How Do You Soften Scar Tissue?

How Do You Soften Scar Tissue?

Scarring has many causes from accidents to acne, surgery, illnesses such as chicken pox, and countless other reasons. Scars can be very embarrassing and can have a negative effect on your self-perception, especially if it is especially rigid or firm and difficult to hide.

The development of scarring or internal scar tissue is how the body naturally reacts to surgical incision, liposuction, plastic surgery, or injury. The extent of the internal or external scar tissue can vary depending on a number of factors.

The Scar Hardening Process

Over time, both external and internal scars could become very hard or un-pliable. When scars become stiff, they can even be quite painful. Scars can become fibrous with bands that extend on a subcutaneous level or they could be superficial on the skin’s exterior. Scars can discolor and make ripples in the skin and in some instances, scarring over a joint area could cause restricted range of motion.

The long-term effects of scar tissue can vary depending on the actual location and the level of severity. Scar tissue is primarily made up of dense fibers of collagen. The composition could restrict lymphatic and blood circulation. This will cause surrounding structures and tissues to be put under stress. This type of stress could lead to:

  • Pinched nerves
  • Numbing sensations and pain
  • Range of motion and flexibility restrictions
  • Atrophy in certain muscles

Through the use of massage, one can manipulate the scar tissue as it develops and it can greatly minimize issues surrounding the development of scars.

Softening Scar Tissue

Massage is a good way to reduce the buildup of scar tissue. Working along and against the grain of the muscle fibers should loosen and break up scar tissue. This will cause the adhesions to loosen up, as well. This should relax tightening and increase flexibility and ability for movement.

More than likely, the scar tissue will begin to form again. Staying consistent with massaging daily for about 2 minutes can help the tissue lay down and become more linear than when the scar originally formed. This is something that can be easily done when you are applying your scar treatment.

Massage therapy is considered to be the best manual manipulation of soft tissue to provide increased circulation. Depending on the severity of the scars, massage might be painful to endure, especially if it the first attempt at scar tissue is being broken up. The pain will decrease over time as more massage is completed.

When scar tissue loosens up, those tissues normally get reabsorbed by the body. To promote the tissue to lie down properly, massage should be performed along the muscle fiber. This will help the adhesion fibers parallel to muscle fibers to lie down properly, making your scar become flush with the surrounding skin.

It could take a couple of months to achieve your goal depending on the consistency of the massage. Using it more than once a week will help to ensure a reduction in pain. In some cases, magnetic therapies used in conjunction with massage can also help to soften the scar tissue at a faster pace.

Have you tried massaging your scar? 

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The information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please speak to your doctor to treat any medical condition. Information on this site is not intended to be patient education, does not create any patient-physician relationship, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.

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Comments

  1. Hi, must a stitched area be cleaned? My doctor indicated i should not clean/ wet the area at all. Please advise as i’m scared it may leave a bigger scar mark.

    • Hi Mo, it’s best to do as your doctor advises based on your wound. Once your doctor indicates that the area can be cleaned, begin using InviCible Scars to minimize the final appearance of your scar.

  2. Okay i created myself a scar problem back in the day when i used to pick my acne. So that resulted me getting my both temples scarred. It’s now been over 2 years and only thing I’m concerned about is that they keep appearing really red. I don’t know what’s wrong. I’ve tried pretty much everything except surgery and professional dermatological therapies. Any ideas?

  3. I’ve had 9 operations on my right hand now. I’m not bothered by the scars at all but I do hate the fact that I have now got 2 triangular shaped scars that are restricting my movement. On top of all that my ring fingers middle joint can’t straighten out but will move in a bit now I’ve a tendon in my finger after 8 years of not having one.

    Any ideas on how to soffen the triangular scars and free my joint up a bit???

  4. Ineedthatknee says:

    Good day. I had knee ACL staging operation done about a month ago. My scars have healed up and are looking good as far as the skin goes. I have a nasty bump of scar tissue from a scar on the front part just under my kneecap. And I also have had another long scar that was put on my previous surgery scar which is also tender and feels like there is scar tissue build up. Just wondering if having massage done by myself with essential oils or liquid vitamin e at home would help or if I should go to a RMT for post op massage.

