Sharon Wheeler's ScarWork
ScarWork is a specialised manual treatment to help patients with scar tissue, fibrosis, adhesions and changes in tissue health following surgery and radiotherapy. Sharon Wheeler, an American therapist, developed these techniques over the last 40 years and now teaches around the world. At Restore Therapy Clinic, Emma Holly has been accredited by Sharon Wheeler to teach ScarWork and, alongside the clinic, Emma regularly runs training for professionals, selecting top therapists to join the Restore Therapy ScarWork team for their skills and expertise.
Photos from clients at Restore Therapy clinic shown here demonstrate that the improvement to the scar and underlying adhesions may be visible. Primarily, ScarWork therapy concentrates on the underlying layers of the dermis, fascia and any adhesions around the scar, helping to mobilise and soften thicker tissue in scars from surgeries or accidents. Not all clients will have a visual change, but usually the scar will feel softer, smoother and looser after treatment.
Unlike some scar therapies, ScarWork treatment is rarely painful. Treatment is always given within the client's comfort levels. Usually clients notice changes incrementally each session. Treatments will be given 1-4 weeks apart, depending on the age and presentation of your scar and understanding what changes you hope to achieve.
We can still treat your scar even if it is decades old...your body is constantly renewing cells, so even old scar tissue can respond to stimulation with ScarWork therapy.
ScarWork following an Operation or Accident
ScarWork was developed by Sharon Wheeler with around 30 techniques to treat a range of presentation of scar tissue, after a surgery or accident creates a scar. So it won't matter if your scar feels thick and lumpy, or tight and puckered, or feels like a gap of spongy tissue - we will have a technique adapted to help stimulate improvement.
ScarWork treatment is not painful, and usually gently progresses through the layers of tissue from the upper levels of the skin, deep into the fascia and muscles at the speed that is right to help promote your recovery. We believe if a client feels relaxed, their bodies will respond better to treatment. We need the cells to be in “renew and repair” mode. This often happens at rest or while we sleep, or relax, so avoiding pain and creating a calm environment all helps to make your treatment deliver the best results.
A selection of the conditions clients have had treatment for:
- Abdominoplasty scar
- Bowel resection scar
- Breast augmentation scars
- Breast reduction scars
- Cancer surgery scar
- Carcinoma and melanoma removal scars
- Childhood scars
- C-section scar
- Drain and port scar
- Facial scars including accidents, maxillofacial surgery and hairlip scars
- Gallbladder or appendix removal scars
- Hysterectomy scar
- Joint replacement (knee, hip and shoulder)
- Keyhole surgery scar
- Mastectomy, WLI (lumpectomy) and breast re-construction scars (TUG, DIEP, TRAM, LAT Flap etc)
- Open Heart Surgery scar
- Scars from accidents
- Spinal surgery scar
- and many more....
ScarWork for Burn Scars
Hypertrophic burn scars (scars in the area of the original burn that are raised) or contracture burn scars are common complications of a burn injury and can limit movement and function, as well as affect body image. ScarWork treatment may help improve the mobility in the skin, fascia and any adhesions in the underlying tissue following a burn. Treatments start with light sweeping movements to stimulate the upper layers of the tissue to help encourage improvement, even decades after an accident. Burn scars often have a larger surface area and treatment may be ongoing over a number of months to achieve the required outcome.
What can I expect in my initial appointment?
The initial appointment lasts 55 minutes. Your therapist will discuss your medical history and establish any symptoms you have as a result of your scar, such as itching, tightness, pain or reduced mobility. We will clarify your goals for treatment-whether that's optimal recovery or addressing a specific problem. You will be asked to make yourself comfortable in the treatment room, and asked to disrobe so that we can access the scar and the area around your scar. When treating clients with scars in more personal areas such as bikini line scars from hysterectomy and c-section, or scars from breast cancer, breast augmentation scars, or heart surgery scars, we will be aware of your modesty and towels and blankets are on hand to drape any areas not being treated.
Manual therapy and scar assessment will be given. ScarWork starts in the upper layers of the tissue, stimulating the dermis and superficial fascia before working through the deeper tissues and muscle. You should remain comfortable throughout, and even those who struggle with sensitivity issues or dislike touch around their scar usually quickly improve within a couple of treatments.
At the end of your treatment, your therapist will discuss the treatment and suggest aftercare appropriate to help recovery. Some self-scar massage techniques can be shown for you to continue stimulating scar healing between appointments, if requested.
How many treatments will I need?
The number of treatments needed will vary depending on the severity of your condition and the goals you have for treatment. Many clients find that between 4-8 treatments are sufficient to make the improvements they were seeking from ScarWork. Each session will usually bring an incremental improvement in the scar and surrounding area, creating more softness and reducing the restrictions caused by the thickening of the underlying tissues and any adhesions (sticking) between the layers of muscle, skin and adipose tissue. Some clients looking for optimal recovery or with additional complications post surgery and radiation therapy may require a higher number of treatments. Clients with capsular contracture as a result of breast augmentation, or breast implants and radiotherapy after breast cancer surgery, may choose to have ongoing treatments to maintain comfort.
Can children have ScarWork?
ScarWork is a very gentle approach to scar management so it is a perfect treatment for children with scar tissue problems, such as tightness, adhesions and fibrosis (thickening of the tissue). Children who have undergone surgery or have scars form accidents usually recover well as they heal faster healing than adults. A well healed scar is flat and white, so if your child's scar is remains red beyond 18-24 months or has thickened raised tissue, or dips and pulls on movement, these are indicators they may benefit from some ScarWork.