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How Does Lymphatic Drainage Massage Help Surgical Recovery After Cosmetic and Plastic Surgery?

Dr David Sharp

Dr David Sharp

Specialist Plastic Surgeon + Registered Medical Practitioner

Article written by Director and Journalist Liz Washington B.Journ, and medically reviewed by Dr. David Sharp, MBBS, FRACS (Plast)

How does lymphatic drainage massage help recovery after cosmetic or plastic surgery?

Originally, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) in plastic surgery found its primary application in post mastectomy breast cancer patients, resulting in significant improvements in pain reduction and the mitigation of swelling. Recent research has expanded the utilisation of MLD to individuals who have undergone cosmetic procedures.

In the context of cosmetic plastic surgery, the postoperative phase is of paramount importance, and postoperative care plays a pivotal role in achieving the expected surgical outcomes. Swiftly alleviating postoperative lymphostasis can contribute to early improvements and reduce the risk of delayed complications.

Post-surgical edema, bruising, and discomfort are common challenges that patients face during the recovery phase. To address these issues and optimise healing, the integration of lymphatic drainage massage has is recognised as a beneficial therapeutic adjunct. In addition to addressing fluid accumulation, the use of lymphatic drainage following plastic surgery can facilitate recovery by enhancing blood circulation, reducing discomfort, and expediting the healing process. Lymphatic massage can be particularly beneficial for abdominoplasty (tummy tuck), breast augmentation, breast reduction, blepharoplasty (eyelid lift) and facelift surgery recovery.

This article examines the clinical benefits of lymphatic drainage massage following these specific surgical procedures, shedding light on how this therapeutic approach aids in minimising postoperative complications and expedites patients’ return to their daily lives.

A Lymphatic Drainage Therapist Talks About Lymphatic Massage after Cosmetic or Plastic Surgery

Postoperative Nurse and Lymphatic Drainage Therapist Giuliana is the director of La Vem Ela Post Op Massage in Brisbane; in this video she answers our patients’ frequently asked questions about the benefits of lymphatic drainage after surgery.

The team at La Vem Ela offer a mobile service, treating our patients in their homes – as well as providing in-clinic training for our postoperative nursing team, enabling us to support our patients with integrated advice to aid their recovery.

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How often should I have lymphatic drainage massage after surgery?

Typically, postoperative manual lymphatic massage recommendations advise 1 to 2 sessions per week during the initial 3 to 6 weeks of recovery.

These sessions are to be conducted by a qualified massage therapist with specialised training in postoperative lymphatic drainage techniques.

Abdominoplasty with Liposuction and Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Abdominoplasty, commonly referred to as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal region while tightening the underlying muscles. It is often performed in conjunction with liposuction surgery. This surgery can lead to significant postoperative oedema and swelling, which can be uncomfortable for patients.

Lymphatic drainage massage promotes the effective removal of excess interstitial fluid. A skilled massage therapist uses gentle, rhythmic strokes to stimulate the lymphatic system, facilitating the drainage of fluids and toxins from the surgical area. This process helps to reduce edema, improve circulation, and minimise the risk of complications such as seroma formation.

Furthermore, lymphatic drainage massage can alleviate discomfort by relieving tension in the surrounding tissues and reducing inflammation. Patients often experience improved mobility and a more comfortable recovery period when this therapy is incorporated into their postoperative care plan.

View abdominoplasty before and after photos here. 

Breast Augmentation and Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Breast augmentation, a procedure involving the placement of breast implants to increase the size and shape of the breasts, is one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries worldwide. While breast augmentation aims to achieve aesthetic outcomes, postoperative swelling and discomfort are common concerns.

Lymphatic drainage massage offers valuable benefits in the recovery phase of breast augmentation surgery. It aids in the reduction of postoperative oedema, allowing patients to enjoy their recovery more rapidly. The gentle massage techniques enhance lymphatic circulation, which, in turn, accelerates the removal of inflammatory substances and toxins, promoting a recovery.

View breast augmentation before and after photos here.

Breast Reduction and Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Breast reduction surgery, also known as reduction mammoplasty, is a procedure designed to reduce the size and weight of excessively large breasts. Patients undergoing this surgery often experience significant postoperative swelling and discomfort, which can be mitigated through lymphatic drainage massage.

Lymphatic drainage massage complements the recovery process after breast reduction surgery by effectively reducing edema and inflammation. By enhancing lymphatic circulation, this therapy assists in the removal of excess fluid and cellular waste, promoting a more comfortable and expedited recovery.

Additionally, lymphatic drainage massage can help minimise the risk of complications such as infection and delayed wound healing. The improved lymphatic flow supports the body’s natural healing mechanisms, ensuring a smoother recovery for breast reduction patients.

View breast reduction before and after photos here. 

Facelift Surgery and Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Facelift surgery, also known as rhytidectomy, is a procedure aimed at altering the appearance of the face by tightening and lifting facial muscles and repositioning sagging skin. Postoperative swelling and bruising are common after facelift surgery, making lymphatic drainage massage an invaluable addition to the recovery process.

Lymphatic drainage massage is highly effective in reducing facial oedema and promoting a faster recovery following facelift surgery, especially around the eyes, where swelling is common. The gentle massage techniques encourage the drainage of excess fluid and toxins from the facial tissues, which helps to restore a more normal appearance sooner.

Moreover, lymphatic drainage massage aids in minimising postoperative discomfort by relieving tension in the facial muscles and strain on incision lines, reducing inflammation. Patients often experience improved facial mobility and comfort, allowing them to appreciate the results of their facelift more quickly.

View facelift before and after photos here. 


Lymphatic drainage therapists we frequently work with: 

  • Lymphatic Care: 0410 032 335
  • La Vem Ela: 0481 864 055 
  • Kaori Langley: 0411 380 986


The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not constitute individual medical or surgical advice.