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The Medical Value of Manual Lymphatic Drainage

By: Terri A. Wojak
Posted: December 30, 2011, from the January 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
manual lymphatic drainage on a skin care client

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An esthetician can incorporate manual lymphatic drainage into a variety of facial treatments, although it is most commonly performed pre- and post-operatively in a medical office with a physician’s referral. Many physicians recommend this treatment to reduce the risk of side effects, such as bruising, swelling and the buildup of scar tissue.

What physicians and estheticians don’t always recognize is the psychological benefits that come along with offering pre- and post-operative treatments. The ultimate goal is not only to make patients look better, but also, more importantly, to make them feel better. Going through a surgical procedure can be nerve-racking. Patients tend to feel more at ease in the tranquil setting of an esthetic treatment room during a relaxing treatment, as opposed to a checkup in a clinical room. This gives the surgical patients a tendency to feel more comfortable speaking with the esthetician about any questions they may have, because it can be intimidating for some to express their concerns to the physician. Increasing contact opportunities with multiple staff members also fosters positive relationships, which helps to build trust in the physician. Repeat visits give the esthetician a chance to confirm the patient’s continued happiness with their experience. Patients value the personal time with the esthetician, as well as the continued support they receive from the physician. The medical esthetic practice should be thought of as a pleasant place where high expectations are always met.

Become an asset

There are many other areas in which manual lymphatic drainage can be used in esthetics. It is often used in place of traditional massage, which can be too stimulating for clients with sensitive skin. In cases of acne and rosacea, the two most common sensitive skin conditions, it can reduce inflammation associated with flare-ups. Manual lymphatic drainage can also be performed by estheticians as a beauty treatment that can help reduce puffiness, fine lines and wrinkles to rejuvenate the skin’s appearance.1 Overall, the ability to perform this treatment helps make the esthetician a valuable asset to a medical practice.


1. I Kurz, Textbook of Vodder’s Manual Lymph Drainage, Vol. 2: Therapy. Haug Publishing, Heidelburg (1997)

Terri A. Wojak is a licensed esthetician with more than 14 years of experience. She has knowledge in all aspects of the skin care industry, including education, sales, medical aesthetics, management and ownership, and she is the director, as well as an educator, at True University in Chicago. She can be reached at 312-335-2070, or via e-mail at