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    A concern for many patients after learning they need major surgery is around what scarring will look like. Massage therapy can help remodel scar tissue post-surgery to reduce the visibility and appearance of surgical scars. Tyne Gray, Licensed Massage Practitioner at Pullman Regional’s Summit Therapy & Health Services, explains what massage therapy entails and how it can benefit post-surgical patients.


    How can massage therapy help prevent scar tissue from forming post-surgery?


    After surgery, as part of the natural healing process, your body will produce a protein called collagen to heal and strengthen the damaged tissue. This process can continue for several months, causing the scar to grow and become lumpy. 


    “Scarring below the skin can also adhere to underlying structures, like muscles, and cause a decrease in flexibility and mobility at that site,” says Gray. “Massage therapy is a great way to remodel scar tissue and ensure that your tissue regains normal range of motion, strength and mobility.”


    Massage promotes blood flow through the soft tissue and brings nutrients to the area to help with healing. Regular massage to the area will also help to prevent the buildup of excess scar tissue and flatten the scar, thus reducing visibility. Additional benefits include draining excess fluid to reduce swelling, lessen itch at the surgical site, reduce adhesions and increase scar pliability to help regain sensation in the area.  


    How soon after surgery can a person receive massage therapy?


    Patients can usually start gentle scar tissue massage 2-3 weeks after surgery once the skin has fully healed. “It’s best to wait until your surgeon or doctor has cleared you to receive scar tissue massage, but starting sooner is better than delaying until the scar is fully formed,” says Gray.


    Typically how long does a patient go to massage therapy post-surgery?


    Scar tissue formation can continue for months and massage will need to be done with a high level of consistency. Your massage therapist will use a variety of techniques to break up the scar tissue, as well as educate you on how to self-massage and inform you of signs or symptoms that would indicate stopping treatment and returning to your provider. 


    “Once you’ve learned the proper techniques for your scar site, it is recommended that you massage the area at home 2-3 times a day for 5-10 minutes, slowly adding pressure as you can tolerate,” advises Gray.  


    Early and regular massage therapy appointments for scar tissue after surgery are an effective way to remodel the damaged tissue to decrease pain, increase range of motion, relieve restriction, reduce visibility and encourage healing.


    If you’re scheduled for an upcoming surgery or had a recent procedure, talk to your doctor or surgeon about a referral to Summit Therapy & Health Services for massage therapy. With a referral from your doctor, PA or nurse practitioner, massage therapy can be billed to your insurance. 


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