Manual treatment of scar tissue and post-surgical sites
The role of collagen
Collagen is a natural substance produced by the body and present in all its parts; from skin and bone to muscles, tendons and ligaments. Embryologically collagen is laid according to the specific tissue function, which results in different tissues having different compositions. Generally, collagen is very strong allowing it to resist intense tensile forces in order to protect tissues from tearing.
When they do tear though what happens to collagen? After a cut occurs on any type of superficial tissue, whether this is of traumatic onset (an injury) or intended and planned (surgery), the affected tissue needs to heal and this is when scarring also happens.
Unfortunately at times the body’s healing mechanisms aren’t as effective as they could be and as we all know repairing something that is damaged doesn’t necessarily succeed result in its original splendour. Collagen can clump and arrange itself in an uneven and irregular layout, forming adhesions whose severity can widely range from minimal subcutaneous retractions to quite vast and deep conglomerates of hardened tissue called keloids.
How physiotherapy and osteopathy can help
Physiotherapy and osteopathy can help you if you are experiencing troubles with scarring.
Manual gentle stretches and localised soft, deep and fascial tissue work as well as the use of taping help remodel the scar tissue by promoting the correct alignment of the collagen fibres and the vascular and lymphatic supply to the area. Hence tissues that were once oedematous and somewhat fibrotic can return to be better draining flexible tissues.
Conditions producing scarring that benefit from manual treatment
Any condition producing scarring can benefit from manual treatment. Amongst the most common ones we find:
– post-lumpectomy or mastectomy breast tissue
– post abdominal surgery scarring
– post joint replacement surgery
– post keyhole rotator cuff surgery (generally producing minimal scarring)
The rate of success of remodelling scar tissue after surgery or an injury increases the sooner it starts. The wound needs to be completely closed for manual work on the scar to begin. Depending on the body part and the size of the scar, remodelling can take from only a few weeks to several months and occasionally years. Unfortunately very large scars, such as deep abdominal ones can never be completely remodelled but manual treatment can still provide a better aesthetic and functional outcome.
The goals of manual treatment of scar tissue are:
– improving the flexibility of the scar by allowing collagen to lay down its fibres in an organised way
– prevent range of motion restrictions in joints caused by the scar tissue adhering to the underlying tissues
– restoring health to the affected area by enhancing the blood and lymph supply
– minimising the visual and aesthetic effects of the scar by thinning it and allowing for a less prominent profile
Our physiotherapists and osteopaths can provide you with an accurate assessment of your scar and agree with you the appropriate treatment plan based on achievable and realistic outcomes.
Call our reception team to enquire about our practitioners who treat post-mastectomy or lumpectomy breast tissue and any further information about treatment options for scarring.