Post surgery scar tissue forms following an operation in which tissue damage is suffered by a patient, generally as an intended or unavoidable result of the procedure. It can form on the exterior of the skin or within the body. For the most part, scar tissue is normal and harmless, but in some cases it can present medical difficulties based on its location and size.
Scar tissue is thick connective tissue generated by the body over a healing wound. It gradually replaces the scab or blood clot that forms initially to stem bleeding. Depending on the size of the wound, scar tissue can begin forming within a day and take weeks to grow over completely. It settles over time in a process known as maturing.
Typically, scar tissue grows in a manner where individual cells are aligned in one direction rather than the cross-hatch arrangement of normal tissue. This renders it thicker and less flexible. In superficial scars, this is mainly just an aesthetic concern. For internal scars, whether occurring as a result of something like a heart attack or after surgery, such thick and fibrous growths can be problematic.
There is nothing functionally different between common scar tissue and that which develops after surgery. For surface scars created either through surgery or injury, there are a variety of treatments available to diminish their size and visibility. Options include chemical peels, enzymes that dissolve scar tissue, and further surgery to remove the scar tissue and purposely work to minimize its reappearance.
Depending on its location, post surgery scar tissue that builds inside the body can cause stiffness and considerably decrease flexibility of nearby joints and muscles. A common post-operation recommendation for surgeries that involve joints, muscles, or ligaments is to move and flex the area routinely as soon as swelling goes down. Doing so helps make sure that the growth of thick bands of scar tissue is kept to a minimum.
Despite such efforts, it is not uncommon for scar tissue to tear weeks, months, or sometimes years after the operation. It is a minor though painful phenomenon that is often mistaken for a more serious new injury or recurrence of the original problem. The tissue normally re-heals with no adverse effects.
In some specific cases where surgery is performed in a sensitive area, scar tissue that develops after surgery can cause biomechanical problems. A common example is impingement on the urinary tract following a hernia repair. In such cases, follow-up surgery is required to remove the scar tissue and restore functionality.