Your first Manual Lymphatic Drainage Session: What to expect

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If you've never heard of manual lymphatic drainage or what your first session might look like, read on.
manual lymphatic drainage what to expect edinburgh west linton

Never been for a manual lymphatic drainage session before? To put you more at ease, I’ll give you a good idea as for what usually happens during your first visit at our Edinburgh or West Linton clinic.

There are a few reasons why you might decide to go for lymphatic drainage. You might simply want to feel  better, destress, help with detox and immune system support.

You might need help with your legs getting swollen after hours of sitting at work. Or you might be recovering from an injury with the view to speed up your body’s recovery. 

For full list of benefits of manual lymphatic drainage, check out our arcile titled ‘What is manual lymphatic drainage?’

Once you have your intention in mind and come in for your first session with us, here’s what awaits you.

Filling in an Intake Form

Your therapist will have a chat with you about your background and your goals. You’ll fill in and sign an intake form with your personal details, medical history and other details relvent to the treatment.

Once you and your therapist go through all the details and you get a good explaination of what will be happening during the manual lymphatic drainage, and which areas of the  body you receive your treatment on, you will be asked to undress. You will keep your underwear on and lie on the massage table. You will cover yourself with sheets or towels prepared for you and you are ready to receive your treatment.

Whilst you do this, the therapist will leave the room to give you some privacy.


Opening the lymph nodes and massaging the skin

First, your therapist will start applying gentle pressue in a slow rhythmic motion around the lymph nodes in your neck and head area. Once these lymph nodes are stimulated and emptied, they will move to the part of the body which is the focus of the session, be it a full body / front or back body treatment or limbs, chest, belly or back.

The therapist should always open the main superficial lympth nodes first, before they move onto clearing the path for the lymph. Your treatment should always finish with draining the same area around the neck.

Throughout the treatment, the therapist will apply a series of gentle manual techniques and moves. During this time, you have already given yourself permission to doze off in a pure state of bliss, until you wake up at the end of your session, fully rested and renewed.




The applied pressue is gentle but slightly firm at the same time. You won’t get (and should not be) tickled but it will still be soothing. The touch should be pain free.



Skin contact and touch

The lymphatic massage is always done on the skin directly, without the use of any oils, lotions or waxes. Because the lymph we are stimulating is directly under the skin, it is important to work directly with the skin, without any additional barriers.

If you are wearing a bra, you will need to unstrap it and ideally remove it for comfort when lying on the front and access to the full area of the back. A tight bra can also prevent the lymph to move easily around the chest/back area.

When going for a preventative manual lymphatic drainage of  the breasts, you always have an option to keep a towel across. The therapist can work around and under the towel to access some of the breast tissue.

You should always feel comfortable to express any concerns you might have and give yourself a permission to say stop. Respecting your body is the key.



Here’s our recommended duration of Manual Lymphatic Drainage session:

1-1.5 hours for legs
1-1.5 hours breasts / arms
1.5 hours torso / back
2 hours full front or back body

Although we can do perform 1hour long sessions, we feel that allowing 1.5h or 2 hour treatment is often the most optimum to get the most benefits in a single session. A minimum of 4 sessions are recommended, depending on the client needs, week or less apart.


For any additional questions  about Manual Lymphatic Drainage or to see our clinic locations in Edinburgh or West Linton, get in touch.

Veronika Appleford Divincova

Veronika Appleford Divincova

The co-founder of Living Health. Passionate about health, yoga, massage & personal development.

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