Scar Tissue after Surgery Meaning, Causes and How to Reduce Them

Scar Tissue after Surgery Meaning, Causes and How to Reduce Them


A glaring scar tissue after a surgery to correct a functional deformity or any other complication is not the idea of fun for most of us. Scar tissue are often painless and of no concern (maybe their location allows you to hide them with ease), but if you would rather not see that ugly or painful scar tissue anymore, read on to get a round up on scar tissue reduction.

What Is Scar Tissue after Surgery

I am into the habit of reading people’s question and ideas in online beauty and health forums as a way to get a spotlight into our readers and potential readers’ minds. It was on one such “stroll” in one of my favorite forums that I came across the questions. “What is scar tissue after surgery?”

A post-surgery scar tissue is best described simply as a collection of fibrous tissue that accumulates in a wounded area (in this case, the point of surgery) of the skin as part of the healing process. A scar tissue commonly heals gradually as to eventually fade away although most don’t go away not completely.

A scar tissue is usually comprised of collagen, the type of protein found in normal skin as well, but the collagen in the scar tissue usually deviates from that in normal tissue in that it has a linear formation in one direction rather than the basket-weave formation of collagen constituting normal tissues.

What Causes Scar Tissue after Surgery

Now that we know what a scar tissue is, the next question is almost naturally, “what causes scar tissue after surgery?”

Surgical procedures more often than not involve making incisions to the skin and other organs. Naturally, the body tries to heal this physical cut by or wound by fibroblast cells from the surrounding area migrate into the area and then begin to build up collagen, leading to formation of a scar tissue.

Collagen serve to strengthen the area where surgery was performed while facilitating the healing up of the wound. The build up of Collagen typically continues to build up for 3 months or so and is accompanied by an increased supply of blood to the site. This explains the red appearance of some of the scars.

As the time goes by, the collagen in the scar tissue begins to break down and the supply of blood begins to recede and the scar tissue starts to breakdown. It is then replaced with normal tissues.

This describes a normal scar tissue cycle but in some instances, excessive scar tissue is formed leading to formation of adhesions. These are bands of scar tissue that attach to the surrounding tissues making organs and tissues that are naturally separate to stick together.

When this happens, nerves may get pinched leading to painful scar tissue. Adhesions can also reduce the range of motion and restrict physiological function. Adhesions are often to blame for abdominal pain, back pain, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, breathing difficulties, chronic pelvic pain, and menstrual problems, not to mention infertility.

Infected Scar Tissue after Surgery

Healing scar tissue often gets infected when the post-surgery care measures are not observed properly. You can always avoid such incidents by observing the guidelines given to the last word in order to avoid infections and ensure a quick healing process which on turn minimize the risk and degree of formation of formation of scar tissue.

How to Get Rid of Scar Tissue after Surgery

Scar tissue often appears after a surgery in the area where the surgical incisions were made as part of the healing process. Scar tissue can form on the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments and can affect any part of the body.  Here is how to get rid of scar tissue after surgery:

Medication and cortisone injections: medication is the first line of action in getting rid of scar tissue.  Painkillers and analgesics are some of the medications used for treatment of scar tissue associated pain. It is commonly used for treatment of acute scar tissue pain, but may also form part of the treatment for a severe scar tissue pain. Cortisone injection also often helps to relieve a scar tissue.

Exercises: stretching and flexibility exercises can also be used to get rid of post-surgery scar tissues. These help to workout and stretch the injured tissue and improve overall mobility and relieve pain. Exercises commonly form part of the physical therapy in addition to massage.

Cryotherapy: this is basically cold pressing of a scar tissue (using ice packs) which has been shown to have positive effects to a healing scar tissue.

Therapies: various therapies are also used to get rid of scar tissue and manage the pain often associated with adhesions and vary from Myofascial Release, Active Release Technique (ART) and Graston Technique.

Different therapies use different approaches. For example, for Myofascial Release, the skin around the scarring site and the underlying tissues are massaged in slow motion and using light pressure to release adhesions and treat scar tissue.

Some Myofascial Release patients report a kind of prickling when a scar tissue (in adhesions) is releasing. Various treatment sessions may be required for completely healing of the scar tissue and 4 to 6 1 hour treatment sessions is a realistic expectation.

Your GP may be able to offer recommendations for chiropractors and other practitioners offering such therapies.

Surgery: surgical scar tissue removal is often used to get rid of severe scar tissue. There are various surgical scar revision options available. Talk to your doctor about the prospect of undergoing a surgery to get rid of that pesky scar tissue.

Other ways to get rid of scar tissue are:

  • Laser scar resurfacing
  • Dermabrasion
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Filler injections
  • Acupuncture (useful for painful scar tissue)

Massaging Scar Tissue after Surgery

Otherwise known as scar mobilization, scar massage forms an important part of the physical therapy usually administered following a surgery. It is commonly used to remodel healed scar tissue after surgery. Yes, I used the word healed because massaging an improperly healed scar can damage the scar tissue and extend the healing process considerably.

In general the scar need to have closed completely and no scabbing should remain, but you will want to talk to your surgeon for confirmation before beginning scar massage.

Massaging of the scar is commonly administered by the physiotherapist but s/he can as well instruct you on the proper way to massage the scar.

Healing Scar Tissue after Surgery

The other day someone asked for tips on healing scar tissue after surgery. Well, cryotherapy and appropriate medication (e.g. analgesics or painkillers) can help to enhance the healing process, but like we said, most therapies including Myofascial Release are only suitable for healed wound. Surgery is also not generally recommended for a new scar tissue.

Scar Tissue after Abdominal Surgery – Is It Permanent?

Is a scar tissue after abdominal surgery normally permanent? Well, scar tissues are usually not permanent and most will fade away after some time. It is however very unlikely that the scar tissue will fade away completely.

But if it becomes a cause for concern – maybe it affects your range of motion or is associated with pain – or you would rather hasten the healing process, then you may want to talk to your surgeon or GP about some of the treatment options and scar tissue management and treatment options that we have highlighted in this article.

How to Reduce Scar Tissue after Surgery – Prevention

There is always the risk of formation of scar tissues after a surgery, regardless of the skill of your surgeon and the location of the surgery. This is simply attributed to the facts that surgery requires making incisions through the skin.

Of course the risk of higher degree of scarring is even higher if the surgery is done by a less experienced, but the surgeon’s experience has little influence on the formation of scar tissue in its basic sense.

There are however various ways in which you can prevent and reduce scarring. Here is a brief guideline in how to reduce scar tissue after surgery (and of course to prevent):

  • Follow your surgeon’s aftercare guidelines to the letter to prevent infection and ensure quick healing. Delayed healing is often attributed to higher risk of scarring.
  • Avoid smoking: This is not the easiest thing to do but it is a worthy sacrifice considering the fact that it can prolong the healing process. In fact most plastic surgeons will require you to quit smoking for a couple weeks before they can operate on you.
  • Stay away from alcoholic and caffeinated beverages
  • Observe proper nutrition and gets adequate protein as proteins constitute the building blocks for the healing tissues. You will in particular want to incorporate seafood, fish, chicken and dairy products in your diet.
  • Stay properly hydrated. At the very least take 8 glasses of water everyday.