I Tried It: Lymphatic Drainage for Toxin Removal

10.14.2022 — Sara Li

I Tried It is a monthly column where the Frenshe team tries all things wellness for ourselves—we want to be confident in what we recommend to the community, so follow along to see what our personal experiences in the world of health and beauty.

Like with most wellness practices nowadays, I first heard about lymphatic drainage through Instagram. At first, it was a friend of a friend, then an influencer, a beauty editor, and before long, it felt like everyone was raving about it. I loosely knew what ‘lymphatic’ means in relationship to our bodies from face roller, but I had never gotten a drainage or a massage. I like to think I have a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to health treatments—I’m a healthy 26-year-old and I work for a company all about self-care, so wellness is always top of my mind. But I was curious to see the benefits for myself and see what all the buzz was about.

To try it first-hand, I went to Le Jolie Med Spa in Los Angeles. I had three sessions for maximum results and was able to talk to the co-founder, Sharona Rafaeloff, about what exactly was going to happen in my 60-minute appointment. First: what exactly is it?

Lymphatic massage, sometimes called manual lymphatic drainage, is a specialized type of medical massage. It can help treat fluid collection (think: excess water) in certain areas of the body because it cannot drain away on its own.

The benefits of lymphatic drainage are boosting your immune system, eliminating bloating and water retention, reducing stress, anxiety, and fatigue, expediting the removal of waste and toxins from the body’s tissues, and improves circulation.

Sharona Rafaeloff

The lymphatic system also helps to remove toxins and other impurities from the body, such as carbon dioxide, sodium and other byproducts of cellular feeding on oxygen, minerals and nutrients. “We, as humans, sometimes consume processed foods and alcohol which build up toxins in our bodies. The system helps to remove these impurities and dispose of them through perspiration, bowel movements, urine and breath work,” said Rafaeloff. For the best effects, a professional may recommend lymphatic drainage from once per month to once per week.

For my session, my masseuse led to a quiet and tranquil room. She started to massage my legs, arms, shoulders, and stomach with a drainage tool. Interestingly enough, I could feel where I held my stress during the treatment too. I wouldn’t necessarily call the drainage itself relaxing because she was massaging toxins out of my body and depending on the sensitivity, I could definitely feel the build up and where it was stuck. My most uncomfortable session was the morning after I had a ton of pasta, but it wasn’t anything unbearable.

The tool was creates a mini-vacuum like feeling against your skin—it literally sucks the build up out of you via your lymph nodes. Unlike a massage where they use their hands, this treatment consisted of machinery for more efficient and long-lasting results. Afterwards, I was wrapped in a saran-like cover that was hooked into another drainage machine. If you’ve ever gotten your blood pressure checked through a monitor that squeezes your arms (like the ones in CVS and Walgreens), it feels exactly like that. That part of the treatment lasts around 15-20 minutes and it was the perfect soothing, calm down.

The most important thing to remember after lymphatic drainage is to stay hydrated, since you sweat off your toxins during the process. I definitely noticed an immediate change in how I felt after the drainage, particularly the sluggish post-Pasta fog was lifted from the treatment. If you’re curious about how the body holds onto toxins and want to invest in a treatment to maintain a healthy balance, I would recommend lymphatic drainage. Just talk to your provider beforehand about expectations and sensitivities, as you would any treatment.

  • Sara Li is a Los Angeles based writer and editor. She covers the intersection of beauty and identity; you can find her work on her website and follow her on Instagram (@sarajinli) and Twitter (@iamsarali). She also has a Substack called 'Gut Feelings'.

Sara Li
Sara Li is a Los Angeles based writer and editor. She covers the intersection of beauty and identity; you can find her work on her website and follow her on Instagram (@sarajinli) and Twitter (@iamsarali). She also has a Substack called 'Gut Feelings'.