An Interview with Sharon Vogel:
How Lymphatic Drainage Provides Healing Support
Sharon Vogel, LMT, CLT, BCTMB, MFR
National Lymphatic Centers, in Downers Grove, provides state-of-the-art myofascial release and lymph drainage treatments and other clinical therapies in a relaxing setting. Sharon Vogel is the founder and clinical director of the center, and is one of a few practitioners in the area to be a nationally board certified lymphedema therapist. Vogel, who has over 28 years of experience in the field, is also the chair of the Illinois chapter of LE&RN, the Lymphatic Education & Research Network. She is constantly strengthening her practice through continuing education, a dedication to service, community connection and personal growth. Vogel and her team are committed to helping the body release, repair and restore balance through manual lymph drainage and massage therapy, so it can continue to heal itself naturally.
What are the unique benefits of lymphatic drainage?
The lymphatic system works hard to help maintain fluid balance in the body by collecting excess fluid from the organs and depositing it in the bloodstream. It performs the vital task of cleansing out the cells and helping the body eliminate toxins. Anytime there is a blockage, the tissues can be swollen with fluid, which leads to painful inflammation and congestion. Our three-step clearing approach includes myofascial release, manual lymph drainage and lymph massage. The process begins with the patient lying face-up with the body fully supported. Using a gentle holding pressure, I open up the vein under the clavicle to unwind post-surgical scar tissue, fascial restrictions and other tightness. I then work on clearing the axillary area where the arm connects to the shoulder with manual lymph drainage and combined decongestive therapy, which alleviates swelling and tenderness. From there, we move to any other junctures, such as the groin or behind the knee, and perform a gentle lymph massage to increase detoxification.
Who is an ideal candidate for treatment?
Lymph node damage can happen for a number of reasons. One of the most common causes is treatment for breast cancer, whether that’s a mastectomy or lumpectomy. Post-surgical lymph drainage can speed up recovery and enhance the patient’s general well-being as the body continues to heal. A lot of our patients come to us with a general feeling of malaise. They’ve had lab tests come back normal, but they’re suffering with fatigue, brain fog, chronic pain and other nondescript symptoms. Some of this can be attributed to a sedentary lifestyle, where blockages happen because the body literally isn’t moving it through. Lymph drainage and massage opens up all these pathways and can help reduce pain, boost immunity and relieve congestion. It’s also been effective with specific inflammatory conditions such as Lyme disease and fibromyalgia. Myofascial release can help reduce scar tissue after a surgery and help the body repair from physical or emotional trauma.
How does lymphatic health address overall wellness?
Our modern world is bombarded with environmental toxins which take a toll on the body. We start each patient off with a comprehensive evaluation that addresses their mental, physical and emotional health history. We look at their posture, stress levels, diet and lifestyle, and from there create an individualized treatment plan that may include acupuncture, chiropractic, oxygen therapy, nutritional counseling, myofascial release or massage therapy. We take a holistic approach and look at how the whole body is working and where it needs more support to be able to heal itself. Opening up blockages in the body is a complementary treatment to almost any other therapy. My patients are often referred to me by their naturopathic physician or holistic therapist.
What is your involvement in the community?
Educating and empowering patients about taking care of their own health is one of the most important parts of my work. My circle includes national surgeons and physicians with whom we corroborate at seminars and workshops. One of the most recent was at Harvard University with the topic of lymph surgeries and aftercare. We host lectures and workshops at the center addressing topics such as nutrition, essential oils, emotional wellness and environmental toxins. We host a support group and run a free informational lecture one Sunday a month which includes a complimentary 15-minute manual lymph drainage treatment. My goal is to teach our patients how to manage their own health as naturally as possible, and for them to learn how to perform lymph drainage on themselves or their loved ones.
Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at CarrieJacksonWrites.com.