Lymphatic Drainage In Pregnancy: Health Benefits And Risks

Lymphatic drainage in pregnancy is a technique that consists of massages that are intended to treat some illnesses and harmful accumulations of fluid in the lymphatic system, this consists of reaching the healthy lymphatic areas, the excessive accumulation of fluid through manipulations or massages. The lymphatic system is a part of the body’s circulatory system, it is another transport network for body fluids. It is responsible for releasing toxins and keeping the body’s immune system in balance.

In the pregnancy period, discomforts such as pain or heaviness in the shoulders, lumbar or dorsal area of ​​the back are very common, due to weight gain. The pregnant woman when carrying out the movement of walking tends to hunch forward due to the change in weight. The spine is recharged until it suffers causing pain. The legs, in almost all pregnant women, present swelling and the feet at the end of the day, feel pain, fatigue and a tingling sensation.

Also the accumulation of fluids plus weight gain, cause these uncomfortable discomforts typical of the gestation period. One of the ways to alleviate them is to apply the therapeutic massage technique that should preferably be done after the first three months of pregnancy. To improve circulation, the best option we find is the lymphatic drainage massage, which is a great tool to alleviate all these symptoms. If you want to know in depth what a lymphatic drainage of the legs consists of, we invite you to read the following article in its entirety.

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How is lymphatic drainage pregnancy performed?

It is performed by applying a set of very delicate and superficial movements or massages, applied by an expert on the specific areas where the accumulated fluid of the lymphatic system (lymph) is stimulated into the bloodstream so that the body eliminates it through evacuation processes. natural.

Lymphatic drainage in pregnant women should be applied in:

  1. Extremities such as the legs, calves and ankles: to prevent fluid retention and reduce swelling common in pregnant women
  2. Back, thighs, buttocks and the back of the legs: to eliminate sciatica pain or treat lower back problems
  3. Feet: to relieve fatigue and bloating due to weight gain in the belly.

Some recommend applying massage to the abdominal area to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, but more care should be taken in this area. So much so, that most specialists do not endorse it as something beneficial at all.

The duration of the lymphatic drainage sessions last one hour and must be carried out by specialist kinesiologists, who can in some cases apply treatments at home due to the indication or special condition of the patient, in pregnant women it would be in those who must have absolute rest for having a high-risk pregnancy.

Lymphatic drainage can be applied from the beginning to the end of pregnancy. Ideally, lymphatic drainage should be applied before the first symptoms or discomforts already described appear.

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Anatomy of a pregnancy lymphatic drainage

It is important that we know what the lymphatic system is and what its functions are. In general, this is mentioned very briefly and is often confused with the general blood circulatory system. It is true that these two systems are usually associated, but it could be said that the lymphatic system is a complement or a parallel system to the blood system, both systems mutually support each other.

The lymphatic system is a complex system of branched channels or tubes into which interstitial fluids drain, which end up in the general circulation through two voluminous channels:

  1. The Thoracic canal, also known as the Pecquet Cistern or the Quilo Reservoir: (left side) is where the lymphatic vessels fill their contents. It ascends along the left side of the thoracic vertebrae and ends in the left bachiocephalic trunk called: internal jugular or subclavian vein.
  2. The Great Lymphatic Vein: (Right side) Lymph from the right side of the head, neck, right arm and right side of the thoracic wall enters the right bachiocephalic venous trunk through the Great Lymphatic Vein, which ends in the right subclavian vein.

The lymph

Lymph is a colorless and viscous liquid made up of water, proteins, fats, cellular debris and lymphocytes. In its composition it is similar to blood plasma, but its progress is much slower than that of blood. The volume or quantity of lymph present in a body of normal size is 16%. When the interstitial fluid penetrates inside these tiny lymphatic channels it is called lymph.

The function of lymph is: to repair and feed tissues, it is one of the body’s defense mechanisms and is a component of all tissues of the human body except nervous tissue

Lymph nodes

They are a kind of nodules, these formations have a kidney shape and are found along the path of the lymphatic vessels, their mission is to filter, purify the lymphatic fluid or Lymph, that is, they capture and destroy the invading pathological microorganisms, which They must not be inside the organism and at the same time they are species of lymph stores and lymphocyte producers who are defense units of the body.

