In one of my previous articles, I discussed hijama, also known as wet cupping. A less intense but equally beneficial version of this procedure is dry cupping or the regular vacuum massage with cups. One major advantage of this practice is that you can perform it on your own.

What is Cupping Vacuum Massage?

Cupping vacuum massage is a mechanical massage technique that uses negative pressure. The air is pumped out of the cup, creating a vacuum, and the skin is drawn in. The difference in pressure between the inside of the cup and the body tissues contributes to its therapeutic effect.

Why You Should Consider Cupping Vacuum Massage

Cupping vacuum massage brings numerous benefits, making it a popular practice in various fields, from physiotherapy to cosmetology. Here are some of its advantages:

  • Blood Circulation Stimulation: Cupping massage enhances blood circulation and stimulates the oxygen supply to the tissues. This accelerates the body’s regeneration and healing processes.
  • Detoxification: The vacuum effect resembles that of a deep tissue massage, stimulating the lymphatic system and aiding the body in eliminating toxins and waste.
  • Muscle Tension Relief: Cupping massage can help to relax tense and tired muscles, making it beneficial for people who lead active lifestyles or participate in sports.
  • Combatting Cellulite: Cupping massage stimulates metabolism and encourages blood flow to the skin’s surface, helping break down fat deposits and reduce cellulite.
  • Skin Elasticity Enhancement: The stimulation of blood circulation and lymph flow also improves the skin condition, making it softer and more elastic.
  • Overall Health Improvement: Cupping massage contributes to overall well-being by helping to relieve stress, improve sleep, and elevate mood.

The cupping vacuum massage, accessible to everyone and replete with benefits, is definitely a procedure worth considering. Whether you’re aiming for detoxification, muscle tension relief, or simply a boost in your overall health, this massage technique could be just the ticket.

Choosing the Right Cups for Your Massage

Different types of vacuum cups are available to choose from, depending on your specific goals and areas of application. These include silicone, latex, plastic, rubber, and glass cups.

Silicone cups are a popular choice for facial massages, thanks to their safety, affordability, and gentle application. They don’t damage the skin, cause allergies, or require pre-heating. However, due to the low vacuum they create, their effect is primarily superficial and they may be ineffective for targeting deeper tissue layers.

Latex and plastic cups serve as versatile options. They are suitable for massaging any body part, including thighs, abdomen, face, and back. These cups don’t require heating and are quite durable, making them convenient and practical. Plastic cups are typically used with a mechanical pump: the air is pumped out through a special valve on the cup, enabling you to easily control the pressure. To remove the cup, all you need to do is open the valve. A flexible hose often comes with the pump kit, allowing for self-application of the cups in hard-to-reach areas like the back.

Rubber cups have the ability to affect deeper layers of the epidermis, providing a more profound effect. However, they do have some disadvantages: they absorb odors, lose their shape quickly, and require heating. These cups are best used for massaging the face, arms, shoulders, legs, and buttocks. The vacuum in such cups is created by a “bulb”, resulting in a small pressure difference.

Glass cups serve a special purpose. Thanks to their deep tissue penetration capability, they are perfect for combating cellulite and massaging the back and limbs. However, glass cups are easily breakable, and older models require special preparation, including pre-heating and air pumping.

How to Perform a Vacuum Massage


Before starting the procedure, it’s necessary to apply oil to the surface of your skin. Cups adhere less effectively to dry skin and may allow air to enter. If you dislike the sensation of oily residues on your skin, you can wipe off the remaining oil with wipes, a towel, or even take a bath afterwards.

You can opt for baby oil. It is hypoallergenic, vitamin-enriched, and doesn’t leave a film on the skin. This is also a good choice for those who dislike fragrances, as these products don’t have a specific scent.

There are two types of massage:

Static: In this method, you apply the cup and leave it undisturbed for a while. The specific area gets well worked on, but red circles may appear on the skin.

Dynamic or sliding: The cup is first attached to the skin and then moved around. This massage technique provides less deep stimulation but allows covering a larger area without leaving any red spots.

