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How do Scars Affect the Lymphatic System?

How do Scars Affect the Lymphatic System

Do scars affect the lymphatic system? Scars can create swelling.

The answer to that question is YES, but it is always best to explain the why. The skin is the largest organ in our body. It is the first line of defense against infections, toxins or elements that can do us harm. In order to perform its role, the skin houses nerve endings, capillaries and lymphatic capillaries along with many other minute structures.

The role of the lymphatic system is to balance the fluid levels in the interstitial space, transport waste and macronutrients, and to provide a first line of immune defense. It is for that reason that the skin houses such a large number of lymphatic capillaries.

When for whatever reason, the continuity of the skin is interrupted, the continuity of the lymphatic vessels is also interrupted. This break in continuity is even worse when the break is horizontal (side to side) versus vertical (up and down). For example, take a woman who has had a C-section. The surgery is now done with a horizontal incision for various reasons. Instead of cutting through a few lymphatic vessels, the doctors are now interrupting the lymphatic vessel continuity over several inches. It is for that reason that many women will have a small pouch of swelling below the incision line.

Swelling due to scars can be treated with lymphatic drainage massage.

The very brief answer is YES, but again, it is always best to give an explanation to an answer. The body has a fantastic ability to heal and adapt itself. The lymphatic system is capable of adapting itself and creating new vessels, connections, and pathways with the help of a lymphatic drainage massage therapist.

How does the lymphatic drainage massage therapist help?

One thing that the lymphatic drainage massage therapist will do is to evaluate the scar. If the scar looks very bunched up and tight, they will do some massage techniques that will loosen the tissues and allow the skin to realign itself a little at a time.

In order to treat the inflammation, the lymphatic drainage massage therapist will “push” the fluid towards areas with lymph nodes and other larger lymphatic vessels. Building the new pathways is much like building a house.

First the need for the pathways and the area of the pathways needs to be studied. Then as the massage therapist starts to push the fluid in the right direction, a foundation starts to be laid for the new vessels. And just like a house, the structures are built up little by little, it is for that reason that several lymphatic drainage massage sessions are required.

Many research studies have shown that five to fifteen lymphatic drainage massage sessions are required to build the necessary lymphatic vessels. In the case of a C-section patient, five treatments is sufficient, but someone who has had major surgery to treat breast cancer, and has massive swelling will need closer to fifteen appointments. The best way to know how many sessions would be needed is to book an appointment for a consultation so both parties can better understand what the goals are and the treatment plan to reach them.

Sante Physique
Sante Physique
I’m Miriam Gaudelli, RMT BSc in Exercise Science Specialization in Athletic Therapy Sports, Kinetic Swedish, Vodder Lymphatic Drainage, Cranial Sacral Therapy. Sante & Physique is Certified from the Vodder Institute and listed with the Lymphedema Association of Quebec. Looking to book an appointment? Call us a 514-586-4441 or Book Online