Post-Operative Scar Care

Should you massage your scar?
YES, but wait until at least week 3 and discuss it with your surgeon first.

Scar massage has several important functions:

  • It promotes collagen remodeling by applying pressure to the scars.
  • It helps decrease itching.
  • It provides moisture and pliability to the area.

Scar Massage Technique

Scar tissue massage should only commence when the stitches have been removed/dissolved, all scabs have disappeared and no weeping or heat is present. Usually after 2 weeks. Be sure your doctor is happy with the scar before you start as you may break down the tissue if you massage too early.

  • Apply lotion to all scar areas once your surgeon has given you the ok.
  • Massage the lotion in, applying enough pressure with the pads of your fingers to make the scar area white.
  • Massage in all three directions:
    • Circles (clockwise or counterclockwise)
    • Vertical (up-and-down)
    • Horizontal (side-to-side)
  • Do this three times a day

Reasons for massage:

  • Reduce sensitivity to the area
  • Stimulate optimal tissue healing and prevent adhesions of superficial or deep tissues
  • Regain range of motion.

The area around the scar may feel numb or have altered sensation or may even be painful. Gentle massage helps reduce this sensitivity.

Use non-perfumed creams such as sorbolene cream, Vitamin E or Bio-oil.

  • Brush and stroke gently at first above and below the breast in a sweeping motion. Use the pads of your fingers for this.
  • Then you can massage across the scar itself with one fingertip in a circular motion along the length of the scar, concentrating on areas of harder/tighter scar tissue.


  • You can use any lotion that will make your skin soft
  • You should avoid perfumed lotions,
  • You don't necessarily need to use lotions containing aloe vera or vitamin E oil.
  • MooGoo has been highly recommended by patients and can be purchased at most chemists and has no chemicals


This is a good sign that you are healing but can be very irritating. Cool compresses may help as can firm pressure with your fingers. DO NOT apply a heat pad or wheat bag as these can burn and blister the skin

Post Operative Swelling:

Swelling is a common complaint after breast surgery. For the most part, it is unavoidable. Remember that your body has been through major trauma with surgery .

An indicator of swelling is when a seam on your bra leaves a far deeper marks than just 'sheet marks' from simply wearing them.

Returning to normal activities:

  • Slowly build up the amount of weight you carry starting with your drains. Build up to 1-2 kg/L initially and gradually increase weight carried.
  • If you’ve had a total mastectomy and tissue expanders inserted watch pushing open heavy doors or pushing shopping trolleys for first 2 weeks and keep arms at shoulder height.
  • Gradually return to normal exercise such as tennis and gym work – seek your surgeon’s advice on when this is appropriate for your particular surgery.
  • Ask your surgeon’s advice on when you can return to high impact exercise e.g. jogging.
  • Try to use your arm as normal.