Wound care after surgery is an important part of the healing process – and so is knowing what signs to look for that warrant a call to your doctor. Many people don’t know that caring for your incision doesn’t stop right after it is healed! Performing scar tissue massage comes with a wealth of benefits and it’s simple to do on your own. In this blog, we share the basics of acute wound care instructions and how to perform your own scar tissue massage.
Acute wound care instructions
After surgery, your doctor will provide you with more specific instructions regarding how to care for your wound in its early stages. In general, it’s best to wear loose-fitting clothing, avoid aggravating the incision site, and keep the area clean by following the instructions on how to change your dressing as appropriate.
Call your doctor right away if you notice:
- Increased drainage or bleeding from the wound that won’t stop with direct pressure
- Excessive redness and/or warmth around the wound
- Foul odor or pus
- Increased swelling around the wound (or pain and swelling of your calf)
- Fever above 101.0°F or shaking chills
Should I massage my scar once the incision heals?
The short answer, yes! Here’s how scar tissue massage helps:
- Reduces the impact of scar tissue and will aid your recovery and function (excess scar tissue can make muscles stiff and weaker)
- Increases joint range of movement and the scar’s flexibility (this makes movements feel less restrictive and “tight”)
- Helps regain feeling in the area and decreases numbness, tingling, and soreness
- Helps improve blood flow, which promotes healing
- Drains excess fluid to reduce swelling
- May help with the appearance of your scar.
How to perform a scar tissue massage
To perform a scar tissue massage, you must wait for the incision to be completely healed. Once healed, follow these PT-approved steps:
- Apply a non-perfumed Vitamin E lotion or oil to your scar area. Vitamin E is proven to help build collagen and massaging with lotion lubricates the skin, cutting down friction.
- Using the pad of your thumb or finger, firmly massage in a circular motion. You should be pressing hard enough that your fingernail turns from pink to white, but it should not be painful. First, go up the scar clockwise, and work your way up and around your scar slowly while maintaining firm pressure. Switch it up by massaging counterclockwise. This will help to drain excess fluid from the area.
- Next, stretch the skin apart around your scar, and repeat the massaging with a firm circular motion using your thumb or finger.
- With pressure, slowly slide your finger up the scar. Change direction by slowly sliding back down.
- Repeat the process several times for 5 minutes or so.
- You may massage your scar for 10-15 minutes a day (our PTs recommend 2-3 times a day for 5 mins).