The formation of scar tissue is the body’s natural response to injury. Learn about the long-term effects of scarring, plus the role massage therapy plays in improving a client’s recovery from a wound.

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Scars develop on the skin’s surface as the result of burns, deep lacerations or a variety of other injuries that penetrate or interrupt the skin’s integrity. Possessing an amazing capacity to heal and regenerate, the skin forms a scab over a wound within three to four days following an injury. By day ten the scab typically shrinks and sloughs off as the body focuses on laying down collagen fibers to strengthen the former site of injury. The damaged tissue can be in recovery between three months to over a year before it returns to full strength. Additionally, some diseases or skin disorders (such as acne) may also result in scar tissue formation. While scars can result from a variety of traumatic events to the skin, they share some common characteristics. As a general rule, the earlier and more consistently scar tissue is exercised, massaged and warmed, the less possibility of developing any long-term concerns.

Scar Traits

While the degree of scar formation varies from person to person, there are some distinguishing characteristics:

  • Becomes hard and non-pliable
  • Bands of fibers on or below the surface
  • Skin tightens or shortens. When crossing a joint, this contracture may limit range of motion, comprise function or cause deformity.
  • Becomes dry and reopens to form a wound if not managed properly. This is especially true for skin grafts, which do not produce oil or sweat.

Long-Term Effects

While the body’s formation of scar tissue is an awesome demonstration of self-preservation, the resulting fibrous mass can set the stage for problems down the road. Composed primarily of collagen, scar tissue’s fibrosity prohibits adequate circulation. In addition to the physical limitations of collagenous tissue, the lack of blood flow and lymph drainage occurring in scar tissue makes it vulnerable to dysfunction. The resulting abnormal stress on a scar’s surrounding structures may include:

  • Nerve impingement
  • Pain
  • Numbness
  • Limited range of motion and flexibility
  • Postural misalignment
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Tissue hypoxia
  • An increase in potential for future injury

In fact, some professionals believe that scar tissue is the root of a majority of physical imbalances. Bodyworkers addressing scar tissue early in its development can help minimize any of the preceding secondary scar tissue problems.

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  • Hello

    Was your scar raised? I want to know if it works with raised scars

    • Mark

      I removed two moles on my face back around October 2014. They scabbed and then sloughed off a few weeks later. The redness was large on both, and left circular scars. I then started putting Vitamin E oil, castor oil, and olive oil on them both. One is in the path of my beard on the left cheek as well, so I had to keep shaving the hair off to keep the skin smooth so I could apply these. This all helped a little bit, but it wasn’t until I started massaging it with the oil about 30 minutes every few days (I’d massage it with one of those three oils and then let it rest for a couple more days until I did it again) that they are both beginning to fade to my natural normal skin color. It’s only been a couple of weeks that I’ve been doing this. I just got out of the shower thinking the water would expose the redness even more, and I barely even notice either of them. They are almost invisible. I’m not sure if it’s any one of these oils or not, but definitely the MASSAGING DOES WORK.

  • France

    hi, thank you for the information. I had 2 c section and then developed endometriosis after second c section. it s a daily challenge to keep those scars from hurting. massage helps but not enough. my body is totally out of balance/ do you think the root of my problem could be second c section and scar tissue. can it cause such an imbalance in a women s body such as hormone imbalance and immune system out of balance??thank you

  • Michelle

    I am a Licensed Massage Therapist. I have a client who had a car accident 3 years ago and the seatbelt tightened around the shoulder part of his scapula. He has deep muscle scar tissue and is very painful. What massage tools can be used to break up area??? Or anything to break up area??? Please help. Thanks!

    • porie

      I was burnt at the age of 3 . I am 70 years old and find that scar tissues are becoming thight , and painfull is ther any massage and cream that can sofen the scar tissues.

  • Irishrosejw

    3 weeks ago I had a fall to ceramic tile and (among other injuries), I had a laceration in my upper lip which was stitched with 4 sutures in the ER. The outside looks fine, but in my lip, it feels like a very large pea. I have been applying heat and massaging since the stitches dissolved, but the area is still hard with no change in size. Can heat and massage eventually help? It is sore, but I’m willing to do it as often as necessary if it will help. The “lump” affects my speech a little, and makes it hard to drink. I’ve also been using the back of the head of my electric toothbrush to the area 5 or 6 times a day as I thought the vibrations might help to break up scar tissue too. Any thoughts, suggestions? Thanks so much.

  • priya

    hey i fell on my left cheek a year ago. There was development of a hematoma and that went away a few weeks later. The external injuries all faded away and you cant tell that i was ever injured there. However i can feel a coin size mass? or scar tissue where i was injured. How do i get rid of this or will it stay forever? please advice as i am very conscious of it!!

  • SWFL18

    scar massage is BS. just a timeline to the next procedure. I bought the expensive cream and tried it AM and PM messaging scar for at least 10 minutes twice a day. total BS, convinced its bogus, yep I bought bioCorneum and scarguard (toxic fumes) Hate when theses people try and make money on innocent patients. Both junk just to get you on to next medical procedure. Use vitamin E capsules, it works the same and saves you so much money. Dermatologists make huge bucks on these crappy……

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