Lymph nodes differ in size and also support the dilution or concentration of lymphatic proteins.

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Function of lymphatic drainage pregnancy

El drenaje linfático es una terapia especializada muy suave, dirigida específicamente para el sistema linfático en el que la piel se manipula y estira en la dirección del flujo de la linfa. Su propósito principal es promover el buen funcionamiento del sistema linfático y ayudar en la eliminación del exceso de agua, bacterias, del tejido conectivo y de los desechos metabólicos o toxinas. También alivia la retención de líquidos y la hinchazón, descongestiona las piernas y disminuye la apariencia de las estrías a causa del embarazo.

In several medical studies carried out on pregnant women, it has been observed that between the 5th and 8th month of pregnancy, women who received approximately 60 minutes of manual lymphatic drainage on their legs were able to feel the benefits in terms of: relief of the sensation of itching, tingling and fatigue in these extremities, reduction and in some cases total elimination of edema or fluid retention, improvement in skin texture, activation and optimization of the lymphatic system.

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Lymphatic drainage technique pregnancy

Lymphatic drainage can be performed by manual technique, or by mechanical technique (pressotherapy) which is assisted with equipment to apply it.

The “white blood” as lymph is also known, is responsible for transporting nutritional elements to the cells of the body and trapping from them all the waste and residues that have been produced by the body, in its metabolic functioning, as well as bacteria , viruses and other contaminants that enter it. This group of wastes are commonly known as “toxins.” In the elimination of toxins present in the body, lymphatic drainage in pregnant women above all, is of extraordinary efficiency, it can apply either the manual or assisted technique, better known as Pressotherapy.

In Pressotherapy (lymphatic drainage with machines or equipment), the pressures are highly controlled, with measurement standards designed according to the ailment or symptom that the person presents. This uses a computerized computerized system with programs that perform inflation and deflation, pressure level in the boots, arms and abdomen strap that are placed around the body, all of the pneumatic type. During this technique, applied to pregnant women, no type of pressure should be applied to the abdomen, only to the extremities, as the abdominal area must be manipulated as carefully and delicately as possible, for this, manual lymphatic drainage is recommended. .

Lymphatic drainage during pregnancy is indicated above all in the last stages of pregnancy (from the second trimester of gestation onwards) where fluid retention in feet, ankles and hands is commonly more acute, generating a sensation of heaviness, tingling and itching, as well as increased pain symptoms in the lumbar and pelvic areas.

It is found in many medical studies that on average 65% to 71% of pregnant women suffer from lumbar and / or pelvic pain during pregnancy. These annoyances can be so great that in many cases they do not allow you to attend work or study centers, logically leading to absolute rest

Swelling during pregnancy, also called edema, is caused by two causes: the hormonal factor and the mechanical factor, which act simultaneously throughout the gestation period.

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What equipment is used for pregnancy lymphatic drainage?

Pressotherapy (assisted lymphatic drainage) is currently in vogue as one of the most demanded aesthetic treatments in pregnant women. It is considered a great tool to care for and improve the appearance of the skin, especially it is very effective in preventing or reducing the appearance of uncomfortable skin lesions, the dreaded stretch marks typical of pregnancy due to the rapid stretching of the skin ( break). This consists of performing a lymphatic drainage massage with the assistance of a machine that has covers or boots (special for pressotherapy) that hug both the legs and the buttocks, which exert a kind of alternating strokes in an upward direction.

In the jargon of specialists it is also called sequential pressotherapy. Through these pressure sequences, pressotherapy activates the circulatory system, producing a very specific lymphatic drainage, consequently excess water, fluids, fatty substances, bacteria and other microorganisms that trigger the appearance of edema that In some cases they can transform into cellulite, especially on the thighs and legs, on the other hand, the lymphoedemas, when complicated, translate into varicose veins in the extremities.

It is important to note that pressotherapy is one of the few aesthetic treatments that are not prohibited for pregnant women, as long as it has the supervision and recommendation of the medical specialist, be it an obstetrician or gynecologist, a pregnant woman can use the pressotherapy technique without problems. , to avoid or reduce the appearance of cellulite or to reduce edema or heaviness in the legs.

