Author: Mariel Kennedy, Licensed Esthetician at Ildi Pekar Skin Care
Our bodies always strive towards a sense of internal balance. All organ systems are interconnected and work in synchronicity to keep us healthy and functioning in a state of homeostasis, meaning that the body is able to adjust itself to changing internal and external conditions. These changes can be as ordinary as the body releasing sweat to cool down and as complex as digesting food and maintaining adequate blood flow to deliver nutrients throughout the body.
The lymphatic system is an integral part of our body’s immune and circulatory systems. Located in the dermis of the skin, channels called lymph vessels act as a transportation system for a fluid called lymph. This clear to yellow fluid is similar to blood plasma and to the interstitial fluid that transports nutrients into and toxins out of body tissues. Like the circulatory system, the lymphatic system circulates this fluid through the body to deliver nourishment to tissue and to dispose of cellular waste. As a part of the immune system, lymph vessels drain the waste, fluid buildup, and any pathogens detected into lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are where infections are fought, immune responses are developed and strengthened, and the fluids are detoxified and filtered back into the vessels
However, whereas the circulatory system has the heart to maintain blood’s movement throughout the body, the lymphatic system has no such pump. Lymph-flow comes about through a combination of muscle movement and vascular circulation. Herein lies the importance of manual lymph drainage and massage: the fluid’s inability to circulate independently means that some fluid buildup is always inevitable. This buildup throws off our state of equilibrium and can negatively impact health and body functions if left to grow. Manual drainage through massage benefits the body by speeding up the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste. This influx of nutrients boosts cellular metabolism while detoxifying the body by hastening toxins to organs that will process and excrete them. Healthy, functioning cells make up healthy, functioning tissue, which themselves make up the healthy, functioning organs of a healthy, functioning body. Increased cell metabolism leads not only to functional cells but also to an increase in desquamation: the natural process of dead skin cells shedding and being replaced by new cells. The movement of excess fluid results in reduced swelling, enhanced cognitive function, higher energy levels, and increased healing. You may also just feel more relaxed than you have in ages, improving your mood and mental clarity.
Luckily, there are a few signs and symptoms that imply the need for lymphatic drainage. The first is continual mental and physical fatigue. If you find yourself feeling more sluggish, sore, or forgetful than usual, this may be caused by your body not adequately absorbing nutrients or fighting early signs of disease. Similarly, you may find yourself getting sick often, be it a prolonged cold or increased sensitivity to allergens, as a result of the decrease in immune function. Physically, you may notice issues digesting and excreting food, inflammation, bloating or water retention, swelling in limbs, and engorged lymph nodes. A final, telling sign is an inability to sweat. A lack of sweat often results from water retention due to dehydration; if you do not take in enough water, your body will hold what it has as long as possible.
Our facial massages always incorporate lymph drainage as we cleanse, lift, and stimulate the skin. You may have noticed our
signature end-of-facial-massage move during a European Deep Cleanse, when we move up to the hairline before gently pressing down the sides of the face and neck, ending at the sternum. Here we are moving fluids from the face down to the lymph nodes at our temples, ears, jaw, neck, and chest. It is important to always drain down and out to release any fluid or tension that was being held in the face. Without draining, you are simply moving excess fluids around to sit in a new area rather than cleansing and detoxifying. And be mindful if attempting to drain on your own: the lymph vessels and nodes in the skin are close to the surface and only require the lightest of touch.
In addition to manual and guasha massage, we offer two facial add-ons that amplify lymph drainage.
- The first is our Detox Touch. This 15 minute massage utilizes electrostatic polarization to stimulate underlying muscle with vibrations. The force created works in unison with the manual drainage performed; while the aesthetitian applies light pressure and controls direction of flow, the electrical force pulls at the muscle tissue to aid circulation and drainage. The vibrations created go through a series of three stages that respectively stimulate the lymph nodes to open, cellular waste to drain towards them, and microcirculation to nourish.
- The second is a 15 minute Facial Cupping Massage. The vibrations created by the suction of the cup similarly assist in stimulating microcirculation, while the tension and continuous movement moves and drains out excess fluid. The result is the appearance of smooth, lifted, and luminous skin.
If you can’t decide between the two, you’re in luck: both are included in our 75 min Magnetic Cupping Facial. Add Polarisol LED and you will find yourself flowing and floating into a deep and calming sleep
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