You’ve no doubt seen the Instagram posts, be it from the accounts of the famous and fabulous or your wellness trend-loving follow: someone lying on a massage table, except instead of inner peace they’re showing off a svelte abdomen, supposedly flushed of any retained fluids and looking sculpted like never before.
It’s lymphatic massage, and it’s all the rage these days in the health and wellness sphere. But for Rebecca Faria, the Beverly Hills-based practitioner behind Detox by Rebecca, lymphatic massage is nothing new.
“I started in Brazil 10 years ago,” says Faria, now 29. The Brazilian native began seeing clients in her grandma’s bedroom back in Rio, not as a business but just to practice. She moved to the U.S. four years ago and couldn’t rent a space, so wound up working out of a small room in a doctor’s office, building a clientele.
Now, she boasts a wait list 2,000 people deep and counts celebrities like Hailey Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Aniston, Nicola Peltz, Chloe Grace Moretz and many more as clients.
Lymphatic massage may be new to Hollywood but it’s “part of the culture” in Brazil, Faria says. “You grow up seeing your mom doing it, your grandma, your friends. And then at some point you were able to get it done on you around 15 years old,” she says. “It’s really big there. Everyone knows about it.”
Faria says when she first moved to the U.S. she was the only one she knew of offering the practice, and had to explain to people what it was, which was difficult as she was just learning English. Over the four years, she’s seen it slowly take on in the States.
“People talk more about it. Doctors now recommended it after surgeries. Which makes me very happy because it’s really good for you — it’s a preventive medicine,” Faria says.
So what exactly goes into a lymphatic massage?
“Imagine that you are a sink,” Faria begins. “The pipes of the sink would be your lymphatic system, and the drains would be your lymph nodes. Every time the sink gets clogged, it gets full of water and trash, and nothing can flow. The same thing happens with our lymphatic system. We have our lymph nodes, which are like the drains of the body and they get overloaded, by either emotions when we are angry, when we have anxiety, or things that we eat, like processed food. Or lifestyle in general, like not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water. Every time you put your body under a stressful situation, your lymph nodes can get overloaded. And then at some point they can almost get blocked. They can get slowly more blocked, which will make your body retain water, because it won’t be able to flush all that inflammation. It’s exactly like in the sink. And this water, I’m not talking about clean water, good water that you drink. I’m talking about toxic fluid. Fluid that your body tries to flush out but somehow is not able to because it’s way too much [that the] lymphatic system cannot handle it. Make sense?”
Lymphatic massage practitioners, then, are experts on the body’s lymph cycle and the direction the fluids should be moving, and open the lymph nodes through pressure points, pushing the water in the direction it should be flowing, using massage. Faria also uses some machinery to help with the process, as well as cupping, to achieve the most beneficial results. After the treatment, the toxins are removed from the body via urination.
The benefits are internal, but Faria is aware that people are drawn to lymphatic massage because the instant results are often physical slimness.
“They look skinnier, but they are not skinnier. They just have less water,” Faria says. “Usually when they come here for the first time they are looking for a better body shape. But after a while, my clients who have been my clients for years, they come because of the health benefits. Which are the main reasons why you should do lymphatic massage.”