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. 2016, Ault et al. 2018, 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. 2016, Waters-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
Susan Chapelle - Understanding and Approach to Treatment of Scars and Adhesion.
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.
Anthonissen, M., Daly, D., Janssens, T., & Kerckhove, E. V. (2016). The effects of conservative treatments on burn scars: A systematic review. Burns.
Ault, P., Plaza, A., Paratz, J. (2018). Scar massage for hypertrophic burns scarring-A systematic review. Burns.
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.
Berrueta, L., Muskaj, I., Olenich, S., . . . Langevin, H. M. (2016). Stretching Impacts Inflammation Resolution in Connective Tissue. Journal of Cellular Physiology.
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)
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.
Chen, L., Michalsen, A. (2017). Management of chronic pain using complementary and integrative medicine. BMJ.
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.
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.
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.
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)
Guo, S., Dipietro, L.A. (2010). Factors affecting wound healing. J Dent Res.
Khansa, I., Harrison, B., & Janis, J. E. (2016). Evidence-Based Scar Management. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.
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.
Ogawa, R. (2017). Keloid and Hypertrophic Scars Are the Result of Chronic Inflammation in the Reticular Dermis. Int J Mol Sci. (OPEN ACCESS)
Shin, T. M., & Bordeaux, J. S. (2012). The Role of Massage in Scar Management: A Literature Review. Dermatologic Surgery.
Tan, J., Wu, J. (2017). Current progress in understanding the molecular pathogenesis of burn scar contracture. Burns Trauma. (OPEN ACCESS)
van der Veer, W.M., Bloemen, M.C., ... Niessen, F.B. (2009). Potential cellular and molecular causes of hypertrophic scar formation. Burns.
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)
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.
Yelvington, M., Scoggins, M., White, L. (2017). A Child With a Burn-Related Foot and Ankle Contracture Treated With Multiple Modalities. Pediatr Phys Ther.