Massage After Surgery

Exploring the Safety of Post-Surgery Massage Therapy: What You Need to Know

Going through surgery can really take a toll on your body, leaving you in pain, feeling stiff, and sore. That’s where post-surgery massage therapy comes in! It’s becoming increasingly popular as a solution for quick recovery and easing some of the discomforts associated with surgery. But hey, we get it – safety is a big concern. So, let’s dive into the ins and outs of post-surgery massage therapy to see if it’s the right option for you. In this article, we’ll debunk some myths, explore the benefits, and give you all the info you need to make an informed decision about your post-surgical care. So, whether you’re curious or just want to learn more, let’s get started!

Understanding the Healing Process 

Before delving into the safety aspects of post-surgical massage, it’s essential to understand the general healing process that occurs after surgery. Immediately following a surgical procedure, the body initiates a complex healing response involving inflammation, tissue repair, and scar formation. The duration and specifics of the healing process can vary depending on the type of surgery performed and individual factors, such as overall health and adherence to post-operative care instructions.

Potential Benefits of Post-Surgery Massage

  • Individuals coping with pain – massage possess remarkable pain-relieving capabilities. By alleviating the pressure of lymph fluid surrounding nerves, it effectively diminishes pain and discomfort, potentially reducing the need for pain medication.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety before and after surgery is crucial as it can intensify pain. Massage therapy effectively calms our nervous systems during moments of heightened stress, promoting a sense of calm and well-being.
  • Prevent swelling -Swelling is a natural inflammatory response that occurs during the healing phase after injury or surgery. Massage therapy can be beneficial in reducing swelling, especially when incorporating Lymphatic Drainage techniques. By relaxing the muscles and promoting proper blood circulation, massage aids in the reduction of swelling and supports the healing process.
  • Shortened post-operative healing time – massage therapy improves blood flow, leading to enhanced nutrient and oxygen delivery throughout the body. As a result, it accelerates the healing process after surgery.
  • Prevent scar tissue – Massage has proven to be effective in both breaking up existing scar tissue and preventing the excessive formation of scar tissue, whether it is internal (adhesions) or external (outside of the skin).
  • Promote flexibility and mobility – Massage therapy is a valuable practice that enhances the flexibility and mobility of muscles and joints. This becomes especially crucial after undergoing procedures that necessitate prolonged rest or immobility. For patients who remain immobilized, massage serves as an excellent choice as it initiates the stimulation of neuromuscular function, thereby expediting the recovery process.
  • Strengthens the immune system – Massage therapy boosts the number of white blood cells in the body, bolstering its ability to fight off infections. Additionally, it reduces inflammation and stress hormone levels, promoting smoother postoperative recovery.
  • Improves mood – massage therapy plays a crucial role in enhancing mood and mental health due to its positive impact on our immune system. Beyond the pleasurable sensations it provides, receiving a massage, particularly after surgery, elevates our dopamine and serotonin levels. This boost aids in our ability to cope with recovery and alleviate pain. The profound influence of touch extends to both our mental and physical well-being.

What type of massage is good after surgery?

Following surgery, the body experiences significant stress and trauma, resulting in inflammation and stiffness. Massage therapy has proven to be effective in alleviating these symptoms and facilitating the healing process. Below are various types of massages that are particularly beneficial post-surgery:

Deep Tissue MassageThis type of massage uses firm pressure to reach deep muscle layers. It helps reduce muscle tension and breaks down scar tissue, which can impede healing. However, it’s important to avoid the surgical site for at least six weeks after surgery.

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM): This technique involves using special tools to scrape over the skin to address adhesions and promote blood flow. IASTM is generally used in conjunction with deep tissue massage.

Remedial Massage: A remedial massage therapist focuses on specific injuries and areas of dysfunction to restore muscle balance. This type of massage can be effective in treating muscle imbalances that develop after surgery.

Therapeutic Massage: This massage technique employs a diverse array of methods to alleviate pain, enhance flexibility, and reduce inflammation. Moreover, it contributes to stress reduction, a crucial aspect of comprehensive healing.

It is crucial to seek guidance from a skilled massage therapist who specializes in working with post-surgical clients. They will be able to customize the treatment to meet your specific requirements. While massage therapy can provide numerous benefits after surgery, it is essential to wait until your doctor has given clearance and to avoid any areas that are still healing. Prioritizing these measures will ensure a safe and effective healing process.