How to perform a static vacuum massage

Prepare your skin as described above. Extract the air from the first cup and secure it. The fold inside should be no more than 1.5 cm.

Place the cups approximately 5–10 cm apart from each other.

Your first session should be short—spend 3–5 minutes on each area (back, thighs, etc.). Gradually, you can extend the duration of each session to 15–20 minutes, adding no more than 5 minutes per session.

The individual should not feel pain or severe discomfort. If they do, remove the cups.

When the time is up, press the skin and carefully lift the edge of the cup. The pressure will equalize, and the cup will detach on its own. Or simply open the valve, if there is one. If there are any oil residues left on the skin, wipe it off with a soft towel or blot it with a paper towel.

How to Perform a Sliding Vacuum Massage

Prepare your skin. Position the rubber cup on the skin using two fingers. Press the top part to release the air, then swiftly remove your fingers from beneath the cup. The cups with pumps are applied similarly to the static massage.

Smoothly, without detaching from the skin, guide the cup along the massage lines, and then return back. You can move in straight lines, zigzags, figure eights, or spirals.

Pain and Bruising After Cupping

After the initial procedures, painful sensations and bruises, also known as extravasations, may appear. This is normal and to be expected. Typically, extravasations appear only after the first few procedures and may last from 2 to 7 days. Each time, the marks will fade more. After several sessions, the marks should stop appearing altogether.

For vacuum cupping massage, extravasations are an indicator of effectiveness, and there’s no need to worry about them. The body initiates a “self-healing” mechanism that helps heal the spots and rejuvenate the tissues.

A bruise is the result of blood vessels sweating. With this technique, no damage to the vessel walls occurs. Due to the pressure differential, blood cells escape through the capillaries, hence leaving marks.

Dark bruises indicate chronic fluid congestion in the tissues, so the massage should be performed more intensely in these areas. The patient should also increase their physical exercise. Bright shades suggest strain on the muscle framework and a lack of oxygen. The appearance of swelling in areas of extravasation indicates problems with the individual’s lymphatic drainage.

Contraindications for Cupping Massage

While this practice has many benefits, there are situations where it can be harmful. Certain conditions can make the increased pressure and accelerated lymph flow dangerous. In these situations, one should avoid this method as it could potentially cause harm:

  1. Life-threatening conditions, cancer: This procedure could potentially exacerbate these situations.
  2. Varicose veins: Although the method is beneficial for varicose veins and strengthens vessels, the pain may intensify with this therapy. In this case, it’s crucial to perform the procedure under a specialist’s supervision.
  3. Pregnancy: Significant changes occur in a woman’s body during pregnancy, and this massage could cause stress, which is unsafe for both the woman and the fetus. In the first few months post-childbirth, cupping should also be avoided. However, if the pregnant woman is familiar with the procedure and is comfortable with it, it may be permissible.
  4. Acute illnesses: You should wait for an improvement in your condition before starting the massage.
  5. Skin lesions, damage to the epidermis: The pressure from the cups could worsen the condition of the skin. Wait until any wounds have healed before starting cupping.

Tips to Improve Cupping Massage

To enhance the benefits and enjoyment of the process, consider the following:

  1. Water Balance: Drink water before and after the manual procedure. This will improve the recovery process and prevent dehydration. If your body is consistently well-hydrated, lymph will not stagnate. This can hasten the reduction of cellulite and reduce swelling.
  2. Regularity: Cupping massage isn’t a magic pill. A single session won’t cure all ailments. Consistency will help you achieve your goal.
  3. Alternation: Don’t concentrate on one area alone. You can perform vacuum massages on various areas, but it’s not advisable to cover all areas in a single session. Create a schedule for yourself: for example, buttocks one day, arms the next, face on the third day.
  4. Track Progress: Keep a few photos before starting the treatment or maintain a treatment diary. Record the changes that occur. This information will inspire you and help you understand what can be improved.
  5. Post-Procedure Care: To reduce discomfort from the initial procedures and aid skin recovery, take a shower after the therapy. Use a soft towel, and don’t apply too much pressure to the skin. For the first few hours, avoid wearing clothes made from synthetic fabrics. Apply a healing cream and rest.
  6. Massage Areas: Avoid pigmented spots and raised birthmarks during the massage.

