Massage Therapy for Scars

massage therapy for scars

Scar Management

Massage therapy is simple to carry out, economical, and has very few side effects, so it is worth investigating the effects of massage therapy on post-surgical scarring. Research is still in its infancy but there is evidence to suggest that in addition to managing pain massage therapy may optimize post-surgical function and healing (Anthonissen et al. 2016Ault et al. 2017, Cho et al. 2014).

Tips for Scar Management - As little as 10 minutes of massage per day may go a long way in decreasing the thickness of scar. It may also shorten the time required for formation of a mature scar tissue.

The mechanisms by which massage therapy interrupt the sequelae of pathological healing is most likely not in a single unified response,but as a collection of interconnected adaptive responses within the neuroimmune system and soft tissue structures (Bove et al. 2016Waters-Banker, et al. 2014).


More to Explore

As a massage therapist who works with post-surgical patients, this is a topic I am interested in so I will follow closely and keep readers updated as more research comes to light. Here are my current go to resources for post-operative protocols:
Traumatic scar tissue management: Massage therapy principles, practice and protocols

Clinical Orthopaedic Rehabilitation: a Team Approach

Susan Chapelle - Understanding and Approach to Treatment of Scars and Adhesion.

Research Links

Alvira-Lechuz, J., Espiau, M. R., & Alvira-Lechuz, E. (2017). Treatment Of The Scar After Arthroscopic Surgery On A Knee: A Case Study. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1360859216301267

Anthonissen, M., Daly, D., Janssens, T., & Kerckhove, E. V. (2016). The effects of conservative treatments on burn scars: A systematic review. Burns.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26777448

Ault, P., Plaza, A., Paratz, J. (2017). Scar massage for hypertrophic burns scarring-A systematic review. Burns.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28669442

Bijlard, E., Uiterwaal, L., ... Huygen, F.J. (2017). A Systematic Review on the Prevalence, Etiology, and Pathophysiology of Intrinsic Pain in Dermal Scar Tissue. Pain Physician.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28158149

Berrueta, L., Muskaj, I., Olenich, S., Butler, T., Badger, G. J., Colas, R. A., . . . Langevin, H. M. (2016). Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue. Journal of Cellular Physiology.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28158149

Bove, G.M., Chapelle, S.L., Hanlon, K.E., Diamond, M.P., Mokler, D.J. (2017). Attenuation of postoperative adhesions using a modeled manual therapy. PLoS One. (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28574997/ 

Bove, G., Harris, M., Zhao, H., & Barbe, M. (2016). Manual therapy as an effective treatment for fibrosis in a rat model of upper extremity overuse injury. Journal of the Neurological Sciences.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26810536

Chen, L., Michalsen, A. (2017). Management of chronic pain using complementary and integrative medicine. BMJ.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28438745

Cho, Y.S., Jeon, J.H., Hong, A., Yang, H.T., ... Seo, C.H. (2014). The effect of burn rehabilitation massage therapy on hypertrophic scar after burn: a randomized controlled trial. Burns.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24630820

Chamorro Comesaña, A., Suárez Vicente, M.D., ... Pilat, A. (2017). Effect of myofascial induction therapy on post-c-section scars, more than one and a half years old. Pilot study. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28167179

Cholok, D., Lee, E., Lisiecki, J., Agarwal, S., Loder, S., Ranganathan, K., Qureshi, A.T., Davis, T.A., Levi, B. (2017). Traumatic muscle fibrosis: From pathway to prevention. J Trauma Acute Care Surg.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27787441

Finnerty, C.C., Jeschke, M.G., Branski, L.K., ... Herndon, D.N. (2016). Hypertrophic scarring: the greatest unmet challenge after burn injury. Lancet. (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27707499

Guo, S., Dipietro, L.A. (2010). Factors affecting wound healing. J Dent Res.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20139336

Khansa, I., Harrison, B., & Janis, J. E. (2016). Evidence-Based Scar Management. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27556757

Najafi Ghezeljeh, T., Mohades Ardebili, F., Rafii, F. (2017). The effects of massage and music on pain, anxiety and relaxation in burn patients: Randomized controlled clinical trial. Burns.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28169080

Ogawa, R. (2017). Keloid and Hypertrophic Scars Are the Result of Chronic Inflammation  in the Reticular Dermis. Int J Mol Sci. (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28287424

Shin, T. M., & Bordeaux, J. S. (2012). The Role of Massage in Scar Management: A Literature Review. Dermatologic Surgery.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22093081

Tan, J., Wu, J. (2017). Current progress in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of burn scar contracture. Burns Trauma. (OPEN ACCESS)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28546987

van der Veer, W.M., Bloemen, M.C., ... Niessen, F.B. (2009). Potential cellular and molecular causes of hypertrophic scar formation. Burns.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18952381

Waters-Banker, C., Dupont-Versteegden, E. E., Kitzman, P. H., & Butterfield, T. A. (2014). Investigating the Mechanisms of Massage Efficacy: The Role of Mechanical Immunomodulation.Journal of Athletic Training. (Open Access)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24641083

Wong, Y., Smith, R., & Koppenhaver, S. (2015). Soft Tissue Mobilization to Resolve Chronic Pain and Dysfunction Associated With Post-Operative Abdominal and Pelvic Adhesions: A Case Report. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26471853

Yelvington, M., Scoggins, M., White, L. (2017). A Child With a Burn-Related Foot and Ankle Contracture Treated With Multiple Modalities. Pediatr Phys Ther.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27984480