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Eight Important Benefits of Massage After Surgery

Updated: Jan 31, 2023

By Taylor Paganini, Licensed Massage Therapist

Even before medical intervention like surgical procedures and pharmaceutical drugs, Massage therapy was one of the main therapeutic approaches for healing. When collaborating with the western medical model, massage therapy is still in its infancy. Fortunately, more and more medical professionals including surgeons are including massage as part of their post operative treatment plans. For anyone who has ever had surgery or any procedure for that matter, knows that the procedure itself isn’t the hardest part but the recovery that follows. How we react or feel after a procedure is entirely individual and unique to each person. Some people can have a quick and painless recovery while others linger in pain and have a much harder time bouncing back. If you want to speed and enhance your recovery, consider seeing an experienced massage therapist like ours.

What is Post Operative Massage?

Post operative massage therapists will often use specialized techniques such as Manual Lymphatic Drainage and potentially integrate Swedish or Deep Tissue massage into a session. During a Lymphatic massage, the therapist uses gentle strokes in specific directions that stimulate the flow of fluid in the lymphatic system. This is usually performed by a registered physiotherapist, massage therapist, and/or other expert health professionals. We usually recommend patients wait about 1-2 weeks post-surgery so that any bruising subsides before coming in for any manual lymphatic work.

There are eight important reasons to consider massage therapy after surgery. Massage will help:

  • Patients deal with pain - massage can have amazing painkilling abilities. As pressure of lymph fluid decreases around nerves, pain and discomfort are relieved and may require less pain medication

  • Reduce stress and anxiety before and after surgery which can exacerbate pain. Massage helps to calm our nervous systems during times of high stress

  • Prevent swelling - swelling is the body’s natural inflammatory response during the healing phase after injury and surgery. Massage can help ease the swelling, particularly using Lymphatic Drainage techniques, by relaxing the muscles and promoting proper blood circulation

  • Shorten post operative healing time - because of improved blood flow, massage enhances nutrient and oxygen delivery in the body and shortening surgical healing time

  • Prevent scar tissue - massage has been shown to significantly break up existing scar tissue as well as prevent excessive scar tissue formation, whether internal (adhesions) or external (outside of skin)

  • Promote flexibility and mobility - Massage helps improve flexibility and mobility of both the muscles and joints. This is particularly important after a procedure requiring rest or immobility for long periods of time. Massage is a great option for patients who are still immobile as it starts to to stimulate neuromuscular function to increase recovery time.

  • Strengthens the immune system - massage increases a person's white blood cell count, which plays a significant role in defending the body from infection. Massage also lowers our body's inflammation and stress hormone responses having a possitive effect on postoperative recovery.

  • Improves mood - because of its positive effect on our immune system, massage therapy plays an important role in mood and mental health. Not only does massage feel good but getting a massage (especially post-surgery) increases our dopamine and serotonin levels, helping us cope better with recovery and pain. The power of touch is powerful mentally and physically!

A question I often hear from patients in our clinic that may be awaiting a surgical procedure is whether massage is a safe alternative during their recovery. The answer is absolutely! Massage therapy is safe for most people coming out of surgery and into their recovery process. And because Lymphatic massage is very gentle patients love it! However, lymphatic drainage massages are not recommended for people who have a history of

kidney or liver problems, congestive heart failure or a history of stroke(s) and blood stroke(s)

Getting a lymphatic drainage massage if you have any of these conditions may be risky for your health. Of course, we always recommend checking with your doctor and/or surgeon prior to treatment to make sure it is the right path for your personal situation.

For further questions and/or interest about post operative massage feel free to reach out to us to set up an appointment with one of our trained professionals

Taylor Paganini L.M.T, O.T is certified in Myofascial Release Technique, Trigger Point Therapy, AMMA, and Prenatal massage. Also certified in flame Cupping. Her techniques are to help unblock energy in the body and bring better mobility and functionality to the muscular and nervous systems in order to reconnect the mind/body experience.


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