Ugly Scars are only for Halloween
Few of us have lived past the age of twelve without an owie or two causing a scar. My most notable childhood scar is on my left knee. The tragedy happened at age ten when I was cruising on my bicycle. I was trying to outrun a bumble bee while crossing rail road tracks with a bit of gravel coverage. It was the perfect storm causing me to wipe out! Surprisingly, no tears! The scar is a daily reminder of the catastrophe though. It’s common in childhood but far more embarrasing as an adult! Yes, a massage therapist with a broken wrist, is not a bodyworker career builder. I blame the shoes! Surgery, physical therapy, four months of recovery and yes, another scar. It was 2010 so nearly ten years ago so I’m fully recovered (bionic even!)
Could the appearance of scarring been mitigated had I had massaged the site of surgery two weeks after the operation? Could numbness of the effective area been avoided? These are questions I ask and something everyone should consider after an injury or surgery.
According to the research, the appearance and effects of scarring can be minimized if massage is performed at the site of injury two weeks after a surgery. Unfortunately, studies have indicated that if massage is performed after two years of scar formation, little affect will be realized.
Scars form as part of the body’s natural healing process but if scars do not heal properly, it can lead to reduced mobility and even shrinkage of certain body parts (my ex’s punishment)! The first stage of scar formation is Inflammation which can last up to two weeks. You can expect the injured area to be red, swollen and tender in this first stage. Stage two is the Proliferation stage when the body starts to layer scar tissue around the wound to protect it. You should notice that the scar is now red, rigid and raised. It is at stage two that massage is indicated so that the tissue heals properly. Massage should be performaed two-three times a day at ten minute intervals. All sutures should be removed and any scabs should have naturally fallen off prior to massaging. Pressure should begin light with gradually more pressure as tolerable.
The techniques can be used through six months of recovery unless you notice that there is bleeding, warmth of the scar as opposed to the surrounding tissue, redness or unusual pain. Stop massaging and contact your doctor if you experience these symptoms. Our skin is the largest organ on our body that helps to regulate temperature and acts as a barrier to microorganisms that can cause infections. That’s why making sure your wound is at least two weeks old is important prior to starting the massage practice. Always, consult with your physician for best practices.
Correctly performing the massage techniques for scarring can aid in softening and flattening the scar. The pressure of massage promotes collagen remodeling, reduces the itching that often accompanies healing and aids in injury site flexibility because of improved blood flow by oxygenating the area. Massage can reduce build up of excess scar tissue that can cause stiff and weak muscles. Excess fluids causing inflammation can be drained through your lymphatic system to redue swelling by using Manual Lyphatic Drainage (MLD) massage techniques.
Other techniques such as cross-fiber friction and myofascial release can be performed by your certified massage therapist.
Although everyone’s healing process can vary, you can expect full wound healing in 12-18 months. If scar-related issues are realized after that time, you may need surgery to remove excess scar tissue and the cycle may begin again.
Love exposing yourself to the healing benefits of essential oils? Frankensence has been known for its anti-inflamatory properties and has been used to improve the appearance of scars. Always choose a therapeutic-grade essential oil when experimenting. Ask me how to obtain the best on the market!