It has been claimed by many that Massage Therapy can be an effective method of Scar Treatment. While researching this I certainly found plenty of reference to this technique. I was however unable to find any articles on the topic published in trade or medical journals. That is not to say the method has no merit. In fact I did find several personal accounts claiming the method to be successful. Is it truly effective? I honestly can’t say. I will instead focus on simply describing the treatment and it’s claimed benefits and let the reader form their own opinion.
Purpose/ Theory: The basic theory of scar treatment via massage is that it remodels collagen and realigns scar tissue. To help you understand how this works, think of scar tissue as spaghetti noodles. When you place the noodles in a pot, they don’t lay flat. Instead they stick straight up in a criss-cross fashion. When a scar forms, the tissues will often act similarly, creating a scar that is raised above the rest of the skin (keloid and hypertrophic scars). When spaghetti noodles are in their package they lay down flat and neat. Theoretically, massage therapy can help the scar tissues to lay down neat and flat like spaghetti noodles in a package.
Benefits of Scar Massage: Aside from the realignment of scar tissue as described above, other claimed benefits of scar massage are:
1. Softer, more pliable scars
2. Reduced pain
3. Reduced itching
4. Reduced redness
5. Reduced tightness
6. Increased circulation and neurological function
7. Improved appearance
8. Improved motion (for scars that are causing tightness of joints)
Massaging a Scar: It is generally recommended to massage 2-3 times per day for roughly 10 minutes per session. Starting too early could lead to further damage. Massage should only be started after the wound has completely closed. When the wound is the result of a medical procedure seek the advice of the physician prior to beginning massage. Massage should be done with care. If the scar begins to get redder, more painful or otherwise uncomfortable, it is probably a good idea to stop. The most common method I found while researching this is to use the pads of the fingers to make gentle circular motions over the scar. Over time, as the scar becomes less sensitive the pressure can be increased.
Many suggest the use of a non scented lotion, oil or cream for scar massage. I would add that a good alternative might be a silicone scar gel such as Scarfade. There has been much published research that suggests these types of products are effective in the reduction of scars. If scar massage really is effective, coupling it with the use of a scar removal gel seems to be very good idea.