Sorry, But Those Trendy Lymphatic Drainage Massages Probably Won't Transform Your Face Shape

Every so often, there's an apparent breakthrough in the health and beauty industry that claims it's going to totally transform your life. Over the years, we've seen bold claims from the likes of everything from fish pedicures (remember when those were everywhere?) to oil pulling claiming it's going to revolutionize the way we make ourselves look and feel beautiful forever. And while, no doubt, there are plenty of new things we incorporate permanently into our beauty routines as they come around, sometimes a trend really is just that — and it goes away just as quickly as it came. We try it a few times, think it's pretty good, but then we move on to the next big thing around the corner.


That thing fighting for our attention right now? Lymphatic drainage massages and facials. Yep, it's pretty much the trendy thing in the beauty industry and it makes all sorts of big claims about the way it's going to transform the way we look and feel. There are videos all over social media claiming to show the big benefits, including plenty swearing by the technique for giving them a more sculpted looking face. But is it really going to give you a drastic new face shape?

What the heck is a lymphatic drainage massage?

So, before we get into whether it actually works or not, it'll be helpful to actually know what in the world a lymphatic drainage massage or a lymphatic drainage facial is. Basically, the massage technique involves applying pressure to the skin (be it the face or the body) in order to drain the lymph nodes, which get rid of the waste your body creates. Those who are healthy will do this with ease naturally, as the lymphatic system uses muscle tissue to work, but the whole concept actually began as a way of helping patients who had an unhealthy lymphatic system and may have contracted lymphedema as the result of surgery. 


So, the idea is, by stimulating the lymphatic system, it encourages the body's natural system to work quicker while also helping with blood flow. In the beauty world, theoretically, that should lead to less puffiness and make areas like the face more defined and structured, while aiding blood flow can also lead to a number of big beauty benefits, like more youthful and healthier looking skin. As facialist Abigail James explained to Glamour, "It's a gentle method focusing on health and detoxification. The technique releases tension in muscles and connective tissues of the face, neck and head, which in turn reduces stress and improves facial contouring." But, if you're using the technique for aesthetic purposes rather than for anything medical, you may not get the results you're looking for.


Not everyone agrees that it will give you lasting results

There has been some question about how much cosmetic benefit there actually is in getting a lymphatic drainage massage, particularly if you're hoping to come out of your facial or massage with a noticeably more sculpted looking face. Plastic surgeon Dr. Jennifer Levine admitted to Self that she doesn't tend to recommend the technique to her patients wanting that result, because while you may see some instant benefits, the pros when it comes to your face shape are just too temporary. "There's anecdotal evidence that this kind of massage will move the fluid, but that doesn't mean it's not going to come back," she explained.


Dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner, who is also the director of cosmetic and clinical research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology, agreed that any kind of facial massage probably isn't going to give you any kind of permanent change to the shape of your face. "Facial massage may give a minimal, temporary improvement and facial contour by helping to eliminate excess fluid. The only way to truly contour the face is with the use of cosmetic products for through procedures like injectables or surgeries," he admitted to HuffPost

Therefore, if a more permanent change is what you're after from something quick, trying these 24 skincare treatments that have little to no downtime may be the way to go.


Lymphatic drainage massages and facials do have some benefits, though!

While lymphatic drainage facials has its skeptics, there are still plenty out there who claim it does in fact have benefits outside the medical world — even though it may not be all that useful in changing your face shape. One of those singing the technique's other praises is celebrity esthetician Renée Rouleau, who admitted, as long as you've checked with your doctor that the massage technique is suitable for you, it's never a bad idea to give your body a little bit of a helping hand doing what it does naturally anyway. "For the skin, conditions like puffiness, acne, dryness, dullness, and even skin sensitivity can be improved and even resolved by simple lymphatic stimulation because it helps the body do what it's meant to do: heal," she told MBGLifestyle.


Professional esthetician Joomee Song also shared the benefits with Essence, admitting even if you don't see a lasting difference in the shape of your face, massaging the area will still give you some benefits. "Over time, we lose the amount of elastin and collagen in all of our connective tissue, but by increasing blood flow to the areas of our body experiencing this loss, we can rebuild it," she shared.

Plus, if you're not looking for a permanent change in your face and just want to look your best for a special occasion, getting a lymphatic drainage massage the day before may just be the way to go!

Other beauty procedures will sculpt your face more permanently

Though a lymphatic drainage facial or massage isn't going to give you permanent results to the shape of your face, there are a few things that will — and it may make more financial sense to go straight for what's going to be more long-lasting. One such option? Dr. Emily Wise, board-certified dermatologist and founder of DermWellesley, recommended fillers to HuffPost for a better and more permanent result than the massage technique can offer. "When performed by a board-certified specialist ... fillers can be injected with extreme precision and can contour and sculpt the face quite nicely," she said, admitting that will be more likely to help you emulate the effects some beauty influencers may have suggested is all down to a lymphatic drainage technique. "This, coupled with makeup and the right lighting, is likely responsible for most of the gorgeous facial contouring that has become the norm on social media and with influencers/celebrities," she said.


A few other techniques to look into if you want to more permanently get a chiseled jawline or more prominent cheekbones? AEdit recommends procedures like Botox, PDO thread lift, or Kybella. 

Just remember though, you're beautiful the way you are! But if getting a little something-something done will give you that extra bout of confidence, always do your research and consult with your doctor first.