlying adipose tissue. Hand-held tools that have hard, protruding spheres can help increase circulation and smooth out the appearance of the uneven skin tone where cellulite exists. Machines that use a vacuum act as a suction on the skin, which increases circulation and aids in breaking down the cellulite, creating a smooth appearance. There are also machines that use a strong, vibrational method to break down the cellulite. All these different tools are able to add a more manipulative form of pressure to help treat cellulite – something that the hands would be unable to create.




Lymphatic drainage is also another form of massage that could be enhanced with using tools other than the hands. The lymphatic system rids toxins and fluids from the face and body through channels of the lymph vessles and placements of kidney-shaped lymph nodes. Together, this removal network of fluids, toxins, wastes, and bacteria help to keep the body functioning at its optimum level of health. It lies superficially within the layering of the of the body and too much pressure applied during the massage will bypass treating the lymphatic system. Tools have been created to assist in flushing out these toxins and have become beneficial in releasing inflammation within the body.


Curved-shaped, hand-held tools that are narrow in width, when gently and slowly scraped along the body and face, are able to minimize inflammation within the body. Specific strokes and patterns with these tools deliver a flushing technique, eliminating wastes and toxins lying in the lymphatic system. Machines using vibrational methods and vacuuming methods also perform lymphatic drainage for the face and body. Pumping techniques with vacuuming methods from machines help to act as a gateway for the removal of fluids, creating a rejuvenated appearance on the skin. When treating the lymphatic system with these varying tools, not only is the body detoxified and cleansed of unwanted fluids, the treatment of vibrant looking skin also becomes its by-product.




Rollers and knobs are hand-held tools used in massaging mainly the face. These tools are unique for the simple fact that they can be created out of smooth stones such as jade, rose quartz, onyx, amethyst, and various other stones. The rollers either have one head or two heads of stones on the tool. With the two headed tool, one stone is bigger than the other to treat larger surface areas and the other head is smaller for smaller surface areas, usually for use around the eyes and lips. The tool that looks like a knob is similar in concept to the rollers. They are smooth stones as well, with a larger and smaller head to treat varying surface areas. These tools are great for delivering warm or cool temperatures to the skin during the facial massage. Heating these tools in hot or warm water prior to use will help to lengthen the muscles and allow products to penetrate deeper into the skin. Rest the rollers and knobs in cold water or even ice water prior to use. Cooling temperatures being massaged over the face will assist in calming the skin and tightening the muscles at the end of the facial. Either tools, the rollers or the knobs, will provide the same effect with one tool rolling across the skin and the other tool gliding over the skin with more manipulation into the muscles.


When looking to incorporate tools into treatment for massage alternatives, make sure that the tools are able to be disinfected and sanitized properly. Tools for massage should not be porous, unless they are created for single-use only. Cleanliness of the tools is the most important detail when searching for the right tool to use. Also, the best quality tool is the one that is durable and able to withstand both pressure and continuous use. These tools are reliable and will last longer during treatments. No man-made tool will ever replace the organic tool of hands, but they can assist in treating certain concerns for the face and body.




Amra Lear 2014Since 1997, Amra Lear has worked as a licensed massage therapist in the spa industry. She added an additional master aesthetic license in 2005. She is trained in over 100 modalities and certified in over 30. Along with working as a dual licensed professional, Lear helps to develop treatments and train other licensed professionals in the skills and techniques she has learned throughout the years.




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