Scar Work is a new emerging therapy that is not only breaking down adhesions but changing the way that we rehab.
It evolved from the Rolfing technique, a light facial tissue, body work treatment designed by Dr Ida Rolf in the 70’s. It has since progressed, through the work of Sharon Wheeler into the new accredited Scar Work and is beginning to build a body of research to support its benefits.
Scar Work is a light treatment done without oils or moisturiser. It is responsive to what the therapist finds and aims to hydrate and help the healing, appearance, and functionality of old and new scars.
Open wounds can take up to 3 years for the scars to fully mature therefore, there is a huge window of opportunity to support healing and ensure or maintain good mobility in the area. After a short period, usually from 6 weeks (providing no infection and an all clear from the surgeon), treatment can begin starting with light touch, encouraging the return of normal sensation to the area. Gentle sweeping actions towards the scar brings the body’s natural chemicals to hydrate and heal the area. Then, as new collagen is laid down these areas are also worked on to ease movement, pain and prevent fibrosed tissues developing.
Treatment is always individualised and often supported with a movement or exercise program. It should be pain free and there will be an element of emotional healing that comes with starting to accept one’s new body image and function.
A common question is “Isn’t it too late to start work on my scar”? The answer seems to be no. A study by de Valois et al. (2021) showed that improvements could be seen in appearance, consciousness, and improvements in symptoms such as itching, discomfort and numbness in all scars from 4-17 years old was also seen. The approach however is slightly different as, due to adhesions being more established and therefore compensations setting in throughout the body, the focus would be on the period in-between treatment sessions encouraging strength work to help you cope with the changes occurring. Therefore, instead of weekly sessions you might do a more staggered approach watching and reacting to how the body responds.
After care following surgery is not currently focused on scar management beyond preventing infection. An accredited Scar Work practitioner can advise you on optimal nutrition, hydration, patches, and gels to promote smooth scars and optimal healing and support you through the trauma that you and your body has just been through. It is a holistic therapy and, before long, will be considered an essential part of your recovery.