Lymphatic Drainage for Plastic Surgery Recovery

Lymphatic Drainage Massage is frequently recommended by plastic surgeons during the recovery phase following cosmetic procedures. It helps to decrease recovery time and improve results, by reducing post-surgical swelling and fibrosis (scar tissue formation). You may complement your treatment with Cosmetic Kinesio Taping for more accelerated results.

Plastic Surgery Side Effects:

Edema & Swelling:

After any trauma to the body, cells release chemicals which affect the absorbency of blood vessels in the area of the injury. Surgery, although controlled, causes trauma. This increase in permeability allows lymph fluids, white blood cells, and other chemicals to flood the areas to start the healing process. This process is known as inflammation or edema.

Excessive fluid or localized pockets of fluid may slow recovery and/or make the results less aesthetically optimal by encouraging uneven healing and fibrosis. Resulting in longer recovery times, greater pain, and health complications. Uncontrolled swelling could potentially create other complications such as small pockets of fluid becoming trapped (‘seroma’) and infection.

Lymphatic Drainage Massage stimulates lymph nodes and increases rhythmic contractions of the lymph vessels to enhance their activity so that stagnant lymphatic fluid can be rerouted.


Bruising appears after surgery because of blood leaking from capillaries once the surgery is complete. Although most of these blood vessels are cauterized during surgery, there may be some mild bleeding when the blood pressure returns to normal. There is no reason for concern, as bruising is inevitable after surgery and is rarely serious.

Bruising is never pretty, especially for the first few days following surgery. It is particularly unpleasant when it affects highly visible areas like the face. For the first few days, the bruising will be black, dark purple, or blue. And then should fade down to a green, yellow, or brown hue. The skin should return to normal afterward and completely subside after a couple of weeks.

Bruises are broken down cellular tissue and old red blood cells stuck in the tissues after surgery. Lymphatic Drainage moves these waste products out of the areas where they are trapped so that you can regain function more quickly.


When the body is injured, including by surgery, specialized cells rush to the area to help stabilize the tissue.  This natural inflammatory response is initially a very good thing because it helps to protect us from further damage. If the body is healing normally, these specialized stabilizing cells, as well as cellular debris, are gently removed, and normal function is restored.

When lymph flow is compromised such as post-surgery, the accumulation of these stabilizing proteins can be significant, causing lumps to form, known as fibrosis. Excessive fibrosis may be noticed to the touch or be visible. It may restrict motion and produce and overall sense of tightness.

Fibrosis can be prevented or reduced with lymphatic drainage because it removes fluid buildup, helps to break down the accumulation of large protein structures, and enhances proper lymphatic flow. 

If you have developed chronic fibrosis post-surgery it is suggested you receive a combination of Lymphatic Drainage, Ultrasound, Myofascial Release, Cupping Therapy, and fascia stretches.


When a surgery is performed lymphatic vessels are cut. Over time, lymph vessels will rebuild. But as scar tissue forms it can inhibit the proper function of these vessels, resulting in prolonged swelling, pain, reduced range of motion and numbness. Scarring will naturally diminish with time as the tissue gradually remodels itself, but this process can be long, and some scarring is likely to be permanent.

Lymph drainage helps heal damaged lymph vessels, reconnects interrupted routes, and creates new pathways where necessary.  Over time pathways can be restored in scars and adhesions. This results in restored health, proper flow, and vitality in the area of surgery and overall health.

  • For healing scars, we recommend you complement your Lymph Drainage Therapy with Scar Mobilization Techniques:

3-4 weeks after surgery, depending on scar maturation it may be indicated to do very gentle scar mobilization techniques along with continued Lymphatic Drainage.

With mature scars (they are no longer red), usually ones of over 3-9 months one may receive more specific scar mobilization techniques along with Cupping Therapy or Myofascial Release techniques to break up fibrotic tissue and making scars softer and less visible.

Pain Management:

By decreasing edema, bruising, fibrosis and scaring one will notice much improved range of motion and an overall decrease in pain with Lymphatic Drainage Massage and other post-surgery recovery therapies.

Special Post-Surgery Considerations for Lymph Drainage:


Is Lymphatic Massage Painful?

No! It is NOT painful. If you have gotten a painful Lymphatic Drainage session, that was Not true lymphatic drainage, it was performed by someone who is not properly trained in Lymphatic Drainage. When done correctly, Lymphatic Massage is gentle and soothing – even right after surgery.

How soon after surgery should I start my Lymphatic Drainage sessions?

Surgeons often recommend that their patients supplement their recovery with lymphatic drainage as early as possible, ideally within the first few day’s post-surgery. The idea behind this recommendation is that lymphatic drainage can help prevent and alleviate the build-up of fluid and formation of scar tissue. We recommend you get your drainage tubes taken out before you come to us for your sessions.

How many sessions will I need?

The answer to that depends on the type of plastic surgery you got and how extensive it was. Most physicians will recommend a series of 2-3 sessions per week for the first 1-4 weeks. For liposuction surgeries, where the damage to the lymphatic system is more comprehensive, it may be necessary to follow a regimen for several weeks to a few months post-surgery to fully re-establish healthy lymphatic flow.

Should I get Electro-Lymphatic Drainage or Manual Lymphatic Drainage?

We offer both here at the clinic. And we highly suggest that you chose Electro-Lymph Therapy to rehab after your plastic surgery. Although Manual Lymph Drainage is extremely beneficial when done by a well-trained Lymphatic Therapist, Electro-Lymph Therapy is much more effective.  It uses state of the art tools to significantly improve lymphatic flow, break down debris and large proteins. It precisely targets and unclogs crystalized pockets of lymph located in the lymph nodes or in lymphatic pathways throughout the body. It is painless, very relaxing, and extremely effective.

What other therapies should I complement my Lymphatic Drainage sessions with?

Esthetic Kinesio Taping can increase the lymphatic drainage benefits of your treatments, to decrease bruising and swelling. As well as helping increase muscle tone when needed or to relax tissues when that is appropriate.

We also recommend one may receive more specific scar mobilization techniques along with Cupping Therapy or Myofascial Release techniques to break up fibrotic tissue and making scars softer and less visible. As well as Abdominal Massage if you have had a Tummy Tuck (abdominoplasty), or any other abdominal surgeries such as C-Sections.

Uma Clinic is here to help you heal from your Cosmetic Surgery so you can have the most optimal results. We can help you recover from tummy tucks, liposuction, Brazilian Butt Lifts (BBL), mommy makeovers, facelifts, mastectomies, breast enhancements and reductions, as well as reconstruction surgeries post mastectomy.