Any type of surgical incision will result in the formation of a scar. It is a natural part of the healing process which includes inflammation, proliferation, and remodeling of tissue. In general, the larger the incision, the greater the amount of scarring you can expect to occur. Did you know simple massage performed after the incisions have sufficiently healed can help reduce the size and appearance of your scars?
To be effective, scar tissue massage must be performed after preliminary healing of the skin tissue. This is usually 10 days to 2 weeks after the surgery.
Apply a moisturizing lotion and use the tips of your fingers or thumb to massage your scars using horizontal, vertical, and circular motions in the clockwise and anti-clockwise direction. Start with gentle pressure and slowly increase pressure as tolerated. About 10 minutes of massage performed 2-3 times a day over a period of 3 to 6 months should be enough.
The benefits of massaging scar tissue after surgery include:
- Prevents the buildup of excess scar tissue which can cause muscle stiffness and weakness.
- Drains excess fluid to reduce swelling
- Improves blood flow to the area promoting tissue remodeling
- Reduces itching at the surgical wound site
- Increases scar pliability
- Helps regain sensation in the area
- Flattens the scars reducing their visibility
During the first year after surgery, try to keep your scar out of the sun to prevent possible hyper-pigmentation. Performing scar tissue massage greater than 2 years after surgery may not provide much benefit but also will not result in any harm.
If you are unsure how to perform scar tissue massage, you could ask your doctor or a physical therapist to do it for you initially and follow the same technique to safely do it yourself at home.
Dr. Patrick Denard has been voted one of the top 20 Shoulder Surgeons in North America and is the most widely published shoulder specialist in Oregon. Dr. Denard is committed to providing the highest level of Orthopedic care to his patients. Dr. Denard has advanced arthroscopy training and is able to perform the vast majority of shoulder procedures in a minimally invasive fashion, including all types of rotator cuff repairs and instability repair. These techniques allow him to repair tears that some consider “irreparable.” Providing every patient with advanced medicine and compassionate care each and every time.