Understanding Scar Tissue Healing: The Role of Mindfulness and Massage

mastectomy massage mindful self-care post-mastectomy massage self-care Jul 10, 2023

Scar tissue healing is a complex process that requires a delicate balance of knowledge, skill, and intuition. In recent years, the power of mindfulness has emerged as a valuable tool in enhancing scar tissue healing outcomes.

By cultivating a deep sense of presence and awareness, massage therapists can read the signals of scar tissue more effectively, assess and treat scars in alignment with their healing stages, and achieve remarkable results.

In this blog post, we delve into the profound effects of mindfulness on scar tissue healing, backed by scientific research.


The Power of Mindfulness in Scar Tissue Healing

  1. Enhancing Awareness: By being fully present and aware, massage therapists can attune themselves to the subtle cues and signals of scar tissue. This heightened awareness allows for a deeper understanding of the scar's condition and facilitates more effective treatment interventions.

  2. Reading Scar Tissue Signals: Mindfulness enables practitioners to interpret the unique characteristics of scar tissue, such as texture, temperature, and sensitivity. This knowledge empowers therapists to tailor their approach and choose techniques that address specific scar tissue needs.


Understanding the Stages of Scar Tissue Healing

  1. Avoiding Force in Early Stages: Mindfulness teaches us to respect the natural progression of scar tissue healing. By understanding the stages of healing, therapists can avoid pushing the scar tissue beyond its capabilities during the early stages. This approach promotes optimal healing and prevents further trauma or complications.

  2. Unwinding Mature Scars: Mindfulness aids in unravelling dense, mature scars with limited inflammatory response. Therapists can use gentle techniques guided by mindfulness to gradually release adhesions and cross-links between collagen fibers, promoting improved tissue mobility and reducing pain.


Research Studies Supporting Mindfulness and Massage in Scar Tissue Healing

  1. Study: Meester et.al. (2018) showed "larger increases in mindfulness were related to greater reductions in skin permeability 3 and 4 days after wound induction. In addition, MBSR [mindfulness based stress reduction] was associated with lower levels of interleukin (IL)-8 and placental growth factor in the wound fluid 22 h after wound induction. These outcomes suggest that increasing mindfulness by MBSR might have beneficial effects on early stages of wound healing". [para 1]

  2.  Study: Corbin, L. (2014) mentions massage may be helpful for improved postoperative wound healing, sleep, pain, fatigue, constipation, and improved immune function" [para 1]

  3.  Study: Field, T. (2017) relates that moderate pressure massage has been shown to be beneficial for reduction in cortisol (the stress hormone), vagal activity leading to increased relaxation response, emotional regulation, improved sleep, reduction in pain, lowered heart rate and blood pressure, and improved immune function, all of which suggest the body will have better resources available for executing wound healing. 

Mindfulness is a powerful and transformative approach that can positively influence scar tissue healing. By being fully present and aware, massage therapists can effectively assess, treat, and unwind scar tissue, promoting optimal healing outcomes for their clients.

Scientific research supports the profound impact of mindfulness and massage on wound healing, the patient's ability to modulate stress, have improved immune function and stimulate their own innate healing mechanisms.

By embracing mindfulness in our practice, we unlock the potential for exceptional scar tissue treatment experiences and positive, lasting results.


Eryn Price is a registered massage therapist in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.  She is passionate about bringing resources to both patients going through breast and chest surgery, as well as the therapists who support them.  She offers continuing education courses for healthcare professionals, both virtually and in-person.  Please click here to find out more about The Mastectomy Guide's professional training series. 




Corbin, Lisa W., 'Massage Therapy', in Donald I. Abrams, and Andrew T. Weil (eds), Integrative Oncology, 2 edn (New York, 2014; online edn, Oxford Academic, 1 Nov. 2014), https://doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199329724.003.0012, Accessed 6 July 2023.

Field T. Massage therapy research review. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2014 Nov;20(4):224-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2014.07.002. Epub 2014 Aug 1. PMID: 25172313; PMCID: PMC5467308. Accessed 6 July 2023.

Meesters, A., den Bosch-Meevissen, Y.M.C.I., Weijzen, C.A.H. et al. The effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on wound healing: a preliminary study. J Behav Med 41, 385–397 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-017-9901-8.  Accessed July 6, 2023

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