Scar Rehabilitation: More Than Skin Deep

Emilie McKay, RMT - ottawa massage blog
By: Emilie McKay, RMT
Emilie is a registered massage therapist at Body Poets who specializes in scar rehabilitation.  Along with publishing an award-winning case study based on scar rehabilitation, Emilie has taught scar rehabilitation to students and RMTs.

A wounded body requires repair. The body has the ability to heal wounds and once the healing is complete, a scar remains. A scar can be as powerful as the force that created it. There are various ways scars are created: trauma, surgery, or burns. But they all leave a message behind.

The majority of those who have experienced the act of scarring, are left feeling stuck with the outcomes of the scar. Their thoughts are stuck with the idea that there is no improvement possible. They believe that the stiffness, decreased mobility, lack of sensation and weakness are impairments they will now have to live with, along with the constant reminder of the visible scar.

This isn’t the case, however.  Massage therapy is becoming a predominate therapy in the rehabilitation process of scars.

Scar rehabilitation focuses on getting the impairments associated with scars back to a functional level and getting the client to a confident mind-set. It does not get rid of the visible scar, but helps the body adapt and perform better with the scar.

Scar rehabilitation massage can:

  • Decrease adhesions and stiffness
  • Improve range of motion of scarred and other affected areas
  • Improve muscle strength of scarred muscles and compromised muscles
  • Improve sensory impairments around scar
  • Nourish the skin and aid in the appearance of the scar
  • Improve confidence and satisfaction with scar condition

Who can receive scar rehabilitation massage therapy?

Anyone with a scar with impairments of pain and stiffness, decreased motion, lack of sensation, muscle weakness, or other impairments can receive scar treatment. Those who take strong pain medications or have compromised immune systems should discuss with their MD before beginning treatments.

Week 3 incision

Hysterectomy scar three weeks after surgery

How early can you work on a scar?

Once the scar has healed and you are able to get back to activities of daily living, then scar rehabilitation therapy can begin. Really, the sooner the better.

Incision after massage and healing

Hysterectomy scar after several weeks of massage and healing


I’ve had my scar for years, can I still receive treatment?

Scar rehabilitation has proven to be effective on scars of any age. A longer treatment schedule is to be anticipated with older scars, as the scar tissue will be harder to adapt.

How long would a treatment plan be?

Each scar has a different story, therefore a different treatment plan. Your therapist will discuss with you what they anticipate, but every four to five treatments a re-evaluation of your progress will help dictate how quickly the treatment plan can be completed.


Skin rolling for scar treatment

Does scar rehabilitation hurt?

Like all massage therapy, scar rehabilitation is done within the client’s pain range. Scar rehabilitation uses more aggressive and direct techniques than a regular sports or wellness massage, so pain can occur. Your therapist will communicate with you throughout to ensure you are comfortable. Post-massage soreness, redness, and minor swelling are common and should be relieved within a day or two. If symptoms persist, inform your massage therapist.

If you’d like to know more about treating your specific scar, visit our website or call our office, 613-222-0465.

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About Body Poets Massage Therapy

Three-time nominee and 2016 winner of Top Massage Clinic in Ottawa! At Body Poets Massage Therapy, we are committed to excellence in client care. We provide therapeutic, sports, pre- and post-natal, wellness, cupping, hot stone, ART, Thai massage, and more in a convenient, peaceful, downtown Ottawa location with free client parking. We are FSCO-registered and can bill your auto insurance company directly for treatment after a motor vehicle accident. We also bill directly to Great West Life and Green Shield. Our flagship office at 504 Kent Street in Ottawa is close to the Queensway and easy to reach by car, foot, bike or bus. Our satellite clinic in Almonte, Ontario is cozy and charming. Our online booking system makes it simple for you to reserve your appointment at any time. And our network of like-minded health professionals means we can refer you to practitioners in other fields who meet your needs for quality care. Step into the circle of care, at Body Poets.,,

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