Prism Blog, Surgical Recovery & Scars

Scars in Chinese Medicine

Scars more than one month old can be treated with acupuncture and herbal medicine. Depending on your scar type and preferences it may involve a combination of acupuncture, moxibustion/moxa (a warming herbal therapy), compresses and other topical applications, cupping, lymphatic massage, or myofascial release. These techniques not only reduce the appearance of scars but also break up scar tissue and adhesions, improve nerve and tissue regeneration, reduce keloids and calcification, and ease pain and other lasting symptoms.

Scars may not only be cosmetically undesirable, but may also have an impact on the health of the individual. This is especially true for very large scars; scars with abnormal coloration, lumpiness, numbness, tingling, itchiness, heat or cold sensations, achiness or pain, tenderness to touch, and muscle restriction. Such scars and associated adhesions can indicate or lead to nerve and blood vessel damage, decreased range of motion and muscle strength, increased likelihood of future injury, and chronic pain (especially pins and needles, tingling, and numbness). Scars are especially notable on the torso, where underlying adhesions can impair bowel function, chronic pelvic pain or infertility, depending on the site of the scar.

In Chinese medicine, significant scars are considered to block the flow of the meridians, (similar to the nerve and blood vessel damage pointed to by Western medicine) causing not only pain and decreased circulation, but also potentially impaired internal organ function depending on the meridian affected. Learn more about scars in Chinese Medical Theory here.

All of these techniques can also improve post-surgical sensation and reduce post-surgical pain. Nerve damage and loss of sensation less than three years old can be worked on with significant results, and damage even older than that can improve as well. In addition to the above techniques, we may do cupping massage on the surrounding tissues to release any scar tissue, adhesions, and related muscle tension or injuries that are impacting your recovery.

Scar work generally takes 1-3 months, depending on the size and severity of the scar. Improving sensation and reducing post-surgical pain takes about a month of treatment per year that you’ve had the issue.