Getting a massage for scar tissue can improve the look and feel of your skin, especially following surgery.
How Scars Form
Whenever there has been an injury to your skin, specialized cells called fibroplasts travel to the affected area. These cells accumulate and begin to “knit” together in an unorganized network of strands that close the injury.
Recent studies have shown that these fibroplasts are formed within the fascia, a thin layer of connective tissue that lies between your skin and muscles.
Scars Equal Survival
An injury that is serious enough to cause a scar to form is one that could that became dangerously infected, or in some cases cause death due to blood loss. Thankfully, we mammals are able to form scar tissue to block germs and prevent bleeding to death.
Types of Scars
- Similar in color to unblemished skin.
- May be slightly raised initially, but over time will flatten.
- Usually redder than surrounding skin.
- Remain raised or “lumpy.”
- Do not extend beyond the boundary of the injury.
- Generally deeper and may affect nerve and muscle tissue.
- Feels “tight” and may restrict movement near the injury.
- Common following burns.
- Occasionally require surgery to restore movement to the area, especially near joints.
- Often red or purple.
- Extend beyond the boundary of the injury.
- Can continue growing over time.
- Most common in people of African or Asian descent.
How Massage for Scar Tissue Can Help
Think of the formation as the same process as creating a paper maché sculpture. If you lay the paper strips in a haphazard way and allow it to dry, the resulting piece will be lumpy and bumpy. However, if while the paper is still wet, you slide the strips around to lie in an organized, parallel pattern, your sculpture will be nice and smooth.
An experience massage therapist can identify the many stages of scar development and help realign the fibers, resulting in a less noticeable scar.
I can employ the use of cross-fiber friction with my fingertips or with specialized tools to break up areas of adhesion. Once the fibers are no longer tethered to the skin in the wrong direction, I can encourage the growth of the scar in the same direction as the underlying fascia. This reduces the bumpiness and visibility of the scar.
Scarring After Surgery
Most surgeries only require small incisions that are usually made in the same direction of the underlying tissue to help encourage healthy and normal scar formation. There are some surgeries, however, that frequently cause uneven scarring.
Liposuction is a good example of a type of surgery that can cause disorganized scarring. Without a massage therapist’s intervention, your belly and flanks can end up looking uneven. Not exactly the result you were going for when you shelled out all that money for a cosmetic procedure!
A significant part of my post-surgical massage treatment plan includes scar tissue work. I have worked with many clients to improve the look and feel of their surgical sites and can happily provide references from clients.