Scar Massage and Hydration: Reduce Scars after Injury or Surgery

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When your skin is injured – be it due to trauma or surgery – there is always the inevitable scar to worry about. Scars mark your appearance, and may cause ongoing psycho-social pain. Many people feel uncomfortable about their scars, believing that others will not consider them aesthetically pleasing or ask questions about their scars.

This needn’t be the case, though. Medical professionals, nurses and dermal clinicians have come up with a number of techniques that take advantage of the natural wound healing mechanisms so that the dreaded scar can be as unobtrusive as possible. The majority of these techniques rely mainly on simple principles of hydration and scar massage. Let’s take a look at what is being done to ensure that your bandage comes off with everything underneath looking proper.

Does hydration affect the wound healing process?

Many people are under the assumption that the presence of moisture in the confines of the wound dressing is bad for the healing process. Except in the cases that the wound is not cared for and bacteria harvests, they couldn’t be further from the truth. This is because, unlike a completely dry environment, the moist environment prevents cell death through dehydration of the tissue.

The hydrated environment also facilitates the increased breakdown of dead tissue to ensure that the wound heals faster. Concurrently, the moisture prevents the excessive build-up of fibrin – the material that is deposited at the injured area to seal it off.

Studies have been conducted to show that dry dressing takes longer than wet dressing to get wounds to re-epithilialise and contract (to heal over). The wet dressing fostered an environment that allowed more layers of new skin to be formed over the wound faster than the dry dressing did.

Heard of scarless wound healing? Yup! That too, exists.

Quite a few individuals are aware that there are some wounds that heal and leave no mark behind. It’s like the injury or surgery never happened. This is not as mysterious as it sounds; there is no otherworldly force at play. 

Scientists have conducted plenty of research into scarless wound healing. This is of especial importance in the field of plastic surgery where it is crucial to leave no mark behind after the client has gone under the knife.

Studies have shown that hyaluronic acid, which is present in large quantities in the foetal environment, is responsible for the absence of scars. This is because it reduces the amounts of Transforming Growth Factor beta 1. This TGF β-1 is prevalent in the early part of scar formation and, just like the name suggests, is responsible for the way in which the scar will aesthetically present itself.

Though the exact mechanism by which hyaluronic acid fosters scarless wound healing is unclear, many studies have postulated that it has a significant role in the way collagen fibres are laid down during healing. It might also significantly influence epithelial migration.

How does scar massage figure into the healing process?

We often associate massage with spas and relaxation. In this case, though, the massage is utilised to ensure that there is optimal healing of a wound so that a softer and more aesthetically pleasing scar can be achieved. Scientifically, there is no concrete evidence supporting the effectiveness of this technique.

However, through experience, there have been some results that give the method plenty of hope. It is no wonder, therefore, that a number of techniques – manual or mechanised – are used to massage the affected area, all varying depending on the kind of injury and the objective.

Some of the manual massage techniques include:

  • Stretching positions
  • Pulpar separation
  • Crushing exercises
  •  Lymphatic manual drainage which can be simple (self-administered) or manually administered by the caretaker
  • Massage with scar therapy creams or oils

Mechanised massage techniques involve:

  • Compressed air also known as intermittent pneumatic compression, that uses air under pressure to massage
  • Thread-like showers which are good reducing pain and itching as well as softening the skin and reducing inflammation
  • Vacuotherapy employs the use of a vacuum to aspirate the affected area, improving the healing process
  • Self-administered mechanical massage uses scar therapy tools

Sometimes as the scar forms, there is often a feeling of hypersensitivity that sometimes emanates out to the surrounding area. The itchy or sore feeling is controlled by the different types of massage. The manual massage techniques in particular are a good way to deal with sensitivity.

Gone are the days when every incision into your skin meant having to move around with scars as reminders of the ordeal that you went through. These methods are available so that you can optimise your healing after surgery for the best quality scars possible.

Our experienced clinicians can teach you how to perform scar therapy, in Melbourne, on yourself following surgery and guide you to a range of products that will be suitable for your concern.

To find out more about the conditions that can be treated by an experienced Dermal Clinician Click Here for a link to the Australian Society of Dermal Clinicians.

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Marnina Diprose holds a Bachelor Health Science in Dermal Therapies, and a Vocational Certificate of Laser and Light. Marnina has a strong passion in scar revision and holistic approaches to patient care. For media inquiries or if you have an interest in blog contribution please email info@arozedermaltherapies.com.au


References

Scar massage. (2018). [image] Available at: http://gtandrmassage.com/services/scar-massage/ [Accessed 14 Mar. 2018].

Shin, T. M., & Bordeaux, J. S. (2012). The role of massage in scar management: a literature review. Dermatologic Surgery, 38(3), 414-423.

Cheatham, S. W., Lee, M., Cain, M., & Baker, R. (2016). The efficacy of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization: a systematic review. The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, 60(3), 200–211.

Field, C. K., & Kerstein, M. D. (1994). Overview of wound healing in a moist environment. The American journal of surgery, 167(1), S2-S6.

Svensjö, T., Pomahac, B., Yao, F., Slama, J., & Eriksson, E. (2000). Accelerated healing of full-thickness skin wounds in a wet environment. Plastic and reconstructive surgery, 106(3), 602-612.

Hu, M., Sabelman, E. E., Cao, Y., Chang, J., & Hentz, V. R. (2003). Three‐dimensional hyaluronic acid grafts promote healing and reduce scar formation in skin incision wounds. Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials, 67(1), 586-592.

Adzick, N. S., & Longaker, M. T. (1992). Scarless fetal healing. Therapeutic implications. Annals of surgery, 215(1), 3.

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