top of page

Qualified? Massage Therapist vs Esthetician

Updated: Jan 29, 2022

Picture of my CLT certification on my wall.

I put this on a Facebook post a while back. Many of the people had been posting Estheticians as someone to go to for a lymphatic massage.

The truth is they are not qualified, nor is it in the scope of practice of an esthetician to be doing lymphatic massage. This of course excludes those that are estheticians that also hold their license in massage therapy or are Registered Nurse/Nurse Practioner as there are some that have dual licenses.

Well, I decided to post that here for y'all as there is some very pertinent information there.

When someone advertises lymphatic massage they are presumed to be performing conduct regulated by the State of Texas and must be a licensed massage therapist. The truth is that many people call it a lymphatic massage, but the proper term is Manual Lymphatic Drainage. To do this a qualified individual can have a license other than LMT (licensed massage therapist), but they must have at least 45 hours of Manual Lymphatic Drainage formal training (a six-hour continuing education course won't cut it). The best qualification right now is the Certified Lymphedema Therapist. This is by taking a 135-hour Certified Course for Complete Decongestive Therapy. The course I took is from Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy. This is taken by RNs, Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists (the most commonly prescribed therapist for this work by doctors for those with the diagnosis of Lymphedema - not necessarily for post-operative care), Speech Therapists, Massage Therapists, Doctors, and the technicians that work with these therapists (complete list below).

Interview your therapist prior to your appointment. Know their qualifications. Ask them how many hours of training they had specifically in Manual Lymphatic Drainage. Ask them if they are a CLT and an LMT.

Texas Law - massage definition - (Lymph is a soft/connective tissue)

Massage therapy means the manipulation of soft tissue by hand or through a mechanical or electrical apparatus for the purpose of body massage. The term includes effleurage (stroking), petrissage (kneading), tapotement (percussion), compression, vibration, friction, nerve strokes, and Swedish gymnastics. Massage therapy may include the use of oil, lubricant, salt glows, heat lamps, hot and cold packs, or tub, shower, jacuzzi, sauna, steam, or cabinet baths. Massage therapy is a health care service when the massage is for therapeutic purposes, and a licensed massage therapist may receive referrals from a physician to administer massage therapy

Sec. 455.205. Prohibited Practices

(c) A person who is not licensed under this chapter may not use the word "massage" on any form of advertising unless the person is expressly exempt from the licensing requirements of this chapter.

(e) A person advertising massage therapy or other massage services is presumed to be engaging in conduct regulated by this chapter.

Sec. 455.352. Criminal Penalty

(a) A person commits an offense if the person is required to be licensed under this chapter and the person:

(1) knowingly violates Section 455.151, 455.159, 455.202(b), 455.203(a) or (c), 455.204(b) or (c), or 455.205(b), (c), or (d); or (2) collects a fee or any other form of compensation for massage therapy without being licensed under this chapter. (a-1) A person commits an offense if the person is required to be licensed under this chapter and the person knowingly violates Section 455.205(a). An offense under this subsection is a Class B misdemeanor unless the actor has previously been convicted one or two times of an offense under this subsection, in which event it is a Class A misdemeanor. If the actor has previously been convicted three or more times of an offense under this subsection, the offense is a state jail felony.

I went to Norton School of Lymphatic Therapy for the 135 Hour Certification in Complete Decongestive Therapy Course; which qualified me as a Certified Lymphedema Therapist. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist and Licensed Massage Instructor with the State of Texas.

This is soft tissue. This is what massage therapists can work with according to our scope of practice. Massage therapy is the manipulation of soft tissue.

This is what cosmetologists and estheticians can and can't do in a quick nutshell (law listed above).:


bottom of page