Safety Considerations

While massage therapy can offer numerous benefits during the recovery process, it is crucial to prioritize safety and consult with your healthcare provider before receiving a massage after surgery. Here are some key safety considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Timing: The timing of when to start post-surgery massage is critical. It is generally recommended to wait until the incisions have fully healed and any sutures or staples have been removed. Your surgeon or healthcare provider will guide you on the appropriate timing for starting massage therapy.
  2. Communication: Open and honest communication between the patient, surgeon, and massage therapist is essential. Inform your massage therapist about your surgery, the specific procedure performed, and any potential complications or restrictions you may have.
  3. Expertise: Choose a licensed massage therapist experienced in post-surgery care. They should have knowledge of anatomy, surgical techniques, and proper techniques to use during the healing process.
  4. Modality Selection: Different massage modalities may be more appropriate at different stages of the healing process. Gentle techniques, such as Swedish massage or lymphatic drainage massage, are often favored during the initial post-surgery phase to promote circulation, reduce swelling, and aid in pain management.
  5. Avoiding Affected Areas: The massage therapist should avoid applying pressure or manipulating areas around the surgical site or any wounds to prevent disruption of the healing process.

Types of Surgery

The safety of getting a massage after surgery largely depends on the type of surgery you undergo. Some surgeries may have specific guidelines regarding post-operative care, including massage therapy. Here are some examples:

  • Orthopedic Surgery
  • Cosmetic Surgery
  • Abdominal Surgery
  • Cardiac Surgery

Each of these surgeries may have unique considerations, and your healthcare provider will provide tailored advice based on your situation.

Healing Progress

  1. Early Post-Op vs. Later Stages: The timing of your massage is critical. In the early postoperative phase, massages may need to be gentler and focused on pain management. As you progress in your recovery, more intensive massage techniques can be considered.
  2. Listen to Your Body: Pay close attention to your body’s signals. If you experience discomfort or pain during a massage, inform your therapist immediately. Your comfort and safety should always be the top priorities.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I get a massage right after surgery?

In most cases, it’s not advisable to get a massage immediately after surgery. Consult your healthcare provider for specific guidance on the timing of post-surgery massages.

Are there any risks associated with post-surgery massages?

While post-surgery massages can offer benefits, there are potential risks, including infection or injury. Consult your healthcare provider to weigh the risks and benefits of your unique situation.

What massage techniques are suitable for post-surgery recovery?

Gentle, non-invasive techniques like lymphatic drainage and effleurage are often recommended for post-surgery massages. However, the choice of technique should be based on your surgeon’s recommendations and your specific needs.

How can I find a qualified massage therapist?

To find a qualified therapist, look for someone who is licensed, certified, and experienced at working with post-surgery clients. Seeking recommendations from your healthcare provider or friends can also be helpful.

Can post-surgery massages help with scar tissue?

Yes, post-surgery massages can aid in the management of scar tissue by softening and breaking it down, promoting smoother healing.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before getting a post-surgery massage?

Before scheduling a post-surgery massage, it’s crucial to discuss your intentions with your healthcare provider. They can guide timing, technique, and any potential contraindications.

Final Thoughts:

Exploring the safety of post-surgery massage therapy is a vital topic that requires attention from both patients and healthcare providers. While massage therapy has numerous benefits, it is crucial to understand that post-surgery patients have unique needs and vulnerabilities that must be considered before starting any massage therapy treatment. It is essential to choose an experienced and licensed massage therapist who can assess your individual needs and develop a tailored treatment plan that is safe and effective. Additionally, post-surgery patients should always consult with their doctors before starting any massage therapy treatment to ensure compatibility with their recovery plan.

Overall, post-surgery massage therapy is a promising complementary treatment that has been shown to reduce pain, inflammation, and stress during the recovery period. However, it’s crucial for both individuals seeking massage in Long Beach and their healthcare providers to approach massage therapy with care and thoroughness, especially post-surgery. This ensures that the benefits of this holistic therapy are harnessed safely, promoting healing and side-stepping potential complications.

Picture of Mara Swick
Mara Swick

Mara Swick is a seasoned licensed massage therapist and esthetician with over two decades of expertise. Her profound knowledge and hands-on experience make her a trusted voice in holistic wellness and skin care.