Simple-Steps for caring for your scar after surgery

48 hours after surgeryyou are likely to feel discomfort, swelling and have some bruising, as well as dressings and maybe drains. Eating is important, something light to line your stomach, to help you heal. Do not take medication on an empty stomach as it can cause nausea, cramps and dizziness. Drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and be patient with yourself [1-4].

Beware Infection – keep a beady eye out for signs of increasing redness, heat, or rash around the scar. Keep the wound dry and clean; be aware of any sign of general infection, such as fever or nausea. Keep your hands and the area around the scar clean and dry. Get in touch with your surgical team straight away if you suspect infection[5-6].

Manual Lymphatic Drainage (MLD) – is vital to the healing process, MLD is not a regular massage!  MLD is a specialist treatment scientifically proven to improve lymph flow, reducing painful swelling/oedema, bruising and sensitivity. MLD helps prevent infection and the impact of pro-inflammatory cytokines, (which if not regulated can lead to inflammatory disease). MLD boosts tissue reformation and healing. Colchester Holistic Health Clinic (CHHC) MLD therapist is professionally regulated and highly experienced.

Mobility – keeping active is good for your general health and wellbeing; it is important post-surgery to keep moving, slowly and steadily if your scars are new. Standing up and walking short distances every hour will help your lymphatic system and circulation, reducing fatigue, aiding healing and recovery.   Daily breathing and ball exercises demonstrated by a CHHC therapist are beneficial to rehabilitation and restoration of health.

Skin Care – moisturizing your scar is vital as your skin’s natural ph balance and barrier are damaged. Silicon Gels can help improve the appearance of scars. Daily moisturizing with clean hands 2-3 times throughout the day after your scabs have all gone will optimize the tissue environment to achieve healing, which restores elasticity and tensile strength to the injured tissue, as well as providing aesthetically pleasing results.

Self-Massage – gentle self-massage techniques help promote softness and pliability of your scar and surrounding tissue. Our qualified therapist can tell you when it is safe to do this and demonstrate how. Scar tissue is very fragile, so be very careful not to over stimulate the new scar or cause pain or inflammation, as this will damage the scar tissue and cause tissue over production of collagen, resulting in Hypertrophic or Keloid scars or delayed healing.

Protection – the skin is the largest organ in the human body. It forms an effective barrier between the body and outside environment and protects the body from dehydration and environmental insults. Do not expose scars to sun or extremes of temperature hot or cold. Use high SPF on any exposed area of scars, as it is extremely delicate and susceptible to damage. It can take up to 2 years for scar tissue to fully mature.

Scar Therapy – helps scars from 6 weeks to decades old. Plastic surgery scars, keyhole scars, burns and trauma scars can all be treated and amazing changes achieved. There is clinical evidence that scar therapy is essential to help pain, tenderness, softness and sensitivity.  Scar therapy resolves irregular lumps and bumps, ropey ridges and gaps. Specific techniques can eradicate tight knots and cords in the tissue, helping them to become flatter and smoother. Scars cause many problems. Extracellular matrix does not usually achieve the same flexibility or strength as the original tissue. Contractures cause disability and pain; 51% of bowel obstructions are caused by scars.  At CHHC we can support healing with Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation to promote healthy recovery.

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1             Deflorin, C., Hohenauer, E., Stoop, R., van Daele, U., Clijsen, R. and Taeymans, J., 2020. Physical management of scar tissue: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine26(10), pp.854-865.

2             Grabowski, G., Pacana, M.J. and Chen, E., 2020. Keloid and hypertrophic scar formation, prevention, and management: standard review of abnormal scarring in orthopaedic surgery. JAAOS-Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons28(10), pp. e408-e414.

3             Ladin, D.A., Garner, W.L. and Smith Jr, D.J., 1995. Excessive scarring as a consequence of healing. Wound Repair and Regeneration3(1), pp.6-14. DOI: 10.1046/j.1524-475X.1995.30106.x

4             Natarajan, S., Williamson, D., Stiltz, A.J. and Harding, K., 2000. Advances in wound care and healing technology. American journal of clinical dermatology1(5), pp.269-275.

5             Shin, T.M. and Bordeaux, J.S., 2012. The role of massage in scar management: a literature review. Dermatologic Surgery38(3), pp.414-423.

6            Waibel, J.S. and Rudnick, A., 2015. Current trends and future considerations in scar treatment., 34, 134(1), pp.13-16.