Lymphatics For a Healthier Skin
The lymphatic system is delicately intertwined with our circulatory system to carry out some very impressive tasks. When it comes to the skin, there is more to the lymphatic system than meets the eye. Here are some important facts that will help clarify the connection between lymph and the skin and hopefully motivate you to get in that daily walk and exercise!
The lymphatic system is synergistic with the blood circulatory system however, the two systems are distinctly different. The lymphatic system and its circulation lack a “central pump” like the heart. As a muscle, the heart can pump blood to and from its four chambers. The lymphatics rely on several conjoined and fluid transfer processes. Lymph fluid is formed by a filtration process from the blood via the capillary walls. Interstitial fluid surrounds every cell in our body and is called interstitial because it is found in the spaces that separate each cell. Our cells draw their nutrition from this fluid due to the presence of vitamins and minerals in a solution that is supplied by the blood.
The interstitial residue is absorbed by a special system of ducts drained towards lymphatic passages, which then turns into lymph. The filtration towards the tissues is due to a result of various pressures which combine with the reabsorption of this lymphatic fluid existing in the tissues, to bring it back into the blood flow through the veins.
Contribution by Dr. Erin Madigan-Fleck NMD
Dr. Erin Madigan-Fleck NMD is a naturopathic physician, esthetician, esthetic instructor, educator, international author, and serves on the advisory boards for Skin Inc. Magazine, the Aesthetic Health Initiative of the Global Wellness Institute, and the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners. She received her Naturopathic Doctoral Degree from the University of Science, Arts & Technology College of Medicine, and holds certification and membership with the NCEA, Oncology Esthetics International, Certified Natural Health Professionals, American Society for Nutrition, The Society of Cosmetic Chemists, International Association for Applied Corneotherapy, and the Society of Dermatological Skin Care Specialists.
She owns DermaEducationTV Advanced Esthetic Education who launched their Preferred Professionals Membership programs just last month. DETV is a leader in post graduate scientific esthetic education and features a collaborative of several of the esthetic industry’s finest national and international educators.
Unlike blood circulation, lymph circulation is not always in continual motion in all parts of the body.
The lymphatic pumping activity is fueled by movement. Rhythmic, wavelike contractions via a series of collectors include lymph capillaries, pre- collectors (valvulae) and lymphangion’s which create a network throughout the entire body. Their focus is to channel fluid out of tissues and through the lymph nodes and larger lymph vessels and mucosal tissues that are continuous with the skin and line digestive and respiratory tracts. Lymph supplies white corpuscles and antibodies for immune defense. One of its main functions are to remove waste products from various parts of the body, including the skin. Except for the capillaries, all lymphatic vessels contain smooth musculature. The muscles contract along the pathways of lymph collecting vessels and at every juncture are propelling lymph from one inter-valvular space to another helping to destroy potentially harmful microorganisms.
Lymph circulation is influenced by factors such as: breathing (lungs and diaphragm stimulation effect lymph flow), contractility of lymph vessels, external massage and even gravity. Muscle contractions combined with accelerated blood flow (walking and exercise) have a great impact on lymph circulation as lymphatic vessels are located in the vicinity of arterial and venous vessels. Pulsations of the arteries triggered by heartbeats apply certain pressures on the lymphatic channels and facilitate the return of lymph. The electromyographic activity of muscles is intricately connected with lymphatics. Contraction or expansion of muscle tissue places a variation in the volume and pressure within lymphatic collectors. This pressure is responsible for moving lymph from various distances throughout the body. The calve muscles are often referred to as the “peripheral heart” – as the calve muscles flex when we walk, this causes the muscles to contract and push deoxygenated blood up towards the heart and help improve our circulation and move both blood and lymph.
And the Skin?
Research shows that a well -functioning lymphatic system will contribute to the tone and clarity of the skin. Poor lymphatic activity is directly attributed to puffiness of the face as well as dark circles and puffiness under the eyes and swelling of the ankles and neck. As we age, most adults develop some puffiness to the under-eye area – this is a result of the aging process and the slowdown of the lymphatic system. Lymphatic flow is also important factor in the healing process of acne pustules. A rapid transfer of waste cell fragments of lymph leaving the infection site will assist in healing of the pustule, reduction of inflammation and wound remodeling.