What Is Post Surgery Scar Tissue?

Mike Howells

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.

Post surgery scar tissue that builds inside the body can cause stiffness of nearby joints and muscles.
Post surgery scar tissue that builds inside the body can cause stiffness of nearby joints and muscles.

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.

Post surgery scar tissue occurs when tissue damage is suffered by a patient as an unavoidable result of a surgical procedure.
Post surgery scar tissue occurs when tissue damage is suffered by a patient as an unavoidable result of a surgical procedure.

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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.

Scars from surgery and injury typically fade over time.
Scars from surgery and injury typically fade over time.

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.

Scar tissue can form outside and inside the body following surgery.
Scar tissue can form outside and inside the body following surgery.

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.

A chemical peel may be one way to diminish the visibility of a surface scar.
A chemical peel may be one way to diminish the visibility of a surface scar.

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.

Cream that contains vitamin E may be helpful in treating post-surgery scars.
Cream that contains vitamin E may be helpful in treating post-surgery scars.

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.

Dermabrasion is a treatment performed by a medical professional to repair scars on the face, neck or chest.
Dermabrasion is a treatment performed by a medical professional to repair scars on the face, neck or chest.

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Discussion Comments

myharley

Are adhesions and scar tissue considered the same thing? After I had a hysterectomy, I developed adhesions. This was explained to me as small bands of scar tissue that were forming where I had the surgery.

Sometimes I still get some abdominal pain and cramping and wonder if the adhesions are the cause of this pain.

andee
When I gallbladder surgery many years ago, I developed post-surgery scar tissue. This not only showed up on the outside of my skin, but my doctor said is also on the inside.

If I have to undergo another abdominal surgery in the future, they will be have to be very careful because of the scar tissue I have. Hopefully I won't have to worry about this, but at least I know about it ahead of time.

John57

@LisaLou-- One of the best things I have used for scar treatment is lavender essential oil. For me, this has worked on recent scars as well as scars that I have had for a long time.

I just apply a few drops of this essential oil on the scar at least once a day. I recently had knee surgery, and began applying this right away.

I used to get really big, ugly scars after a surgery like this, and with the lavender oil, it made a big difference in what they looked like. Not only did the area seem to heal faster, but the scars didn't get as big and red as I was going through the healing process.

LisaLou

My body produces a lot of scar tissue after surgery. I have had two abdominal surgeries and the scars on my stomach are not pretty.

It has been several years since these surgeries, and the scars are a little less visible, but they are still more pronounced than I would like them to be.

Does anyone know of any natural remedies that help reduce scar tissue even after it has been so long after the surgery? I would love for these scars to fade away so they weren't so noticeable.

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