Does Massage Help Break Down Scar Tissue?

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Image of scar tissue on an elbow.

Does Massage Break Down Scar Tissue?

Even though it may have been a long time since having a surgery or injury, many people continue to carry scar tissue on their skin. Typically, scar tissues form when normal tissue is destroyed by disease, injury, or surgery. It is even possible that it can cause pain, limited movement, and unsightly marks on the skin. It happens because after surgery or injury, collagen cells are clotted together randomly and lose their natural formation, as the body does not know how to properly arrange these cells.

The good news is that scar tissue can be remodeled, or possibly reshaped, in many ways with efficient massaging, as massage helps to break down the collagen fibers and align them in the right directions. Besides, massage helps to improve blood flow to promote scar healing progression and reduce swelling by draining excess fluid. Read the entire article to find out more information about this subject.

What is Scar Tissue?

Image of scar tissue on an elbow.
Elbow showing scar tissue.

Scar tissue is formed by collagen. Normal healthy collagen is attached in specific ways and directions that energize your tissues. When you fall into an injury, your body releases collagen, which wants to be normal healthy tissue. As a result, collagen cells are randomly placed near the injured tissue, leading to scars on the skin.

Basically, the rapid growth and repair of tissue is what causes the scar tissue, and it is actually the body’s natural method. When any scar tissue forms, it is remodeled over time and begins behaving like your normal healthy tissue. There are several instances in the body where scar tissue will form. For example, after surgery, scar tissue can be formed on the skin where the surgical incision is. Besides just on your outer layer of skin, internally if the muscles and tendons are cut or repaired, scar tissue will form there also.

If you have formed scar tissue on your skin, do not be upset. Using a Massager for Scar Tissue helps to remodel the collagen fibers and break down the scar tissue to arrange the collagen in the right ways and directions. This can help promote a more natural tissue movement.

Is Scar Tissue Permanent?

The scar tissue on your skin will never be removed entirely after an injury or surgery. But it can be remodeled, sort of realigned, to be able to handle a full range of speed, strength, and mobility. Scar tissue remodeling can be achieved through massage, oil or ointment, mobility exercises, and sometimes lightweight exercises. The purpose of scar tissue reconstruction is to restore tissue function by normalizing cellular and organ metabolism. Typically, it takes about six to eight weeks for the injured skin tissue to rebuild completely. Massaging of this tissue during the regrowth phase is very important to help it form, shape, and align in such a way so as to maximize movement and function.

How Do You Get Rid of Scar Tissue?

If you have any scar tissue on your skin after an injury or surgery, your physical therapist may massage the scar site to reconstruct the collagen. Remember that improperly massaging a scar can cause harm to the remodeling of scar tissue, which can delay healing. Additionally, this process can cause bacteria and infections in your body if your scars develop open sores. Please continue to read below, we have discussed some significant information and modalities that can be performed on the scar tissue.


Using a small amount of lubrication like baby oil, lotion, or vitamin E oil during scar massage keeps the scar pliable and soft. If your scars are open sores or incisions, do not use any lubricants. It could be a pathway where an infection may enter the body with lubricant.

Cross Friction Massage

Cross friction or transverse friction massage is one of the most effective methods of remodeling scar tissue. It involves using one or two fingers to massage your scar in a perpendicular direction to the scar line. This process helps to remodel the scar and ensure that the collagen fibers of the scar are correctly aligned.

Myofascial Release

Myofascial release (MFR) involves using the hands to massage the skin and underlying tissues around the scar. In this process, you have to move your hand slowly and provide a light amount of force. As your scar tissue feels for restrictions in different directions, this process will improve movement in those restricted directions.

ISATM Massage

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization massage is a relatively new procedure that uses special stainless instruments of various shapes and sizes to massage the scar tissue. This technique rubs your infected area and helps to break down the scar tissue.


Stretching is another common flexible exercise to remodel your scar tissue. This process helps to elongate the injured tissues and improve overall mobility. Most experts agree that long duration, low load stretching is essential to remodel your scar tissue completely.

Does Massage Break Down Scar Tissue

Image showing different types of massage motion to help break down scar tissue.
Circular, up and down, and side to side motion used to help break down scar tissue.

Medical and scientific studies have shown that manual therapy, such as massage, has the ability to break down scar tissue. After surgery or injury, the collagen cells in the scar come together randomly and lose their natural structure because the body does not properly arrange the collagen cells.

Once the affected area is lubricated with oil, vitamin E oil, the previous scar tissue becomes soft. When different massage techniques like cross friction massage and myofascial perform on the affected area, the alignment of collagen fibers improves movement. To break up the built-up collagen, you can also use a steel instrument.

Massaging will be most effective within six to eight weeks during the scar-breaking. Over time, you will see notable benefits to massaging scar tissue, including:

  • Enhanced blood flow to develop progress in scar healing.
  • Enhance range of movement, making the scarred not feel so tight.
  • Reduced swelling of the scarred area by draining excess fluid.
  • Less scar tissue forming, which can decrease muscle weakness and stiffness.
  • Reduced the feeling of numbness and tingling.

When Can a Massage Help Break Down Scar Tissue?

Massage can help break down scar tissue in many situations, including acute pain, after surgery and scarring.

Acute Pain

As scar tissue formation creates a restriction that increases the pain, massage can reduce the pain by breaking the scar tissue. During the massage, the blood flow increases in the scarred area, which raises the temperature of the muscles and tissues.

Risen temperature reduces the elasticity of the tissue, which helps the scar tissue to break down easily. As a result, scar tissue increases the range of movement and relieves pain.


After surgery, scar tissue is formed to repair damaged muscle fibers and tissues. The elasticity and flexibility of the scar tissue are not like the body's natural muscle fibers. So, movement can be limited and cause pain, exacerbating the effects of surgery.

The temperature of the wound area increases during the massage, which helps to improve the elasticity and flexibility of the scar. When elasticity and flexibility are increased, the scar tissue breaks down easily. As a result, limited movement is reduced, and pain is decreased.


Due to the haphazard positions of collagen fibers, different colored scars are formed on the skin, affecting people psychologically. During the massage, the temperature of the affected area rises, leading the scar tissue to become loose and break. As a result, collagen fibers form scar-less tissue that helps reduce the appearance of scars.

When Is it Safe to Massage Scar Tissue?

Image of ankle massage to help break down internal soft tissue.

As massage can help you rebuild your scar tissue, it is essential to do it once the scar is matured. Massage can disrupt the healing process when the scar tissue is not completely healed. It can reopen stains, bacteria, and infection on the scar tissue. Usually, a matured scar is entirely closed, there is no scabbing, and it is not red or swollen. So, it is best to consult a doctor or qualified therapist to check if you are ready to massage your scars when in doubt.


Breaking down scar tissue means remodeling of collagen fibers formed in the skin. Different types of massage can be used to break down scar tissue. Massaging in the right direction can raise collagen fibers’ temperature, oxygenation, and regeneration, preventing tissue restriction and reorganizing the fibers to rebuild your scars easily. This procedure will heal your scar tissue faster and potentially reduce the appearance of your affected area. You can use this process in a variety of situations, including acute pain, post-surgery, and scarring.

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