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How it acts on the body

Since “pressotherapy”, as its name indicates, consists of the implementation of a series of pressures with air that through special devices make the different cells of the pneumatic “boots” that cover the legs and the girdle that covers the abdomen, the latter is not widely used in pregnant women for obvious reasons, then a sequential pressure rhythm is applied on the body directed towards the center of it, these movements are necessary for the effective execution of lymphatic drainage.

These series of movements are the same as those carried out in manual lymphatic drainage (by means of massages), but mechanically and with more precision, giving the beneficial effect that the pressotherapy carries out a synchronized lymphatic drainage application in which all the members they get the same amount of exercise in the same amount of time.

When performing centric massage, through pressotherapy, which moves the lymphatic fluid (protein molecules and interstitial fluid) from the limb areas to the groin, where the lymphatic ducts are located, these vessels through which the body eliminates excess of liquids and unwanted retentions, which make up the so-called return or secondary circulatory system This is the process that is defined as drainage

In turn, by channeling fluids and lymphatic surpluses towards the return circulatory system, pressotherapy manages to drain the internal venous system, avoiding the appearance of varicose veins and other very frequent disorders in pregnancy, as we already know, these processes must occur in Naturally, but sometimes disorders that impede this natural function of the body appear, in the case of pregnancy, as the body is in constant physical and hormonal changes, the body suffers more, therefore, pressotherapy is a way to help, through pressure that generates a very relieving lymphatic drainage in the pregnant woman, helping this to eliminate the waste fluids present in the tissues, improving circulation and therefore eliminating edema, swelling,fluid retention (so present) excessive accumulation of adipose tissue or cellulite.

Pressotherapy sessions usually start with a duration of 20-30 minutes. They are usually performed once or twice a week but it will depend on the objective that you want to achieve with it, without forgetting the prescription of the obstetrician, they can be repeated for 4 or more weeks.

The effect of lymphatic drainage by pressotherapy is noticeable if at the end of the session the need to urinate appears, which is one of the signs that one has and that indicates that the treatment has been effective., also the legs feel lighter, a general relaxation of the tissues is demonstrated, this is one of the most prominent effects by people who undergo such therapy. Over time and with regular constancy, a remarkable improvement in circulation is obtained, both of blood and lymphatic fluid, it minimizes the volume of the legs due to its draining action, eradicates cellulite and varicose veins, tones all the treated areas In addition to being a massage that produces a lot of relaxation, reducing stress in the pregnant woman, since it lowers blood tension on many occasions it has happened that the patient falls asleep relaxed.

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Indications for abdominal lymphatic drainage

Some specialists recommend lymphatic drainage in pregnant women to avoid the appearance of abrupt breakage of the skin or the appearance of stretch marks in the abdominal area, aesthetically this is of great value, especially since the woman’s self-esteem is very vulnerable due to the physical and emotional changes of pregnancy.

There is no proven benefit other than skin care in this area, even the abuse of manipulation of this area is not recommended, therefore the massage plan should be as delicate as possible, the movements should be smooth and lubrication It must be adequate; for this, adjuvant lotions or creams must be used to achieve a positive effect.

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Benefits of lymphatic drainage pregnancy

There are many benefits of this therapy and especially in pregnant women, among these we can mention:

  • The renewal or regeneration of the entire lymphatic system, in addition to optimizing return circulation
  • By improving the lymphatic system , more and better lymphocytes are produced, consequently, one is more in defense of infections or virus attacks in the pregnant woman , as she has a strengthened immune system.
  • Reduces the presence of pain in general.
  • It tones and strengthens the muscle fiber, both the striated and the smooth, therefore the woman can use this therapy as part of the routine of exercises recommended during pregnancy.
  • Helps and improves the urination system and kidney function , toxins are evacuated faster from the body.
  • A state of relaxation and low stress is achieved , causing sedative sensations when acting on the vegetative nervous system, in itself a beneficial perception is obtained in the body.

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Contraindications and risks of pregnancy lymphatic drainage

The ideal is to perform the lymphatic drainage technique from the 5th month of gestation, where the discomfort due to fluid retention begins to be present in a more acute way.

