A scar develops as part of the normal wound healing process.  Within 2-3 days of the skin’s surface being injured, scar tissue fills in the injured area to close the wound.  Scar tissue can continue to develop over many weeks or months.  What are problem scars and how can massage help? 


How does scar mature?

Immediately following wound healing, a scar is usually red in appearance and is referred to as an ‘immature’ scar.  Between 3 months and 2 years the scar should become paler, flatter and softer and can then be referred to as ‘mature’ scar.  All scars should be monitored carefully and if your scar becomes a problem, consult your therapist.

What is a problem scar?

The amount of scar that develops is dependent on the severity of the injury/surgery, the location of the wound, skin type and slow healing wounds.

A scar can be a problem if it is:

  • Is painful
  • Feels hard and raised
  • Restricts movement
  • Stops you from doing things you need to do on a daily basis

Problem scars can be sometimes be called hypertrophic or keloid scars.  These are scars that have grown larger than the original wound area.


It is important that your scar does not get sunburnt.  If possible, try to wear clothing that covers your scar, use sunscreen and stay in the shade when outdoors.

What is scar massage?

Massaging a scar involves rubbing and moving the skin and underlying tissue in a firm manner.  When massaging, it is recommended that you use a non-perfumed moisturiser cream such as sorbolene or vitamin E.  The type of cream is not so much as important as the massage technique. Massage can help to soften and flatten the scar.  Scar tissue may stick to the underlying muscles, tendons, nerves, tissues, and bones.  Massage can help prevent this from happening and helps keep the scar flexible.

Scars may feel sensitive, tingle or hurt when touched.  Scar massage can help to control this and eventually the sensitivity should settle down.

It is really important that scar massage is not painful.  Why should it be? It does not need to hurt and if you find someone has offered you scar massage and it is painful, ask them next time to lighten up a little.  Scar will respond to gentle pressure.  Scar massage provides gentle pressure.  Heavy or painful rubbing of a scar can cause swelling in the area and that is not good for scar healing.

Scar massage is something that we teach frequently here in therapy.  If you have a scar and would like to know more, we can definitely help you with your massage technique and also teach you other great tips to reduce your scar tissue.