Lymphatic drainage is one of the most important post-operative treatments, as it is essential for a good recovery. It helps reduce healing time and achieve good results, making it an essential technique at this stage.
It is indicated for several body and facial plastic surgeries, including breast augmentation, breastlift, lipodominoplasty, liposuction, among others.
Find out how lymphatic drainage works, why it is recommended after plastic surgery and what benefits it brings.
What is lymphatic drainage and what is it for?
The post-operative period is one of the most important phases of plastic surgery. The recovery from plastic surgery, whatever it may be, varies according to each patient's organism but it is deeply influenced by the post-operative care.
Lymphatic drainage plays an essential role in the post-operative phase of plastic surgery.It can be described as a massage technique that helps eliminate excess fluids and toxins from the human body via the lymphatic system.
In simpler terms, this massage directs body fluids to the lymph nodes. These liquids are then redirected into the blood, filtered by the kidneys, and ultimately expelled by the body through urine.
Manual lymphatic drainage massage should be carried out using light, gentle, rhythmic, and precise manual manoeuvres. The movements should follow the path of the superficial lymphatic system.
Its main function is to stimulate the lymphatic system to work more quickly and efficiently, speeding up the process of getting rid of fluids and other toxins that the body accumulates after surgery.
Lymphatic drainage also leads to increased oxygenation of the tissues, helping the process of cell renewal, i.e. healing.
Why is it so important?
Plastic surgery, like any surgery, causes damage to the body.
When the body undergoes internal intervention, it accumulates blood, saline solution, and other secretions, causing fluid retention, which accumulates between the cells, especially in the area that has been intervened on. These fluids need to be eliminated.
However, the body can accumulate more fluid than it can drain. As a result, in addition to pain, bruising, damage to the vessels, tenderness in the skin and swelling or oedema can occur.
Swelling occurs when the body accumulates more fluid than it can eliminate. This is when lymphatic drainage plays an essential role.
Lymphatic Drainage: benefits
The several benefits of lymphatic drainage are as follows:
- Reduction in fluid retention;
- Regenerates tissues and facilitates healing;
- Prevents haematomas and swelling;
- Activates the immune system, strengthening immunity;
- Improves blood circulation;
- Eliminates body toxins and nourishes tissues;
- Boosts anti-inflammatory action;
- Prevents and treats fibrosis;
- Relieves pain;
- Combats cellulite;
- Favours skin hydration;
- Boosts results.
All this speeds up the patient's recovery, leading to a quicker recovery period.
Lymphatic drainage massages after plastic surgery are also a moment of relaxation, which is important for patients' physical and emotional health and well-being.
Essencial steps for successful Lymphatic Drainage
Your surgeon will give you the recovery plan adapted to you. It is essential to follow your surgeon's recommendations on when to start lymphatic drainage treatment and the number of sessions indicated.
The patient should undergo a period of rest before starting the lymphatic drainage sessions. However, for most procedures and cases, lymphatic drainage massages should be started during the first week after surgery, usually after 3 to 5 days.
Lymphatic drainage can be manual or mechanical. Although the benefits of both are similar, lymphatic drainage after plastic surgery should be carried out manually so that the professional can better work on the most affected areas.
It must be carried out by duly qualified professionals, namely physiotherapists specialising in post-operative drainage, because they are the ones who know which movements to make and which points to touch, respecting the physiology of the lymphatic system.
This is more important than it might seem: if it's performed badly, lymphatic drainage can jeopardise the entire recovery process, as it delays tissue healing and the release of toxins and fluids.
During the post-operative phase, and specifically after each lymphatic drainage session, it is advisable to drink plenty of water, as this favours the elimination of fluids.
Lymphatic drainage and various plastic surgeries
These massages are recommended after all body plastic surgery, from breast augmentation to breastlift, breast reduction, liposuction, abdominoplasty, lipoabdominoplasty or mommy makeover, which combines different procedures. But even some facial surgeries, such as facelift or rhinoplasty, are also indicated for drainage.
For example, during the regeneration process of a breast augmentation, a greater supply of nutrients and oxygen is required for the operated area, resulting in increased circulation and oedema.
During this phase, which should last a few weeks, there may be swelling, a feeling of heaviness or tightness in the breast area. In this case, lymphatic drainage sessions are extremely important as they help the body eliminate excess fluids, which are responsible for post-operative swelling.
Note: Always seek advice from your surgeon after your plastic surgery and find out which lymphatic drainage massage plan is best for you.
In case this article presents before and after photos please consider them merely demonstrative and may not serve as a reference for your particular case. These images are only to show possible results for one or several surgical procedures. The images we use are of patients who have consented to their use. Any images do not represent a guarantee of results.
Sobre a Médica Especialista
Dr. Luísa Magalhães Ramos / Plastic Surgery
PORTUGUESE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, Nr. 42810
Graduated by the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Porto, she specialized in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery, at Hospital de São José, in Lisbon.
Throughout her training, she subspecialized in aesthetic plastic surgery, having worked in world-renowned clinics.
Currently, she is mainly dedicated to face and breast aesthetic plastic surgery and to intimate female surgery.
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