Although lymphatic massages can be a very positive therapy, when they are performed with the aim of obtaining lymphatic drainage, it is vital to take into account that there are some contraindications that we must consider.

In some cases, lymphatic massages can cause or provoke heart rhythm disturbances; Immune imbalances and can represent a significant danger in pregnancy when massages are applied to the abdomen or its surroundings, it can also cause febrile states, among others.

As it is a non-invasive procedure, it does not mean that there are not some contraindications, especially in assisted lymphatic drainage or Pressotherapy in pregnant women, the cases are specific and these are:

  • Abuse of the pressure or frequency of the therapy applied in the abdomen of the pregnant patient.
  • Being in the presence of bacterial infections, virus attacks, phlebitis, episodes of thrombosis or their history.
  • Avoid applying in pregnant women with congenital or acquired heart disorders, much more when it comes to pressotherapy: it is absolutely prohibited in people with pacemakers.
  • When the patient is decompensated, or presents hypotension or hypertension (low or high pressure) frequently or is her regular condition.
  • When you are in the presence of malignant tumors in any organ of the body.

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What Happens During Pregnancy?

The stages of pregnancy can be divided into three trimesters of approximately three months each. Each trimester of pregnancy causes many changes in a woman. Various, fluctuating or cyclical emotional states occur, changes at the physical level in the course of pregnancy. The hormonal processes of the last weeks of pregnancy produce in the pregnant woman the desire to accommodate a space for the baby. There is a presence of energy in the very special person, in these stages we can describe.

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The sexual activity of the woman usually decreases during this period of gestation, this occurs due to the cocktail of hormones present in the body of the same, these hormones create imbalances of an emotional nature. At this stage there are some signs such as exhaustion, frequent weakness, dizziness and cravings. Throughout the first three months of pregnancy, certain changes are perceived in the pregnant woman’s body. Most women experience some of these physical changes during the first trimester: absence of menstrual periods, tender breasts, dizziness, nausea and / or vomiting, or what are known as “morning sickness”, increased urinary frequency, feeling of fatigue , Elevation of basal temperature and increase in body weight

During this first trimester, the embryo, which began as a small group of cells, becomes a fetus and all the main organs and systems of the body are formed. The following phenomena can be detailed:

Within the first weeks (specifically from the first to fourth) : The embryo adheres to the wall of the womb or uterus, it is extraordinarily fast as its development happens, in this period the digestive system begins to form.

Between gestation days 25 and 28, the beginning of the heart rate is appreciated, the formation of the extremities such as arms and legs, as well as that the small embryo measures on average half an inch in diameter

Within the following weeks (from the fifth to the eighth): at the end of the eighth week the embryo has already transformed into a fetus, it has grown which reaches between one and one eighth inches with an approximate weight of one 1/30 of one ounce, the spinal column is also formed, the first facial features appear as well as growth of the vital organs of the body, the digestive system and the blood system are strengthened as well as lengthening of the limbs, arms and legs. The formation of the external auditory system appears in its first phase covered by a thin protective membrane.

Within weeks (ninth to twelfth): The fetus grows to about three inches long and weighs about one ounce. The placenta is present in its entirety at this stage of pregnancy. Between one to three ounces of amniotic fluid volume is contained in the placenta. In this period a somewhat rustic umbilical cord is denoted, the beginning of blood circulation activity and the exchange of nutrients to the fetus begins.

The face or complexion is distinguished a little more, highlighting the nose, eyelids and ears, the fetus begins to move more performing the act of sucking and opening the mouth swallowing amniotic fluid, moving and turning the head, all its internal organs are formed.

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During the second trimester of the pregnancy stages, there is an increase in sexual desire in women. Increases blood circulation to the sexual organs and breasts of women, which makes them more sensitive than normal, they tend to have fewer signs of fatigue and nausea , this causes many women to feel more enjoyment during sexual activity during these months. In this period, when perceiving the movements of the fetus, one begins to have possible images and have frequent dreams about the appearance and character of the baby.

