Tips & Tricks

Book Review: “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy”

A review of Kathleen Lisson's book "Swollen, Bloated and Puffy: A Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist's Guide to Reducing Swelling in the Face and Body."

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the author to review on The Lymphie Life, although all opinions expressed here are my own honest impressions!

“Swollen, Bloated and Puffy: A Manual Lymphatic Drainage Therapist’s Guide to Reducing Swelling in the Face and Body” offers a holistic approach to reduce swelling and boost the lymphatic system.

Written by Kathleen Lisson, a Certified Lymphedema Therapist who’s also Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork, the book is a wealth of information and resources to benefit both patients and therapists alike.

In the book’s introduction, Lisson writes: “If you have had a massage session with me, you know how excited I get about our lymphatic system.”

That, to me, was a great sign. I love to learn from someone who genuinely gets excited about the topic they’re talking about, so right off the bat I was eager to continue reading.

Fair warning – this is definitely one of those books that’s best read with a highlighter handy. Every few sentences, I was underlining another interesting factoid or starring some new technique to try. (There was a lot of “hmm”-ing and “ahh”-ing out loud to myself!)

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Around 140 pages, “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy” covers a wide variety of topics neatly organized into nine chapters. These topics include:

  • Overview of the lymphatic system
  • Lymphatic massage
  • Essential oils and aromatherapy
  • Fun and playful methods for reducing swelling, from face masks and rollers to cold spoons and tea bags!
  • Importance of drinking water
  • Compression stockings (both medical-grade and off-the-shelf ones)
  • Kinesio tape
  • Elevation techniques
  • Exercise suggestions
  • Breathwork
  • Pelvic floor exercises and abdominal massages to alleviate constipation and incontinence
  • Food sensitivities and dietary changes
  • Meditation techniques and tips
  • Importance of a good night’s sleep, and how to get more of it
  • Dry brushing and massage
  • Stress reduction techniques, like a “home spa,” reflexology, music, and laughter
  • Calming your nerves before a surgery and preparing for a positive recovery
  • Staying in the present moment
  • Maintaining mental and social well-being
  • …and more!

Despite the breadth of subject matter, Lisson keeps it focused and factual. Nearly every recommendation she makes is backed up with an explanation as to how it works and why she’s suggesting it; she also provides her sources both in-text and in a separate bibliography. I really respect that level of transparency in a text like this because it empowers readers to learn more and make their own informed decisions based on the research.

In addition to her thorough research, the book is peppered with Lisson’s own personal and professional experiences with swelling. I enjoyed that because it offered an honest glimpse into her process of trying out different methods to learn what worked for her and her patients (as well as what didn’t). It was a nice parallel to the trial-and-error I experience throughout my own lymphedema journey, and helped me see that it was okay to not have all the answers sometimes.

At the end of certain sections, Lisson provides space for you to jot down some thoughts and ideas that may have formed during your reading. For example, in a section on meditation, Lisson offers some tips on how to adopt a daily meditation practice. Immediately following is a prompt and a few lines to write your own ideas for meditation while it’s still fresh in your mind.

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A spot for notes at the end of a section on meditation.

I really appreciated this because it’s a nice invitation for the reader to engage with the text in a thoughtful and personal way. By processing Lisson’s advice and writing down my thoughts, I feel like I’m setting an intention and am more likely to follow through in adapting some of these practices into my daily routine. Plus, I can refer – and add – to my notes later during subsequent readings of the book.

As a reader, I finished the book feeling like I learned something new; as a patient, I felt inspired to try those new things. All of the tips presented in “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy” felt totally doable to me, and the ones that are perhaps a little more challenging (like creating and maintaining a meditation habit) seemed within reach.

My recommendation

“Swollen, Bloated and Puffy” was a joy to read, largely due to the author’s conversational writing style. Lisson’s voice is casual and friendly yet maintains a sense of authority on the subject matter; it almost felt like I was talking to my own lymphedema therapist.

The first time I read the book I was able to finish it in one sitting, and I’ve revisited it several times since as a helpful reference. Most of the text is framed within the context of post-surgical swelling and lymphedema, but “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy” is easily applicable to anyone looking to reduce swelling or improve their general well-being.

Where to purchase

If you’d like to add “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy” to your lymphedema library, it’s available for purchase on Amazon.com.

To stay updated with author Kathleen Lisson, visit her website or follow her on InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

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Have you read “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy”? What were your thoughts?

4 comments on “Book Review: “Swollen, Bloated and Puffy”

  1. Thanks so much for your kind review!

  2. Sounds like a good book for all lymph, I will look forward to reading it. Thanks formthe review.
    Barb

  3. Great review! Thanks! It sounds like a great read!

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