picture of scar tissue on a man's shoulder needing massage therapy

Massage Therapy for Scar Tissue

How Can Massage Therapy Help Scar Tissue?

Frictioning is a common massage technique used to remove adhesions that occur as a result of an injury, surgery or repetitive motion.  A serious injury with too much rest leads to scar tissue formation. Frictions are a very aggressive technique that can be super effective in breaking down scar tissue.  Frictioning needs to be properly handled with heat, stretching and a lot of follow-up techniques which help to relax the tissue afterwards.

What are the Benefits of Massage Therapy for Scar Tissue?

Removal of scar tissue can lead to an improved range of motion, and alleviate chronic pain where the scar tissue was once present.  Also, because massage therapy is an effective way to speed healing, it can help your body resolve scar tissue. Also, getting better circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid into this tissue can help it heal.

What Does the Research Say About Massage Therapy for Scars?

  • It appears that there is preliminary evidence to suggest that scar massage may be effective to decrease scar height, vascularity, pliability, pain, pruritus and depression in hypertrophic burns scarring.
  • Our results suggest that burn rehabilitation massage therapy is effective in improving pain, pruritus (itching), and scar characteristics in hypertrophic scars after a burn.
  • Of 30 surgical scars treated with massage, 27 (90%) had improved appearance or Patient Observer Scar Assessment Scale score.

Research on Massage Therapy and Scarring

Burns. 2018 Feb;44(1):24-38. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2017.05.006. Epub 2017 Jun 29.
Scar massage for hypertrophic burns scarring-A systematic review.
Ault P1, Plaza A2, Paratz J3.

Burns. 2014 Dec;40(8):1513-20. doi: 10.1016/j.burns.2014.02.005. Epub 2014 Mar 12.
The effect of burn rehabilitation massage therapy on hypertrophic scar after burn: a randomized controlled trial.
Cho YS1, Jeon JH1, Hong A2, Yang HT3, Yim H3, Cho YS3, Kim DH3, Hur J3, Kim JH3, Chun W4, Lee BC5, Seo CH6.

Dermatol Surg. 2012 Mar;38(3):414-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1524-4725.2011.02201.x. Epub 2011 Nov 7.
The role of massage in scar management: a literature review.
Shin TM1, Bordeaux JS.