Performing surgery while minimizing or hiding the scar is a central theme of Plastic Surgery. Caring for a scar correctly after surgery can make a significant impact on the scar’s final appearance, and scar massage is often included in this care. Healing incisions produce collagen for the first 4-6 weeks, after which the collagen starts remodeling and organizing. This is why scars initially raise and thicken, then flatten out over time. Massaging the scar can help this process along.
Scar massage involves applying pressure to the scar, similar to a soft tissue massage. Several studies have shown that massaging scars can decrease pain and itching, help dark or red scars fade in color, and flatten raised scars. Scar massage can be started as soon as the incision is healed, but will also improve older scars. You can do scar massage yourself at home, or you can see a physical therapist or massage therapist for treatments. If this is something you would like to try yourself wait until the incision is fully healed: usually 2-3 weeks. Then firmly rub the scar in a circular motion. You should use enough pressure so that it is a little uncomfortable, but not actually painful. Applying lotion will help prevent friction during the massage. I recommend trying to massage a scar at least 5 minutes, 5 times per day, although it may take longer for a very large scar.