How Massage Can Help Reduce the Appearance of Scars


Treating the lingering effects of body injuries has advanced substantially— no longer do you need to dread the permanence of a scar.

One of the easiest methods for reducing the appearance of a scar is through massage. In order for an injury to repair itself, people develop scars. Sometimes scars overdevelop outside the boundaries of the wound, and this is when it becomes problematic. Scar massage is just one way of managing a scar.

If you have developed scar tissue after an injury or surgery, a physical or occupational therapist can give you advice on how to massage the injured tissue, which can help with the remodeling process.

“Gentle scar massage, in combination with a silicone gel sheet, is one of the most effective ways to reduce a scar’s appearance,” said Linda Shepard, an occupational therapist and certified hand therapist at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center. “Scar massage is normally done with a Vitamin E lotion and, for it to be effective, you have to do it quite frequently.”

Check with your physical or occupational therapist to ensure the injury is properly healed before you begin the scar massage technique, as applying pressure to a not fully healed wound can cause damage to the developing skin and tissue. In a worst-case scenario, massaging an unhealed scar may cause it to open, leading to a possible infection.

It’s worth noting that a scar can take up to a year to finish remodeling and there can be substantial change during this time. The early phase, however, is the most important time to be consistent with massage.

Try to massage your scar two to three times a day. You may notice your scar turns white, a process called blanching, and this is completely normal. Also, it may look redder afterward. This too is normal. 

In addition to that, Shepard recommends using a silicone gel sheet over the scar at night.

There are also devices to assist with the massage to reach a deeper level of scar tissue. It is best to check with the occupational or physical therapist to advise you on the best way to treat your scar.

“In combination with silicone gel sheets, massage can reduce the appearance of an injury, especially by making the scar flatter and more flexible on the skin,” Shepard said.

For more information on scar massage, speak with your health care provider.

*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

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