Lymphatic Drainage for Lymphedema


Our bodies rely on lymphatic fluid that carries foreign bacteria away from your skin and the tissues beneath. It also circulates cells which assist our immune system in fighting infection.

This fluid flows through our lymphatic system, stopping at points to be filtered through lymph nodes.

When the lymph node, or the channels between them, are damaged or blocked, this fluid can build up under the skin and causes swelling, a condition known as ‘lymphedema’.

There are a number of things which can cause an interference with the natural flow of lymph fluid:

  • In surgery, one’s lymph nodes can be damaged by incorrect incisions, or removed entirely. In fact, women who have undergone a mascectomy or surgery due to breast cancer are often found to develop lymphedema due to the subsequent removal of lymph nodes along with other tissues.
  • Infection and parasites can cause a blockage in the lymph system, leading to a build-up of lymph fluid. This is particularly common in areas of tropics and sub-tropics such as South America, Asia and the South Pacific.
  • Lymphoma, cancer of the lymph node, as well as other cancers which spread to the lymph node can cause a blockage. Radiation therapy can also lead to scar tissue developing which also blocks the flow of lymph fluid.
  • Lymphedema can also occur without causal factors such as infection or damage. It can occur from birth (known as congenital lymphedema), it can develop before the age of 36 (most common form) and also after 36 years old (although this is rare).

While there are a number of different ways to treat lymphedema, such as exercises, compression socks and elevation of the limb, one of the most successful ways to treat the condition is through Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD).

The best results can be achieved with a professional practitioner, who has completed specific training in this form of massage. MLD involves the manual stimulation of lymph fluids, to encourage movement and ease the swelling. The massage is very gentle, which reduces the chance of discomfort. The areas normally focused on are the lymph nodes in the neck, groin and armpits.

It’s essential to consult a GP or medical practitioner prior to commencing MLD treatment for the first time, as there are a number of potential contraindications including:

  • current cancer diagnosis
  • history of cancer
  • active/ current bacterial or viral infections
  • liver or kidney dysfunction
  • deep vein thrombosis
  • low blood pressure
  • asthma or respiratory issues
  • cardiac conditions

Lymphedema can cause great discomfort, but, if correctly performed, the MLD technique is proven to ease swelling and can assist in relieving symptoms of the condition effectively and safely.


Main Image Source: Wellness On Whyte

Prebiotics, Probiotics & Skin

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There remains a common misconception that bacteria on our skin can equate to problems such as acne, inflammation and infection. While foreign and bad bacteria are certainly causal factors, the fact remains that our skin depends upon good bacteria to function well.
Our skin’s “flora” is our bodies’ first defence against the foreign bacteria that can wreak havoc on our skin health and appearance. An imbalance of good bacteria can result in a disruption to pH levels and therefore affects our skin’s acid mantle. Those with dry, flaky skin who need to restore these levels, which are vital for moisture retention and healthy bouncy skin, should possibly look at the microorganism balance of the face.
This is where probiotics and prebiotics come in – gut health has been of interest in Western culture of late and probiotics are something becoming more and more familiar to the average person.
To benefit most from the likes of pre and pro biotics, it’s important to understand exactly what each of them do and how they work.
Probiotics contain live organisms which can help to replenish your body’s natural supply of good bacteria. They work to maintain a balance which, in turn, reduces the occurrence of inflammation and infection that can be brought on by bad bacteria.
Our skin contains up to 1000 types of bacteria (good and bad) at any given time. The skin on our face can regularly be depleted of the necessary microflora by factors such as air pollution, sunlight and over-cleansing. While probiotics can be applied topically to the skin, it is not the most effective form of administration; the harsh environment of an external area can make it difficult for the bacteria to ‘colonise’. Oral probiotics allow the body to make the best use of the bacteria you are providing.
Prebiotics are non-digestible. They are actually a source of sustenance for the good bacteria in our bodies, while the bad cannot live off of it. This means that prebiotics assist in the growth of only the friendly bacteria, which results in a much healthier balance.
Prebiotics can be applied topically as well as systemically (ingested) as they can aid in feeding the microorganisms of the skin externally as well as internally.
Prebiotics and probiotics have been scientifically shown to assist skin problems such as acne, rosacea, psoriasis and dermatitis. It can also aid in general skin health as a healthy balance of good bacteria helps to ensure adequate moisture levels.
There is now a growing number of products on the market that incorporate probiotics – both in skincare and makeup. Consumers can purchase from brands such as Clinique, Tula, Eminence and Aurelia that have already started to utilise microorganism technology within the ranges.
If you are looking at the use of pre or probiotics to aid in reaching your skin’s optimum health, it’s best to see a health or skin care professional to ensure that it’s right for you.
Image Source: Sinan Soyalic

What To Know Before Skin Needling

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When it comes to skin needling, it’s important to do your research both on the procedure and the therapist you are considering going to. As with any skincare treatment under the sun, information is key to making the right decision.

We have four things about skin needling that you need to know before going in to your local salon or clinic.

Consider the risks:

Without trying to sound like scaremongers, there is a lot that can go wrong if the procedure is not followed correctly. This is mainly concerned with hygiene guidelines. You should be aware that no roller head should be re-used after each client, but disposed in a biohazard waste container by your therapist. All items that are to come in contact with your skin are not to be handled by hands without gloves. If you are unsure, speak with your therapist during your consultation about the measures they take.