    ~Ineedthatknee

    • Hi Ineedthatknee, Vitamin E has very little effect on scars other than keeping them moisturized (read: http://scarsandspots.com/vitamin-e-get-rid-scars). While moisturization is important, it will do little in terms of fading the discoloration or flattening the scar. Based on the scars you mentioned, we do think it would be a good idea to go to a RMT for massage to help soften your scars and break up the fibrous bands of tissue.

      • cheryl detmer says:

        Hi, I have painful scars around my incision I had from bone spur in achille’s heel tendon. It had to be repaired from the damage and bone spur shaved. Now I feel worse pain from the scar tissue they tell me is what is bothering me. I’m going back to dr to find out what to do more. I’ve done massaging for the time period he said to do it. Been almost two months. I’m worried and can’t live with this pain. That’s just not acceptable. Have to find a way to get it to be gone. It is hindering me a lot. Motion is fine but the pain is very bad. I take what I can for relief. Bio freeze but it’s not a lot of help. And heat and ice. I might need the RMT. Not sure what it means but therapist I am sure for massaging. It’s just been awful and wish I’d never had this surgery or had been told of this problem after. I would not have done it because I am not tolerating it well. Hope for advice anywhere I can get it. Thanks for listening. Almost think bone spur was not as bad as all this. If I’d only known. I’m stuck now though.

        • Hey I have the same pain in my achillies tendon it’s very sore and sensitive especially after i exercise and my range of motion is now being effected.. But I notice when I massage the area circular wise and spray vitamin E and some other herbs and rub the area it feels a lot better after and I can’t regain my ROM. The best treatment is stretching the more I seem to stretch in the morning and before and after work outs and before I go to bed the better off it feels… I was running full speed playing basketball and I came to a sudden stop it was very awkward and I heard a piping noise and my achilles area felt rubbery and it stayed like that for a few days and I was in pain as well. I didn’t continue activities for a few weeks but once I got back on my feet I would be sore after work outs. This continued for about 6months till finally I was mostly pain free this is the original injury and the cause of my ailment and I’m guessing that I more than likely seriously strained to slightly tore my achillies but I never had it checked out and it basically healed on its own luckily it healed ok but there is scar tissue around the tear that has formed over time and the residual effects are now being felt a few years later. Hopefully that helps a bit Cheryl.

  5. I had lipo about 4 weeks ago & my whole midsection is hard and discolored. How do I get rid of the hardness?

    • Is the scar hardened and discolored or your midsection in general? If it is your midsection, you should definitely speak with your doctor. If it is the scar itself, you can massage the area daily and apply a scar treatment. The massage will help to soften up the scar tissue (but have patience, as it takes time) and the scar treatment will help with the discoloration of the scar.

  6. I had a lumpectomy in my right breast. The surgeon tunneled through to remove 3 tumors with as little external scarring as possible. I now have scar tissue which is quite hard and I am worried that I won’t feel it if another tumor develops because of the scar tissue being in the way. Will softening it help, and can I do that through massage?

    • Hi Hannah, it’s never too late to soften scar tissue. Whether you are using a scar treatment or lotion, use the time when applying it to also firming massage the scar for about 2 minutes twice daily. Over time, you’ll feel the scar soften a bit and possibly even flatten a little.

  7. I’ve been having severe pain in my right side around and under my ribs for over three years. I’ve seen several doctors (including an acupuncturist) and have had thousands of dollars in tests and discovered nothing. Finally my OB referred me to therapist. I had five 30-45 minute sessions with her. Sometimes it helped. Sometimes it made the pain worse. I had surgery when I was a teenager (so about 35-40 years ago) where they took bone marrow from my ribs and used it to repair my cleft lip. The scar is about 2 inches or so in length and very rough, hard and raised. This last therapist I saw thinks I have a severe build-up of scar tissue. My primary doctor is now sending me to a pain management clinic to help with the pain. I’m wondering if surgery to remove the scar tissue is a good idea. Or, would this just cause me to have more scar tissue build-up. The pain is sometimes so unbearable I can’t even get out of bed. Thanks.

    • Hi Brenda, Maximize the results you get from therapy first. Then get a surgical opinion if you are still in a lot of pain. The surgeon should be able to tell you the if risking more surgery could potentially create more painful scar tissue for your situation or not.

