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Scar Management

Scar Management After a Total Shoulder Replacement – A Helpful Guide

Scar ManagementWhen you’re mentally preparing yourself for a Total Shoulder Replacement surgery, chances are the last thing on your mind is the scar. But, once you’re on the other side of the surgery, you’ll be eyeing that angry red line wondering how bad it’s going to look come swimsuit season. 

Have no fear! You’ll be showing off your shoulder all summer long after your total shoulder replacement. Just follow these scar care tips after your total shoulder replacement.

What is Scar Tissue and How Does It Form?

The average shoulder replacement surgery leaves behind a six-inch scar. Unless you’re ready to try out a new tough-guy persona, you probably want to minimize it as much as possible. 

To properly care for them, it’s important to understand two things about scars. First, what is scar tissue? And second, how does it form?

What is Scar Tissue?

After an injury or surgery, your body uses cells and collagen to cover the wound and heal it quickly. This mix of cells and collagen and any inflammation caused by the trauma of surgery becomes scar tissue. 

Scar tissue differs both in how it looks and feels compared to typical skin. It often feels stiff and itchy. In addition to discomfort, some people feel pain in scar tissue years after the surgery.

How Does Scar Tissue Form?

Inflammation, or swelling, in the tissue of the surgery site is typical. Treatment of the inflammation determines how your incision will heal.

A thick, white, raised scar often forms as an incision site heals. These superficial scars are called hypertrophic scars. Without proper care, a keloid can also develop. A keloid happens when collagen builds up in the area, making the scar tissue larger and puffier in appearance. 

If you’re young and healthy, you might be thinking you don’t need to worry as much about scars. Think again! People under thirty tend to develop larger, more visible scars due to “over-healing”. 

Sounds kinda unsightly, right? Don’t worry! Follow these tips to keep this from happening to your post-shoulder replacement surgery scar.

Tips to Care for your Scar After a Shoulder Replacement

I’m sure your surgeon will have plenty of tips on how to care for your incision, but there is no such thing as being over-prepared when it comes to shoulder replacement surgery. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations, but these tips should help, too!

Scar treatment starts with correct care of the incision first. Make sure when you get home after surgery, you: 

  • Change your bandages daily.
  • If your incision has a strip of tape or skin adhesive on it, leave it alone! It will come off when it’s done doing its job. 
  • If your doctor used staples or stitches to close the incision, follow up with them about removal. They’ll tell you when it’s time. 
  • Use warm water to clean the incision every day. Gently pat it dry after your done, don’t rub! 
  • Don’t submerge your incision in water for at least 2 weeks after surgery. That means no swimming or baths for a bit.

Tips to Speed Up Healing Surgical Scars

It’s no question… a shoulder replacement will lead to a scar once the incision is healed. The way you treat this scar often determines its severity. You might think you’re done caring for your scar once the incision has healed, but scars continue to form and grow 12 to 18 months after the incision has healed.

Scar Massage

Scar Massage

Massaging your scar has many benefits, but there are some things you need to know first.

When can I start massaging my scar?

You should start massaging your scar around 2 weeks post-surgery. It’s important to wait until all stitches or staples have been removed. You also need to wait until all the scabbing has fallen off.

How should I massage my scar?

  • Using the tips of your fingers, massage your scar in all directions for about 10 minutes. 
  • Put as much pressure as you can handle. 
  • Repeat 2-3 times a day for six months. 
  • If you experience any redness or bleeding in your scar, stop and contact your doctor.

How to Massage a Scar

Stay Hydrated

While you should always drink enough water, that’s not exactly what we mean here. Newly formed scars tend to “leak” water more excessively than pre-existing skin. This sends a message to your body. That message is basically, “Oh no! A leak! Plug the hole!” Your body then proceeds to send more and more collagen to the area to fix the problem. 

If you recall from earlier in the article, excess collagen leads to bigger, uglier scars. That’s why it’s important to keep any healing wound hydrated. Silicone gel and strips can help do that. More on those in a bit!

Products to Help with Scar Tissue

You’ve got the basics, now let’s talk specifics. Specifically, these awesome products that can save you from an unsightly scar after your shoulder replacement surgery.

Scar Away CreamThis is a 100% medical-grade silicone gel. It treats and prevents hypertrophic and keloid scars and could not be easier to use. Its roll-on design allows for convenient and clean application. Use it for 60-90 days as part of your scar treatment for best results. 

Aroamas Professional Silicone Scar Removal Sheets

Aroamas Silicone stripsThese medical-grade silicone sheets are clinically proven to improve the color, texture, size, and overall appearance of hypertrophic and keloid scars from surgeries just like yours. These can even be used to soften old scars, making them more pliable. They are even washable and reusable for up to two weeks!

Mederma Advanced Scar Gel

Mederma Scar gelMederma is the #1 scar care brand, and this once daily scar gel will not disappoint. It’s clinically proven to improve the overall color, texture, and appearance of scars, both old and new.

RENPHO Rechargeable Hand Held Deep Tissue Massager

Renpho Rechargeable massagerThis rechargeable and portable massager has the perfect-sized handle to help you reach your shoulder replacement scar. It has interchangeable heads so you can find the one that works for you.

What to Avoid With Scar Tissue

Getting it in Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight will cause scars to permanently darken, resulting in a much more visible scar. Keep your scar covered as much as possible. You can start applying sunscreen to your scar about two weeks after it has healed.

Getting it Wet Before it’s Ready

You’ll need to keep your incision completely dry for 24-48 hours. Your doctor will let you know when it’s okay to shower. Getting your incision wet too soon could increase your risk of infection. 

It’s also important to avoid soaking stitches, so even after this initial period, you’ll need to refrain from swimming or taking baths.

Being too Aggressive with Scar Massage

When you massage your scar, make sure you’re not applying too much pressure. Too much pressure can do more harm than good. You should start gently and increase pressure gradually. You’ll be able to tell what feels right.

Scar Care is an Important Part of Recovery

Once you’ve had a successful shoulder replacement surgery, the last thing you want is a constant reminder of all the pain and discomfort you had to go through. Scars can easily become those reminders if you let them. But, with proper care, your scar will be just a barely-there line you hardly ever notice. 


Works Referenced:,be%20reduced%20in%20the%20future.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is for educational purposes only. This is not a substitute for a medical appointment. Please refer to your physician before starting any exercise program.