Brazilian Lymphatic Drainage Massages Are Beloved by Celebs—Here's Why

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Sometimes, I just crave a long, relaxing massage under an expert's supervision. Not one where I'm left sore the next day but thrilled; something really calming that can help me feel my very best.

So when I heard about Brazilian lymphatic drainage massage—a treatment beloved by celebrities like Selena Gomez, Alessandra Ambrosio, and Hailey Bieber—my interest was piqued. A massage that can also help me get rid of swelling and remove toxins from my body? I needed to know more ASAP. So I contacted lymphatic drainage experts Flavia Morellato, Joanna Vargas, Camila Pflaumer, and Camila Perez to find out if it lives up to the hype. Read on for what they had to say.

Meet the Expert

What Is Brazilian Lymphatic Drainage Massage?

Lymphatic drainage massage involves massaging the fluid stuck between cells and in the tissue to the lymph nodes to pump them out of the body. Morellato explains that in Brazil (the world leader in plastic surgery procedures), lymphatic drainage is considered mandatory after cosmetic procedures. "Due to demand, lymphatic drainage became very popular there, and they have evolved the original Vodder technique to another level, combining it with some of Leduc and Godoy maneuvers. This claims to deliver more instantaneous and visible results."

A whole lot is going on in the lymphatic system—it is composed of some organs, plus a network of vessels, nodes, and glands, which carry excess fluid, metabolic waste, and toxins through the body. It then filters that fluid of potentially harmful organisms and bacteria that can lead to infection and disease. But unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to keep the flow moving—so when it's impaired, that fluid builds up, delaying the body's ordinary functionality and causing swelling, lethargy, tiredness, heavy legs, and inflammation.

This is where the Brazilian lymphatic drainage process comes in—it involves the whole body, beginning by stimulating the lymph nodes, starting from the pelvic area, the groin, under the knees and ankles, armpits, collar bone, and most importantly, the thoracic duct. It uses soft pressure to encourage a healthy lymph flow through a series of strokes and patterns along the lymphatic pathway. Vargas describes this as "the pumping technique," which helps the lymph nodes open and close, bringing toxins out of the body—or up to the center to be cleaned—so the lymph can distribute fresh nutrients.

Benefits of Brazilian Lymphatic Drainage Massage

According to Perez, the benefits of Brazilian lymphatic drainage massage include:

  • Improved digestion and immune function
  • Decreased bloating
  • Improved sleep quality

"Massage High Definition, my signature treatment, combines lymphatic drainage, fascia manipulation, and relaxing strokes that activate the parasympathetic mode, providing a delightful sensation of well-being and a light and contoured silhouette," she says. "These benefits are achieved by removing the accumulated fluids between cells and metabolic waste, facilitating filtration and elimination."

How to Prepare for Brazilian Lymphatic Drainage Massage

Morellato, Vargas, and Pflaumer recommend preparing for lymphatic massage the same way you would for a regular massage, with a little twist:

  • Take a shower prior.
  • Avoid heavy meals 1 hour before your booking; ideally, fast or eat a light meal.
  • Be prepared to heavily hydrate after. "Drinking a lot of water after helps to keep your results for longer,” says Vargas.
  • Avoid alcohol before your session, and avoid carbs, alcohol, and sugar after your session; consume very clean meals afterward.

What to Expect During a Brazilian Lymphatic Drainage Massage

The massage is an all-over body experience not dissimilar to a regular massage, with some exceptions. Expect gentle stomach manipulation and some breast massage, but you'll feel relaxed, just like during a standard massage. You should not expect it to be painful at all unless your treatment is straight after surgery, Morellato explains. "In this instance, it can take time until you feel comfortable with the strokes. Even post-surgery, it shouldn't be unbearable; it feels a bit like touching a numb area, but it is very important to bring the sensitivity back and increase the blood perfusion."

Her personal method of lymphatic drainage is unique, focusing a lot on the digestive system while incorporating plenty of breathing, as well as buccal massage that releases the pressure of certain muscles, optimizing the drainage. "It also involves a Myofascial relief that can feel sharp but worth it. Relaxing the abdominal muscles and having an empty bladder helps to make your experience more pleasant and leads to better results," she says.

Before and After

Brazilian lymphatic drainage massage before and after

Flavia Morellato / Byrdie

Endermologie vs. Brazilian Lymphatic Drainage Massage

It can be easy to confuse new treatments, especially if they sound the same and it isn't clear exactly how they differ. Endermologie and Brazilian lymphatic drainage massage have the same goal—treating lymphatic flow—but they're pretty different. For one, Endermologie is a machine, not unlike a vacuum with a nozzle that drags its way across your skin and fat tissue to release tight bundles of fat and skin, claiming to help lymphatic flow. It is most commonly used as a specific cellulite treatment.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian lymphatic drainage massage is a hands-on experience, an entirely manual, gentle massage that improves lymphatic and blood circulation. By applying the right pressure and rhythmic strokes, the fluid and toxin collection can be shifted, thus also improving the appearance of cellulite.

At-Home vs. Professional

While the intense effects shown in the photos above are best achieved with professional intervention, Morellato says there are absolutely ways to incorporate elements of Brazilian lymphatic massage at home. Not only can you stimulate the lymphatic system via exercise and dry brushing at home, but she also says there's one easy way to do it for yourself: "Lymphatic drainage doesn’t require much previous preparation—all you need is to lay down flat semi-naked and breathe in and out from time to time." (Wait, don't we do that ... normally?)

If you opt for the DIY route, try Sol de Janeiro's Bum Bum Body Firmeza Oil ($52), which Perez likes to use during her sessions. "It visibly firms and depuffs for noticeably tighter, deeply nourished skin, maximizing the massage results," she says.

Potential Side Effects

As with any massage, light-headedness is likely the most side effect, because you are increasing blood flow. But again, that can happen with any massage. Typically, people feel thirsty and need to rehydrate heavily after the massage.

The Cost 

Vargas charges $245 for 60 minutes and $375 for 90 minutes at her New York spa, while The Flavia Morellato Method of Lymphatic Drainage starts at £150 (roughly $206) for a home visit session with one of her assistants. Of course, the price will depend on the therapist, location, and method.


Taking care of the body after a Brazilian lymphatic drainage massage is a lot like taking care of the body before. Continue drinking water and eating clean to make sure the results really last as long as possible. Vargas also recommends dry brushing.

The Final Takeaway

We love when a treatment is just as impactful on our insides as on our outside. Brazilian lymphatic drainage massage is, essentially, a more intense version of the massages we know and love. Massage results can last up to 10 days, but it ultimately depends on the individual's metabolism, health, and lifestyle. However, incorporating lymphatic drainage massage into your routine will give you longer-lasting results, so we say it's absolutely worth a try.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Vairo GL, Miller SJ, McBrier NM, Buckley WE. Systematic review of efficacy for manual lymphatic drainage techniques in sports medicine and rehabilitation: an evidence-based practice approach. J Man Manip Ther. 2009;17(3):e80-e89.

  2. Stolldorf DP, Dietrich MS, Ridner SH. Symptom frequency, intensity, and distress in patients with lower limb lymphedema. Lymphat Res Biol. 2016;14(2):78-87.

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