  8. I cut my point finger and scar tissue influences how far it can bend now (knuckle nearest hand). How can I tell which direction to massage?

  9. I had anterior hip replacement 2 months ago.The scar tissue is the only thing bothering me now and the doc said I could massage it. If it hurts when I touch it, do I just painfully get thru it and keep massaging and with what lotion?

  10. Hello!
    I had a pynodal cyst removed from my lower back, lots of surgeries required. But anyways, I have about a pinky length scar and its just a bit wide. I’ve almost completed the healing process but obviously a big scar like that takes quite a bit of time to whiten I assume, correct? I also wanted to ask if its normal for it to be a little bit tough and still numb a bit? The doctor told me to reach the cyst it involved cutting fairly deep, meaning tiny nervous were destroyed (or something like that). And also, should I try to gently massage the scar or just leave it alone? Its a sensitive area and I’m super paranoid about doing something wrong! I’ve had the cyst for almost 3 years and FINALLY got rid of it, so I’m sure you could understand why I’m so cautious with it.
    Anyways, an answer would be most appreciated! Thank you

    • Hi Adrianna, a few things – for a scar to turn white means your body doesn’t produce enough melanin to make it flesh colored. More often than not, hyperpigmentation (darkening) occurs, not hypopigmentation (white scar.) In order for the scar to fade, use a Vitamin C-rich scar treatment twice daily and if this scar is exposed to sunlight (swimming, clothing, etc.), then be sure to apply sunscreen SPF 30+ often to protect it from UV rays. Your surgeon going in deep to remove the cyst does put you at risk for some nerve damage and that may be why you still feel sensitivity where your scar is. You can still massage it, albeit gently, to help break up the fibrous tissue that is forming beneath the skin. When applying the scar treatment, use this time to massage the scar. It takes about 1-2 years for a scar to completely mature and heal.

  11. Hi
    I have had a kidney removed from cancer and when my doc removed it he had to cut the muscle away from my lower rib. Now it seems that the scar tissue is so big that I feel like that side is twisting in knots when I sit for any length of time. It really hurts when trveling and makes trvel very uncomfortable for long periods. How can I solve this problem shor of cutting the scar tissues away which means another surgery.

  12. I had most of my colon removed due to a tumor growing around it. I have no bag. Yet I now have scar tissue growing around that area. It is quite large bigger then a soft ball. Very uncomfortable u can feel it by pressing on my stomach. I can feel pressure underneath my ribs. I am over weight yet I am also physically active. I presently have beenbtrying to massage the area but is there something else I can be doing. Thank u

  13. Hi,

    I had to have back surgery (almost a year ago) and I have a fairly large linear scar. it’s indented into my skin, not flush with the rest of my back is there a way to “plump” the scar to make it flush and not indented?

    I do have my husband massage the area and we use emui oil, but it’s still several indented into my back. :-(

  14. I have this round scar that pops up about a couple millimeters, and it is very hard and disgusting looking, because half the time it is a open wound. It was from a mosquito bite that I scratched. Will I be able to ever remove it?

  15. 13 weeks ago I had a total shoulder replacement. My scar is still very tender to the touch and gets very tight and painful throughout the day. Underneath the scar gets very tight and is painful to stretch out. What do you suggest for this situation?

  16. I had open heart surgery in July of this year. I developed an infection with an open wound right between my breasts on my bra line. I was in wound care with a wound vac for 2 months. It is finally healed but I do have a hard lump the size of a nickel at the site. Is it too early to massage? I get uncomfortable wearing a bra all day but wonder if this helps to break it up

  17. I impaled my foot on a tire iron 10 years ago under my fourth toe on the ball of my foot and miraculously avoided any bone although it did hit an artery. As it healed, a helix shaped scar formed around metallic particles left in the wound and I had to have it removed. I chose to do it at my podiatrist”s office to avoid anesthesia. I looked like dental floss. It healed…but in years following I have a pencil eraser sized scar that continually “grows” and callous around it that I must shave or have cut out routinely to alleviate the pain of walking on it.
    Sometimes when Im sleeping it will send a shooting pain through my scar area and wake me up, and sometimes like right now it itches deep inside. Massaging it is incredibly painful from one side leasing me to think its grown around a nerve.
    I don’t want another incision and new scar tissue, is tissue remodeling appropriate for this?

