ScarWork is a form of treatment developed by an American bodyworker named Sharon Wheeler designed to work specifically on scar tissue arising from surgery or traumatic injury. Her work is now being taught to experienced bodyworkers outside the US. There are relatively few trained practitioners in the UK at present but this number is growing.

Many people have scars from operations such as mastectomies, caesarean sections, joint replacements and other surgeries as well as from traumatic injuries such as burns. These scars can be the source of a number of problems which can often affect activities of daily living.

With mastectomies, for example, scars may be painful and uneven, while further problems may develop with axillary web syndrome or cording. The overall result of all these is restricted movement and loss of function e.g. reduced movement of the shoulder and arm on the affected side due to pain and lack of confidence.

ScarWork is a very gentle treatment with many of the techniques incorporating delicate light work which improves the quality of tissue. It should not feel painful but may give mild sensation without pain. The aim is to integrate scar tissue into the fascial web (fascia in the body is like a web of tissue which surrounds and runs through muscles, bones, tendons , ligaments, organs). Scar tissue should be seen not as something to be ‘broken down’ or ‘got rid of’ but is valuable material that needs to be freed up and integrated back into that web. Scar tissue quality is capable of changing quite quickly. Lumps, bumps, gaps, ridges, holes, knots and strings in the tissue can become smoother and this can often be felt after just one session.

Gentle work on new scars seems to speed up the healing for a little while right after the work, while even older scars often show further improvement right after the work. Small changes in scar tissue accumulate and the improvements appear to be permanent and assist in better integration and function.

Scar before treatment

Scar after treatment – see how the surrounding tissue looks more “plumped up” and the scar appears less raised