Scar Release Patient Information: (downloadable PDF)

Sean Mulvaney, M.D.

Background of Scar Release

Surgical scars or scars from other trauma can cause tissue layers within and around the scar to get stuck together. These trapped layers can entrap small nerves which cause pain, and also prevent the body part from moving in a normal way which can lead to more pain in that area. By restoring the normal tissue layers the scar area can move in a normal fashion which can result in a great deal of pain relief.

What to expect and how to prepare for scar release

There are no special measures to take before a scar release. This is a mechanical process and is not interfered with by drugs.

What happens during the scar release procedure?

The skin is cleaned with a surgical skin cleaner and sterile ultrasound gel is placed on the skin over the scar if the ultrasound is going to guide part of the procedure. The skin is numbed with a small amount of lidocaine. Then, a hypodermic needle is placed in the numbed skin and guided under the scar tissue, and safe intravenous fluid is injected under the scar to break up adhesions (stuck areas) between the normal tissue layers. By breaking up these adhesions and restoring normal tissue plans the body can be restored to its normal movement patterns. This procedure can also free-up small nerves that have been caught in the adhesions and can improve pain right away. Some scars are deep and have many layers. Each layer needs to be released. Ultrasound-guidance is used to precisely release the deeper layers.

What to do after your procedure

Usually very little or no medication is needed by most patients. Acetaminophen can be used for mild pain. Avoid showering for 1 day and avoid immersion in water for 2 days. Any bandages can be removed after 1 day. Exercise is vital to good health and finding a way to cross train around your injury is important not only for your physical health, but for your mental health as well. Ask me about cross training options for your injury. Avoid toxins like alcohol, which inhibits and depresses the cells needed for tissue repair. Some brief (10 minutes or less) period of heat or ice therapy will not hurt the therapy, but it is not required. Usually, depending on the initial injury, physical therapy, if indicated, can be started the next day. Improvements in pain and function should be expected almost immediately. Most scars require at least three treatments separated by a week or longer.