Welcome to our new January series, Something New! In Something New, each member of the LeCC team will try something they’ve never done before in the spirit of personal exploration and growth. This time, our Creative Director, Lanya, tries a lymphatic massage in Hong Kong.
I’m bloated from dim sum, but that don’t matter—I’m in a fuzzy bathrobe. I’m in Kowloon Tong, a Hong Kong district riddled with great schools and greater highways. I’m at Essential Spa because I’m here to try something new.
If you know me, you know that I am no stranger to hotel spas, celebrity facial spas, med spas, mall spas, any spa. But I haven’t tried every treatment on the menu, especially not every treatment on a Hong Kong-specific spa menu. I have wanted to try lymphatic drainage massage for a while, but it wasn’t until I walked through the streets of Tsim Tsa Tsui that I saw 12 signs advertising a drainage miracle.
It doesn’t take a lot to influence me, so here I am. I’m nervous, I’m excited—but it’s not long before I’m buried under warm sheets. My masseuse Lisa goes to work on my calves.
But first, what makes you puffy? And why might you want a lymphatic drainage massage?
The goal of lymphatic massage is to open up the lymphatic vessels to let excess fluid drain back up into the lymph nodes (Thanks, Healthline). Think of your lymph nodes as your natural “detoxifiers”. No, Janet, that charcoal water isn’t detoxifying your system, Mama Lymph is doing the actual work. Your body does this detoxification process naturally through the movement of smooth muscle tissue.
However, fluid build-up is possible. We aren’t always able to work at 100%–your 3 PM slump knows this. If your lymph nodes have been removed with surgery, or if you feel excessive fluid and swelling build-up, lymphatic drainage is for you (and me).
The massage is designed to first “clear” your detox centers by creating a vacuum with gentle pressure so that the area is prepared to bring in more fluid. Then your body is massaged to bring fluid to those centers for re-absorption. What are we actually trying to reabsorb? Metabolic wastes, excess water, bacteria, large protein molecules, and toxins.
A lot of the time this massage is marketed as “body contouring” and cellulite treatment or weight loss treatments. Nope. Sorry, but that’s bullshit. It aids a natural detox process and does not produce permanent weight loss or cellulite reduction. The only thing that I will say is that it can help improve digestion and the removal of waste products from your body (yum).
Okay, back to my calves. Just over 2 hours of kneading, draining, and pressing my body later, I emerge drowsy as if in slow motion. I suddenly have the urge to poop and pee (she massaged my intestinal area for a good 20 minutes).
I feel great. It wasn’t actually as painful as other massages I’ve gotten. The biggest difference in style is that she dwells in one area for a while, pushing up up up. My armpits were a bit ticklish.
Immediately following my appointment, I feel relaxed (especially after eliminating toxins in the bathroom). I catch myself breathing deeper, actually feeling better circulation in my extremities. Apparently, it should help my natural immune system by improving my metabolic rate, but I won’t hold my breath for this. Unfortunately, I didn’t stare at my body long enough before the treatment to see if any visual bloatedness went down, but I have gotten lymphatic drainage in my face and have seen an actual visual difference there in eye puffiness + cheekbones.
Regarding cost, this massage was $125 USD for 2-hours, but in Hong Kong you don't have to tip.
You can call me a believer. I’d add this type of massage to my maintenance circulation. While I love that our bodies are self-detoxing, an occasional lymphatic drainage massage is really great for anyone who feels swollen, run down, or is on the brink of cold.
But I’m never gonna give up a good ol’ deep tissue.
Got questions about the process? Leave them in the comments below!
Last week, Amelia tried meditation. Did it fix all her problems? No. Should you still read about it? Yes.