What is Therapeutic Ultrasound for Scars?

What is Therapeutic Ultrasound for Scars?

Most people equate the word “ultrasound” with fetal imaging. Indeed, one of the most common applications of ultrasound technology is allowing a pregnant woman to see her unborn child, know its gender ahead of time, or learn other things about a pregnancy.

However, while ultrasound technology is probably most often used for fetal imaging, it can serve several other valuable applications as well—including, believe it or not, scar therapy.

A “therapeutic ultrasound” is a type of ultrasound that utilizes ultra-high sonic frequencies as an aid in the healing of wounds or other injuries. When an ultrasound probe covered in a gel is touched to a wounded area, the probe transfers high-frequency vibration into the tissues at that site. These vibrations can relax the local tissues and direct extra blood flow into the area, which can in turn help to relieve pain and speed up healing.

Why Therapeutic Ultrasounds Are Good for Scars

It is important to note that therapeutic ultrasound technology can have positive effects on many different kinds of injuries. Chronic back pain, muscle sprains or strains, pain in the tailbone, joint issues (including certain types of arthritis), and more. With injured or arthritic joints, the increased blood flow provided by a therapeutic ultrasound can actually assist in collagen reformation. The positive effects of therapeutic ultrasound, in other words, are versatile and far-reaching.

In scar therapy, a therapeutic ultrasound might be used for the purpose of scar tissue breakdown. Previously injured tissue can lose its elasticity as scar tissue grows back in its place—a phenomenon that isn’t only limited to skin, but which also occurs in muscles, tendons, and other body tissues. This more hardened tissue can be a significant problem depending on the location of the scar on the body. Since scar tissue is less elastic than the intact skin, it can impair range of motion and overall function in parts of the body that tend to move or flex on a regular basis. Scars on the hands, at joints, or on the face are examples.

Therapeutic ultrasound can help “break down” the fibrous, collagen-rich tissue that forms at the site of scars. The fast vibrations of the ultrasound probe can contribute to making scar tissue more elastic, which in turn can restore range of motion and reduce scar pain or irritation.

Similarity to Scar Desensitization

The effects of this type of therapy, then, are similar to the benefits of scar desensitization—which involves rubbing or tapping scars as they heal to eliminate sensory nerve fibers and ensure more evenly distributed and pliable scar tissue. The main difference in these two forms of scar therapy is that one (scar desensitization) is only efficient during the scar healing process while the other (therapeutic ultrasound) can be effective both during healing and after scar tissue has formed and hardened.

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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.

Comments

  1. My scars from 2008 and 2009 from knee surgery are turning red and they hurt pretty bad can you tell me why and should I go to the doctor?

  2. Alma adamos says:

    How can I get rid or lessen the appearance of my old scar in my legs?

    • Hi Alma, a stable form of Vitamin C applied twice daily for about 12 weeks should help. Since this scar is on your legs, you will have to also applying sunscreen everytime your legs are exposed to the sun (swimsuit, dress, shorts, etc.) as UV rays will darken it.

  3. Myrah Davis says:

    I had a total knee replacement in April, 2016. My ROM has been very impaired because of my scar tissue. In June, 2016, I had a manipulation. ROM did not improve. In January, 2017, I had surgery to remove scar tissue. That did not improve ROM. My doctor said scar tissue still grew back quickly and is affecting ROM.

    QUESTION – Will therapeutic ultrasound help me? Will it affect metal in knee joint?

    Thank you for any assistance you can provide?

    • Hi Myrah, Ultrasound wth deep tissue massage has been shown to help soften tissues and should not affect your metal joint in any way. Typically, the earlier you start once you are cleared by your surgeon, the better. Get the all clear from your surgeon and give it a go.

  4. I have internal scar tissue in my nose on the right side. This has increased the size of my nose on the right side. It feels quite hard will the ultrasonic waves break up the tissue and reduce the size? Could it make the lumpy area smaller or would it simply make it more flexible.

    • Hi Hana, When combined with aggressive scar massage, ultrasound can help soften and breast up scar tissue, effectively making the area affected by the scar smaller. Technically though, I have to say ultrasound of the nostril would likely be very challenging.

  5. Is ultrasound treatment bad for keloid acne scars? I have had cortisone injections in my keloid from acne scars on my shoulders. I have someone recommending ultrasound treatment.

  6. Can ultrasound be used to break down hypertrophic scars on the breast as a result of mammoplasty? Is it safe to use on breast tissue?

  7. J. Roger says:

    What is the latest information and success/failure ratios in treatment of Peyronie’s disease?
    Thanks.

  8. I had liposuction on my sides of my legs 8 years ago. I have uneven hard lumps. Would ultrasound help? If yes, what is the name of the ultrasound machine? Any, other suggestions ?

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