The belly is beginning to notice a lot. The following physical changes are noted: The uterus rises in position, colostrum (pre-milk) is produced in the breasts, the nipples and areoles of the breast take a darker color and their diameter increases in size, the way to digest the Food changes, the skin changes, it stretches, the face appears dark spots on the cheeks called melasmas in some cases they are commonly called cloths, especially if it is a dark or brown woman.

At this stage of pregnancy, the fetus develops and grows, the beginning of a response to the outside world, sound and vibrations, is perceived.

The woman suffers more pressure in the circulation and on the blood vessels in the lower area of ​​her body causing hemorrhoids, extra dilation in the veins, strangulation of the same (varicose veins) and other related discomforts.

Within weeks (thirteenth to sixteenth). The weight of the fetus in this period reaches 4 ounces and its diameter is five to six inches. The fetus has very fine body hair called lanugo, its heart rate is noticeable.

Within weeks (seventeenth and twentieth) In this period the fetus measures around ten to twelve inches which is equal to half its length at birth and weighing between seven ounces to half a kilogram, the movements are stronger and more continuous, the birth of the eyebrows , hair and nails are noted.

Within weeks (twenty-first to twenty-fourth). Already in the sixth month of gestation, the fetus has an approximate length of about 11 to 14 inches and weighs about 750 grams, although it seems somewhat thin in appearance, it is noticeable that it has gained weight and diameter. The heartbeat can be heard in the stethoscope very clearly, the organs such as the eyes are completely open. The placenta and umbilical cord are fully developed. As a curiosity, this one usually sucks the finger of the hand.

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In the third trimester of the pregnancy stage, the growing volume of the body is accelerated, causing that in some positions it is almost impossible to make love, discomforts are present in this stage of pregnancy, the specialist could recommend some more methodologies and comfortable positions for the couple, taking into account that pain in the lower back is very frequent, so much so that at the end of pregnancy many women are not motivated to have sex.

Physically, as it is the last stage of pregnancy, it is the most uncomfortable for pregnant women to have cramps in the lower extremities, burning or heartburn, pain and heaviness in the lower back, constant urination, distended bladder and muscles the same very loose as well as painless contractions at the uterine level.

The weight gain in the fetus goes from 1 ½ kilograms to weighing 5 kilograms and the length reaches from 15 inches to 20 inches, they are very drastic developments in this stage, the first signs of childbirth arrive, in the fetus it is formed and strengthens the bone structure in general, your eyes open and close, the skin is smoothed as you gain body volume, it looks less thin, the head is housed in the pelvic canal ready to begin the process of Birth

In the final phase of gestation, that is, the 3rd trimester, lymphatic drainage is of great help due to the drastic change in weight, fluid retention and the effect of this, which is congestion or pain in the lower extremities and lower back.

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What are the effects after pregnancy?

Lymphatic drainage after pregnancy or postpartum is very effective to regain the figure and generate well-being. After delivery is when women worry and begin to work in order to regain the figure they had before becoming pregnant. It seeks to eradicate effects such as flaccidity, fat, stretch marks, varicose veins and cellulite.

When the skin is stretched, the collagen fibers are destroyed, many toxins also accumulate during pregnancy, these also prevent the free flow and drainage of substances such as water and fat, producing the dreaded cellulite and obesity. Lymphatic drainage greatly reduces the presence of cellulite and localized adiposities, being able to shape the figure and tone the skin of the muscles, reducing flaccidity.

In terms of physical well-being, lymphatic drainage in postpartum women can reduce fatigue and stress due to physical and emotional changes. When feeling relaxation, an improvement in appetite and increased sexual energy are noted.

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Is lymphatic drainage good in pregnancy? Why?

The benefits that lymphatic drainage brings to pregnant women are many, which is why many gynecologists or obstetricians indicate it in this period . The lymphatic drainage plan must always be supervised and prescribed by the specialist before starting and during treatment, the specialist must monitor whether discomfort in the lower extremities and swelling are symptoms of an onset of phlebitis or pre-eclampsia.

It should also be taken into account that there are diseases in which this type of therapy is contraindicated, therefore a pregnant woman should never undergo this treatment without first having the authorization of her obstetrician.