  18. Carol crummitt says:

    I had surgery December 17th, 2015 vertical incision appx 7″ starting close to belly button on left side and recently started feeling rock hard scar tissue. I still have some of the adhesive strip they used to close the incision. How to soften these rock hard scar tissue. Thank you

  19. Hello I’m hoping for some advice for my 5 year old boy. About 2 weeks ago he had a nasty tumble off his bike into his face. Immediately after impact it looked like his face was sunken in on one side. But doctors have ruled out broken bones.. It continued to swell and bruise. As the swelling has subsided We’ve noticed that a hard lump has appreared under the skin at the point of impact and this has caused him to have a one sided dimple most obvious when he smiles as the skin is now contorted around this lump. It does not look natural and I hate to think that he would have this deep groove in his face for life now. Could this lump be scar tissue under the skin? Is two weeks too early to start massage? If not should I apply hot compresses with the massage?
    Please give me any advise you can. I’m so worried for him.

  20. Hi on my dermatologist advice I had a dermapen for mild acne scars. The procedure was painful and the aftermath was even more painful. My left side of face was swollen more than right. Now the swelling has gone down but there are raised areas of skin which create discomfort on my left side of face. It’s been 17 days since the procedure. I think this is scar tissue under the skin. Please suggest something.
    Thanks and regards

  21. I have an old scar…self harmed scar for about 4 years…not so deep…brown in colour…tried lots of ointments…tell me any remedy

  22. When I was a young girl I had a cyst removed from the bottom of my foot. A skin graft was used on the wound. All my life ( im now 56) a hard build up of skin now forms around the grafted area which measures about an inch long and 3/4 wide. The grafted area is soft and never hardens but hard skin builds up around the edges. I literally tear away the skin or use a pumice stone to file it down. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?

    • Hi Annette, keep doing what you are doing, but also keep the skin on the bottom of your foot as supple as possible by using a moisturizer daily. Perhaps a consultation with a podiatrist may be helpful.

  23. Hi, I had a pimple on the vermilion border of my top right side lip which I tried to pop and ended up applying alot of pressure on the surface of my lip to do so. The next day it got inflammated and the following days it got worst with increased swelling that then developed into a huge sore. I went to my dermatologist and he gave me something for the inflammation when helped. The entire right top side of my lip had a scab over it and as the scab came off the skin over my lip was reformed but was very thin. Also, my vermilion border on that side was one with my facial skin. This happened close to 3 years ago. The lip lost some of its plumpness but the vermilion border had reformed slightly and the skin got slightly thicker. Unfortunately, when I smile this one side slants downwards a bit and there were bumps under the skin of my lips. I recently started to massage it about a week ago and realize it got rid of the bumps but my lip is still a bit slant and not as plump as the other side which is a bit noticeable. I’m wondering if I continue to massage my lip, will the vermilion border heal and appear as vivid as the other side and will my lip regain it’s plumpness since some of the fleshy part under the skin of my lip was probably pressed down or lost? As well, will it firm back up and align with the left top side of my lip as it use to?

    Your advice will be highly appreciated. Thank you.

  24. Hi I had a lisfranc fracture to 1st and 2nd metatarsal in Dec 15. The impact for the break caused large blood clots across my mid foot and as a result I had a large and deep debridement that was covered by a skin graft. Area is about 10cm long by 4cm wide. It’s deep (can fit all my thumb in it vertically). Have been massaging twice a day with bio oil and trying to stretch by flexing my foot. Am doing partial weight bearing for another month before screws come out. One side feels softer but not much change in the other side, which is the deeper side. Anything else I could be doing?

  25. hi i have lupus scars left i’vhad them for a year now the lupus has gone but scars are still there please help what do you suggest ???

  26. Hi hoping someone can help ,I recently ,had a bad cut on my eyelid under my eye brow and did not get stitches ,I had a scab for a week which has now fallen off too soon i think as it still hurts and now I am left with hard risen bumps around my scar , I am wondering if this will go away or is it infected ,please Help ….

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