Mastectomy surgery is a common approach for the treatment of breast cancer. As with any surgery, scar tissue develops as part of the normal healing process. However, with the development of scar tissue, decreased range of motion and pain are often an un-welcomed side effect. Scar tissue can become hyper-sensitive, especially at the drain site after a mastectomy and reconstruction. Maturation of scar tissue typically happens about 3 weeks post-surgery, so early scar tissue intervention will help improve the quality of the scar and decrease pain. So, how can scar tissue be managed?
There are ways to manage the scar tissue and improve function, minimizing and often eliminating pain. Astym (Augmented Soft Tissue Mobilization) is a soft tissue treatment used by certified clinicians. Instruments designed specifically for certain body parts are used to help regenerate tissues and break up adhesions from scar tissue.
Astym can be safely used as early as 3 weeks after surgery, as long as there are no signs of infection, the scar is completely closed and the doctor approves early intervention. The ideal treatment would be 2 days/week, with two days in between sessions, for 2-3 weeks. Treatments will vary case-by case.
Patients who are also receiving radiation will benefit from Astym. Often times after a mastectomy, shoulder range of motion may be limited from scar tissue being produced. Typically for radiation treatment to the breast, the patient needs to have a minimal of 90 degrees of shoulder abduction (raising arm to side). If scarring is preventing the shoulder from abducting, the Astym will help reduce the fibrotic tissue and improve shoulder range of motion in a shorter time, allowing for earlier radiation treatment.
If you are going through breast cancer treatments, know that you can regain function and minimize pain and scarring. At On Point Physical Therapy, physical therapist, Dr. Amanda DeRosa is certified in Astym. This specialized treatment, along with proper stretching can get you back to moving and being pain-free.
To set up your FREE 20 minute consult or to start your treatment plan, call 619-693-8047.