Pressotherapy in pregnant women could be applied mainly to drain stagnant fluids, leading to the reduction of edema (swelling), it would also be used to eliminate toxic substances, and strengthen the immune system in general and thus regenerate and improve blood circulation. It also provides relaxation to the mind and body.

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Step by step of a pregnancy lymphatic drainage

The methods of applying this therapy may vary depending on the manual or technique that guides the specialist, but these steps are generally followed:

  1. Accommodating the patient dressed in light clothing on a stretcher, lying down so that she feels relaxed, it is important that the place is clean and ventilated, if it is possible that dim lights and neutral colors are present in the room.
  2. Begin with very gentle hand pressure on the skin of the area to be treated and go rhythmically with centric movements.
  3. Go rhythmically stimulating the lymph nodes to accelerate the speed of lymph circulation.
  4. Make massage movements like pulsing in these areas of the nodes so that the reabsorption of excess fluid and proteins occurs.
  5. If you want to drain proteins, it is recommended to use pressotherapy.
  6. At the end of therapy, in the case of acute edema, containment bandages will be used.

It is recommended in the post-session to accompany with specific exercises that reinforce and maintain the draining effect.

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Lymphatic drainage points pregnancy

The key points to apply lymphatic drainage in pregnancy are: in the legs, feet and ankles to help relieve discomfort and eliminate fluid retention , other areas of the body can also benefit.

When there is sciatica pain or lumbar discomfort, drainage can be performed in the areas of the lower back, the buttocks and the rear area of ​​the thighs.

To avoid the appearance of stretch marks, drainage can be done very carefully in the abdomen, which will help make the treatment with oils, essences or moisturizing body creams indicated for this purpose more effective.

The most important thing is that the lymphatic drainage is carried out by a certified professional and that the maneuvers are appropriate for the pregnant woman, all this under the observance of the obstetrician since there are risk pregnancies in which lymphatic drainage is contraindicated.

If there is no medical contraindication, lymphatic drainage is very beneficial to alleviate the discomfort caused by fluid retention in pregnant women.

Physiotherapy of a pregnancy lymphatic drainage

Within the physiotherapy of lymphatic drainage in pregnancy we find the walls of the lymphatic vessels, where there are some species of valves, the segment between two valves is the so-called “lymphangion or lymphatic angion” whose walls have smooth muscle cells that contract involuntarily similar to a pump, similar to cardiac movements, some call it a “lymphatic heart”. These valves ensure that the lymphatic flow is carried in only one direction. The lymphangion or lymphatic heart is capable of rhythmically contracting at a frequency of between 6 and 12 cycles in sixty seconds, thus mobilizing lymph throughout the system.

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Advantages and disadvantages of lymphatic drainage during pregnancy

Among the advantages of lymphatic drainage in pregnancy we find:

It improves blood circulation avoiding or relieving varicose veins, regenerates the lymphatic system, has a sedative and relaxing effect by acting on the vegetative nervous system, reduces painful stimuli in all areas. It is also excellent for regulating muscle tone and appearance of the skin, reduces fatigue and discomfort in the lower back due to weight changes in women. It improves the immune defense system, optimizes kidney function, reduces swelling of the legs and feet considerably from the first session. At the aesthetic level, it eradicates or minimizes the appearance of cellulite and targeted fat.

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Among the disadvantages of lymphatic drainage in pregnancy we find:

It has few disadvantages, rather they would be care recommended by the specialist, who is the one who must propose the treatment plan and of course take into account the contraindications. It should not be applied in the following cases:

  • Heart disease of any kind, imbalances in blood pressure.
  • Phlebitis or thrombophlebitis.
  • Infections as these would spread faster by accelerating the circulatory movement of blood and lymph
  • Thyroid ailments, avoid its manipulation in the massage or better not perform the lymphatic drainage
  • Respiratory conditions such as chronic asthma
  • Cancerous neoplasms or tumors (currently a relative contraindication).
  • Carotid sinus syndrome.

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Kathie Sand always saw the world of beauty as the terrain on which to build her professional career, a goal that was clear to her when she was only 15 years old. Her great concern to expand knowledge led her to settle in Paris where she studied hand in hand with the best beauty professionals and with the most advanced techniques for skin care.

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