The lymphatic system is one of the most important body systems to work with if we want clear, inflammation-free and firm, contoured skin without puffiness.
During absorption of nutrients from the blood capillaries to the body, excess fluid is released into the body ́s tissue. This is called lymph; in Latin, Lympha means ”clear water”.
Lymphatic fluid is a clear liquid, which consists of a variety of waste products from cells in the body’s tissues. It can also contain foreign microorganisms or particles such as bacteria, viruses, etc.
Lymphatic capillaries are thin vessels that absorb the fluid. Each lymphatic capillary carries lymph into a lymphatic vessel, which in turn connects to a lymph node. When the lymphatic fluid reaches the lymph nodes, it is cleansed and returned to the venous circulation. Our lymph nodes really are our body ́s detoxification plant, or as we like to call it: our skin’s deep cleanser.
If the lymphatic system is damaged or its function somehow impaired, the fluid will accumulate in the skin. This can result in lymphedema which causes swelling, pain and increased risk of infection. The lymph ́s primary task is to remove the excess fluid from the skin and rid the body of foreign microorganisms and toxins.
With correctly performed gua sha massage, we can stimulate the lymphatic system of the face and help clear puffiness, congestion and inflammation from the face. When working with lymphatic drainage, we always work in the direction of the lymphatic pathways. You can see the lymphatic pathways in the illustration by Oriol Angrill below.
We have about 900 lymph nodes in the body, 200 of which are in the neck (!) which is why we always always always have to start our gua sha facial on the neck and shoulders before moving up to the face. Think about lymphatic drainage like this: we always want to work with gravity, which means that we have to clear “roadblocks” from the neck and upwards, so that the lymph can flow freely down.
Our favorite crystal tool for lymphatic drainage is the smooth side of any of the Glow rollers and the Sculpt Gua Sha. The sculpt gua sha has a special lymphatic drainage edge (Edge 4 on the photo below), which creates a small vacuum when it is pulled across the skin. This vacuum gently draws excess lymph fluid away from the skin.
Remember to use ultra gentle pressure, just like a feather touching the skin. If we press too hard we block the lymph rather than stimulate it. When using the sculpting edge of the gua sha or the smooth end of the Glow roller, keep skin contact always and move at a slow mindful pace. It helps to imagine that you are pulling a tiny water balloon under the skin that you don’t want to let go off.
Below you'll find 2 videos on how to use the Sculpt Gua Sha and the Glow Roller to do a lymphatic drainage.