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Lymphatic Massage after Liposuction

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

So, you just had the liposuction that you’ve always wanted. Congratulations! Now, your plastic surgeon is telling you that you need to go get lymphatic massages. Wait, what?

Table of Contents:

Why get lymphatic massage after liposuction?

Liposuction is surgical procedure that can create a large amount of swelling.

The amount of swelling and soreness generally fluctuates the most in the six weeks.

All in all it can take six months or longer for your body to get rid of all the swelling and allow you to see the final result of your liposuction.

By receiving lymphatic massage immediately after your procedure, you can minimize the build-up of swelling and formation of scar tissue. By continuing to manage your swelling you may enjoy a more shorter and more comfortable recovery period. This may also help prevent fibrosis (hard, lumpy tissue), seroma (trapped pockets of fluid), inflammation, and infection.

How does lymphatic massage help after surgery?

  1. The whole point of lymphatic massage is to reduce swelling and bruising by stimulating your lymphatic system. Imaging studies have proven this technique increases the flow of fluid in lymphatic vessels as much as 20 times. Most patients notice immediate relief.

  2. Lymphatic drainage supports the natural healing process by increasing the removal of cellular debris and free fats, reducing inflammation, and decreasing the risk of infection by strengthening your immune response.

  3. It may decrease scarring and fibrosis (hard lumps), and therefore improve skin texture and tone in your final result.

  4. It relieves pain, sensitivity, and stress by decreasing the sympathetic tone of your body with soothing sensation (essentially calming down a very agitated nervous system).

  5. Unlike "squeeze and drain" techniques that push fluid out of incisions or analgesic drugs that come with side effects, lymphatic massage is a gentle, natural, and holistic treatment option that does not have any side effects or increase risk of complication.

How does lymphatic massage work?

Lymphatic drainage massage (also known as Manual Lymphatic Drainage or MLD, or Lymphatic Drainage Therapy or LDT) is a specific medical technique that speeds up how your body naturally wants to process swelling. Learn more about this research-proven technique.

One way to know if it’s working: lymphatic massage makes you need to pee. During your treatment, your therapist stimulates lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels so your body can suck up the fluid and pee it out. This is why it’s important to drink lots of water before and after your lymphatic massage.

What does lymphatic drainage feel like?

The massage therapist's hands use light pressure and small, soothing, wave-like motions. The massage usually begins with lymphatic structures at the neck and abdomen, and then moves to areas affected by liposuction.

Lymphatic massage is not painful. You may still be sore or bruised from surgery, but a good lymphatic drainage therapist can adapt to work within your comfort level. Our clients enjoy their treatments and often doze off during!

There’s no benefit to “going hard” with lymphatic massage, and aggressive treatment may increase swelling, increase risk of complications like seroma, and prolong your recovery phase. For more information about the risks of post op massage and how to choose the right therapist, click here.

When should you start massage after liposuction?

How soon you massage after lipo or plastic surgery depends on (1) how quickly all surgical drains come out and (2) when your surgeon approves of you removing your compression wear/fajas for an hour at a time. Once those two conditions are met, you may begin treatment.

This can be 24 hours after liposuction, or you may wait as long as two weeks.

We recommend scheduling all of your massages before your surgery. We are often booked out a few weeks so it's good to plan ahead. When scheduling, you can plan on waiting a week after your liposuction to begin massage (if you've had a tummy tuck with liposuction or BBL, you may wait longer).

How much massage do I need after lipo?

The standard recommendation is to receive lymphatic massage twice a week to manage post surgical swelling. 30 minutes is adequate for most liposuction cases (if you had liposuction with another procedure, you may benefit from having 60 minutes). You may need anywhere from 5-15 sessions depending on how you're healing and how extensive the surgery was.

You can estimate how much post op massage you'll need by calculating 2 hours of lymphatic massage for every 1 liter of fat removed. For example...

1 liter removed (2 lbs) -> 2 hours of lymphatic massage -> One 60 minute session followed by two 30 minute sessions, once a week for 3 weeks.

2 liters removed (4 lbs) -> 4 hours of lymphatic massage -> One 60 minute session followed by six 30 minute sessions, twice a week for 4 weeks.

4 liters removed (8 lbs) -> 8 hours of lymphatic massage -> One 60 minute session followed by fourteen 30 minute sessions, twice a week for 8 weeks.

Of course, this formula is influenced by a lot of factors:

You'll generally need less lymphatic massage if you do home care including self massage, compression wear, surgery diet, and plenty of hydration.

You'll generally need more lymphatic massage or longer treatments (60 minutes) if you had multiple procedures (such as liposuction with tummy tuck or BBL), lipo in several different areas (such as arms, torso, and inner thigh), if you received incisional drainage massage, or if you developed seroma or fibrosis.

We recommend booking 5 sessions to start and if you need more, you can book another set of 5. We offer discounts on liposuction recovery programs. Click here to see our massage programs.

Can I massage myself after lipo?

Frequent treatment is key, so self-massage is definitely encouraged! We’re happy to show you how to do lymphatic drainage and fibrosis massage after lipo on yourself. This can be particularly helpful for fibrosis.

Lipo Massage in Seattle WA

Sage Bodywork offers post operative lymphatic massage from experienced and licensed massage therapists who are well versed on plastic surgery.

If you have a question or want help scheduling, please get in touch with us by emailing



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