Questions and Answers

Does dry cupping involve blood extraction?

Dry cupping does not involve blood extraction. The process involves creating a vacuum inside a cup and placing it onto the skin. The vacuum causes the skin and superficial muscle layers to be lightly drawn into the cup, which may result in local congestion and thus promotes blood circulation and healing.

Is cupping capable of fat removal?

Cupping is often claimed to aid in the process of fat removal, but it’s crucial to clarify what that really means. The procedure itself does not “remove” fat in the same sense as surgical procedures like liposuction. Rather, cupping therapy may help break down fat cells located beneath the skin by improving blood circulation, reducing inflammation, and encouraging detoxification.

Cupping therapy can potentially stimulate the body’s metabolism and encourage the body to use its own natural processes to break down fat cells more effectively. As a result, these broken-down fat cells can then be eliminated by the body’s lymphatic system.

Can cupping assist in reducing love handles?

Yes, cupping therapy may assist in reducing love handles. While it’s not a magic solution for weight loss, cupping can aid in breaking down fatty tissue under the skin and promoting circulation in the treated area. This can help to contour and tone the body, reducing the appearance of stubborn areas of fat, such as love handles.

Does cupping offer benefits for facial skin?

Absolutely, facial cupping has gained popularity in recent years due to the multiple benefits it offers for the skin. By promoting blood flow to the facial tissues, cupping therapy can help nourish these tissues with oxygen-rich blood, leading to rejuvenation from the inside out.

Research suggests that facial cupping can stimulate collagen production, which is the protein responsible for providing strength and structure to the skin. This increased collagen production can lead to a reduction in the appearance of lines and wrinkles.

Additionally, facial cupping is known to help relieve muscle tension. This can lead to a smoother and more relaxed facial appearance, as well as potentially alleviating symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Does cupping stimulate lymphatic drainage?

Yes, cupping therapy can indeed stimulate lymphatic drainage. The suction applied during cupping can help to facilitate the flow of lymph – the fluid that carries waste products away from the tissues – thus improving overall lymphatic circulation. In effect, cupping can help to unblock and improve the natural drainage process, flushing out waste products such as lactic acid and old blood cells.

By aiding the lymphatic system in clearing these waste materials, cupping therapy can contribute to a healthier immune response and promote healing and recovery.

What kind of toxins are eliminated through cupping?

Research indicates that cupping may stimulate the immune response, which can lead to the removal of toxins both at a local and systemic level. In addition, it may help to purge uric acid, a byproduct from the metabolism of specific foods. Accumulation of uric acid can increase acidity levels in the blood and urine, leading to conditions such as gout.

What happens to the toxins after undergoing cupping therapy?

After a cupping session, it is recommended to wait for at least three hours before bathing or showering. This is because your skin will be sensitive, and the pores open, making you susceptible to potential infections or temperature fluctuations. The toxins drawn to the skin’s surface are then gradually eliminated by the body’s natural detoxification processes.

Does cupping therapy help to release muscular knots?

Cupping is often employed to alleviate pain, break down scar tissue deep within muscles and connective tissues, and to reduce inflammation and muscle knots. As a bonus, cupping is believed to help the body expel circulating toxins by drawing them to the skin’s surface, where they can be eliminated more readily.

Is it possible to experience discomfort following a cupping session?

While cupping therapy is generally safe, some individuals may experience mild side effects such as nausea, perspiration, dizziness, or slight soreness in the areas where the cups were applied. There could also be minimal pain associated. It’s crucial to inform your therapist about any skin conditions like eczema, as cupping could potentially exacerbate these conditions.

Is cupping therapy on the neck considered safe?

Indeed, cupping therapy is generally safe and can be performed on various parts of the body, including the neck. It’s considered an effective treatment that doesn’t necessitate the use of prescription medications or surgery.


The information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only. The content presented on this website should be considered solely as opinions and personal experiences. Read more

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