Mastectomy massage - luxury or necessity?Sep 04, 2019
If you have an upcoming mastectomy surgery, or you've already had it and are wondering what you can do to help yourself heal, this article is for you!
Take a look at the pictures below and decide for yourself how "necessary" massage is:
Little to no post-mastectomy massage:
This woman is an example of what healing can look like with little to no massage therapy intervention.
- She has dimpling and adhesions on her chest where the layers of soft-tissue (muscles, fascia and skin) are stuck together.
- Scar tissue has likely become very dense, possibly anchoring under the skin to muscles, ribs or whatever else it can wrap itself around.
- She probably has restricted blood flow because the blood vessels may have difficulty getting through the dense tissue. Blood delivers the health-giving nutrients to the surrounding tissues and is essential for repair.
- Restricted blood flow can slow down nerve repair so numbness hangs around like a bad roommate - you know the kind, they just never leave the house. Every time you come home they are sitting on the darn couch!
- Her lymphatic drainage is likely restricted, so toxins and fluid build up in pockets of her chest.
- It's probable she has restricted shoulder movement because the tissues of her chest cannot stretch, slide or glide very well.
- She may also suffer from headaches and shallow breathing because her ribs cannot expand and contract very well and she may have to rely on the small accessory muscles of the neck to breathe.
Well don't be. That's why I'm writing this article! There IS hope and there ARE solutions.
Healing with post-mastectomy massage:
This woman is an example of what someone can look like if they choose to partake of post-surgical massage therapy:
- This woman's fascia is smooth and flat. There is little to no signs of adhesions or dimpling.
- The scars tissue is in a neat line and likely not restricting blood vessels, therefore the live-giving nutrients delivered in the blood can nourish and repair the surrounding area with greater ease.
- Because of the increased circulation, nerves can repair more quickly and numbness may depart more quickly in this woman. She ain't got no bad roommates!
- Her lymph can drain more effectively, thereby keeping her tissues healthy and infection-free.
- She probably enjoys full range of motion in her shoulders joints
- Her breathing is probably unrestricted and headaches are a non-issue.
Food for thought:
So, now I ask you!
What quality of life will these separate women experience? Do you think they will be the same? Do you think their long-term health will be affected because of their different recovery trajectory?
I'd say so!
Take into account that we are not just physical beings. We are complex mental, emotional and spiritual beings as well, so our healing takes place on many levels.
How comfortable and happy in her body do you think the first woman will be vs. the second? What relationship with her scars, healing and cancer experience do you think each of the two women will have?
Benefits of post-mastectomy massage:
The benefits are numerous and diverse, and improve whole-person healing. Here are some top reasons to seek out massage therapy for your mastectomy:
- Prepare your body, mind and spirit to receive surgery in the best manner possible
- Practice preventative care against lymphedema starting
- Improve your quality of life
- Improve your comfort in your body,
- Improve your mind-body connection,
- Reduce scar tissue, swelling and pain,
- Breathe more easily
- Improve your strength and range of motion,
- Heal more quickly,
- Adjust to the "new you" with greater ease.
Please! Do yourself a favour and book in with a therapist near you for a series of massage therapy treatments.
If you are in the Vancouver area, you can come see me for treatment. If you live farther afield, seek out a practitioner in your area or take one of my upcoming e-learning courses on self-healing from mastectomy surgery.
You have choices, use them!
(image 1 retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=massage+mastectomy+image&client=safari&rls=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwifzNSW8rXkAhUEL30KHdXTBZIQ_AUIEigB&biw=1438&bih=789 - Sept. 3, 2019)
(image 2 retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=massage+mastectomy+image&client=safari&rls=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwifzNSW8rXkAhUEL30KHdXTBZIQ_AUIEigB&biw=1438&bih=789 - Sept. 3, 2109)
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