Acupuncture scar therapy: what is it and how can it help me?

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By the time we reach adulthood, almost all of us have at least a few scars. Excepting keloid scars, they are signs of a normal, healthy healing process, and many of us wear certain scars as badges of honor. However, often the case is that we worry about scars being unsightly reminders of trauma, and in severe cases they can restrict movement and function. And although it’s hard to believe, despite the currently ever-expanding field of medical innovation, there are still relatively limited ways to approach scar treatment in today’s day and age. 

Chinese medicine has recognized the significance of scars and incorporated effective techniques for hundreds of years. These techniques have had the benefit of becoming more refined over time, and with the benefit of modern knowledge, new approaches to treatment are also considered. The most common acupuncture treatment for scars is called “wei ci”, or “surround the dragon”. Acupuncture needles are inserted around the edges of the scar to stimulate blood flow and increase cellular repair, while at the same time creating a desired disruption of the collagen matrix that gives scars their characteristic look. When the scar is the primary focus of treatment, I often will recommend the inclusion of dermal micro-needle rolling and home use of silicone scar sheets or other topicals in conjunction with acupuncture.

Acupuncture scar therapy will not eliminate a scar. But with regular treatment the appearance of scars will become softer, less red, and overall more subtle. For severe scars that restrict movement, more ease and freedom will develop, and adhesion to underlying tissues will soften. Very often, overall sense of well-being will be increased, and there will be a renewed sense of vitality and ease. As someone who has a lot of scars and has benefited from scar therapy myself,  I feel passionately about its ability to promote healing to the local areas being treated, and throughout the body as a whole.

When I notice a scar that looks like it could benefit from treatment, I often will try and incorporate it into regular treatments. However, if you have a more severe scar (or scars), you may want to choose to focus on scar therapy for your entire treatment, so that the areas can be treated with greater detail. Acupuncture scar therapy is beneficial for all types of scars, including, but definitely not limited to traumatic injury, previous self-harm, and surgeries including laparoscopic procedures, mastectomy, c-section, joint replacement, and gender-confirmation. You should expect to commit to weekly treatment for at least ten weeks in order to receive maximum benefit, but of course this could be higher or lower depending on the story and circumstances of your scar. 

(photo credit: Etsy)