How to Desensitize Surgery Scars

(Image: David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Surgical scars are often tender to the touch and sometimes painful. Follow all of your doctor's instructions regarding post-operative care. Depending on the surgery, you may also need to work with a physical therapist. Before beginning to desensitize your surgical scars at home, wait until the incision area has fully healed and no longer shows signs of seepage. After it is healed and the scab has fallen off, begin to desensitize the scar tissue by using both percussion and friction massage techniques.

Use percussion, or tapping, massage to alleviate tenderness in the scar tissue. Locate the most sensitive spots by tapping lightly on the scar area with a fingertip. Use a clock to note the time.

Tap lightly, but rapidly, on the area. Two to three times per second is the ideal tapping rate. Continuously tap on the same area for about three minutes, or until there is a change of sensation in the area. You may notice numbness, or the area may begin to feel less tender. Rest for a minute, then repeat in another area. Continue the tapping exercises several times daily until the tenderness has improved.

Use friction massage to improve tenderness and restore the appearance of the skin. Friction massage stretches the scar tissue. Place a fingertip on the scar. Gently push the skin in one direction and hold it for five seconds. The Electronic Textbook of Hand Surgery notes that it's important not to allow the finger to slide across the skin, but rather to hold the finger in the same position while relocating the skin.

Allow the skin and scar tissue to fall back to the natural position. Repeat this exercise, with the finger in the same spot, in the other three directions. Move the finger to another spot on the scar and repeat. Repeat this massage several times daily.

Tips & Warnings

  • Massage the scar tissue before applying lotion or creams.

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