When your skin’s barrier is compromised, you are at risk of infection, adverse reactions, inflammation and hyper-pigmentation.

Know the results you want.

By having a clear idea of what you want to gain from the procedure, your therapist can tailor your treatment/s accordingly.

Skin-needling is most popularly used as an anti-ageing procedure and for reducing scarring, including acne scars.

Understand the procedure.

Normally, a numbing cream/gel is applied to the face to minimise discomfort. The needle-roller is then moved across the skin, moving in criss-cross motions. This creates thousands of punctures within the skin’s surface which, in turn, stimulates the skin’s healing process which involves the production of collagen and elastin.

After needling, the numbing gel is removed and, often, a cooling and anti-inflammatory product is applied to aid in providing relief to the skin’s initial reaction to the process.

Different needle, different results.

Needles can come in varying lengths and gauges, generally ranging from 0.25mm to 3.00mm. A short needle may not trigger the healing process in the skin, yet it might aid in your active skincare penetrating the skin more effectively.

The longer the needle, the deeper it penetrates the skin. These generally draw blood and reach the upper dermis layer (also known as the intermediate reticular dermis).

Of course, the degree of pressure applied by the therapist also affects the depth in which the needles penetrate the skin.


Main Image Credit: Swiss Clinic

TACHW Staff Profile: Meet Lecturer Kirsten Strudwick


Name: Dr Kirsten Strudwick
Qualification: BSc, MChiro
Position at TACHW: Lecturer

Why did you choose to be a part of this industry?

I chose to be part of the industry, as I wanted to be involved in the advancing movement in anti-ageing skin management and wellness. In the growing industry market, with new and ever developing technology, and a high demand for qualified practitioners to deliver these new technologies, higher standards of education are imperative for the clinical aestheticians today.

What recent industry developments are you most excited about?

In today’s fast moving society, recent advancements in skin rejuvenation have allowed for minimally invasive procedures that are quicker, more affordable, and with no downtime. You can do them in your lunch break.

What has been the most significant shift in the industry that you’ve seen in the past 10 years?

Consumers are spending more on skin rejuvenation than ever before. This can be seen by an increase in the number of spa and laser clinics Australia wide. With a wide variety of choices, consumers are making informed decisions about the services they receive and who delivers them. Individuals are looking for the more qualified and educated clinical aestheticians rather than a therapist with minimal specialised training.

Where do you see the industry moving now, in terms of careers and study prospects?

The industry is propelling forward with vast improvements in technology and advancements in anti-ageing techniques. Greater career opportunities are around every corner, with many people choosing to study dermal therapies as their primary career path.

Why is education so important within this growing industry?

The role of the clinical aesthetician is ever evolving; there is now a demand to be more proficient and knowledgeable in the anatomy and physiology of the skin. It only benefits the industry as a whole to have an advanced understanding of the cause for correct diagnosis of specific skin conditions. Education provides an armoury of tools to ensure best practice and better outcomes for clients.

How Fatigue Affects Your Skin

Image Credit: MPS Skin Clinic

Many factors affect the quality of our skin’s health and appearance; from consuming the correct nutrients, to exercise and correct cleansing regimes, however your sleep routine, and the quality of your sleep, can play a significant role in the overall efficacy of your cells and the skin’s ability to regenerate.

The body uses sleep to repair and rejuvenate; Human Growth Hormone, as adults, assists in tougher skin and bones, and is released during a cycle of deep sleep, ensuring our bodies are in their most  effective reparative state. Without adequate rest, your body struggles to maintain physical homeostasis (the natural state of balance), resulting in ineffective functioning of the body’s natural healing and regeneration processes.

Imbalanced skin.

Lack of sleep can lead to an imbalance of moisture and PH levels in the skin. Low PH levels inhibit the body’s ability to produce the necessary moisture to keep skin healthy and hydrated, resulting in tight, dry skin texture. This imbalance can also lead to redness and can even cause breakouts due to sebaceous glands overcompensating for the pH imbalance.

Detox time.

Throughout the day, your skin is exposed to various environment pollutants and UV rays. During sleep, your body works to dispose of these toxins. In fact, studies have shown that the brain can remove up to 60% more toxins when the body is receiving adequate sleep and rest. Without the opportunity to rid itself of pollutants, the skin can suffer from blemishes and dullness.


The body accumulates fluids during the course of the day, relying on the rest period at night to assist in draining and removing these fluids. It’s also been suggested that sleeping on your left hand side can assist in more effective lymph drainage and less stress on the cardiovascular system due to the position of the aorta on the left hand side of the heart. Left hand side sleeping also aids in digestion and optimises spleen function.

Sleeping with your head slightly elevated can also assist in reducing puffiness around the eye area, as gravity assists in draining fluids from the area.

Tired translates to stress

Even if you may not feel it, our bodies read a lack of sleep as ‘stress’ as we are pushing it to its limits, prompting the adrenal gland to release the stress hormone cortisol. Over time, cortisol can lead to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which are responsible for firmness and elasticity in the skin. Furthermore, stress has also been related to the interruption of melanin production; as melanin is responsible for the pigment in your skin, a lack of it can lead to a sallow complexion.

It’s so important to give your body adequate rest, especially now that we know just how detrimental it can be to our skin and overall health.