“Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign that you had healed.”
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Scars are a marker of wounds, a tale of hurt, a representor of pain, but they can signify strength, growth, healing, and a lust for life. No matter how the scar came to be or what it means to you, there are good scars and there are not so good scars; this is true across all modalities, but Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at scars in a slightly different way.
Our bodies are filled with vital substances: Qi, Blood, and Body Fluid. When an incision is made for surgery or a scrape, cut, or burn occurs on the skin, the smooth flow of these substances is interrupted. It is important to pay close attention to the healed state of the wound so that the movement, particularly of Qi, resumes in an effortless manner. If the scar is left uncared for and heals in not an ideal way, symptoms may start to occur throughout the body as a result. For example, I had a client that was a fitness instructor, very fit and active himself, but had unexplained digestive issues. After our intake I realized that he had a significant scar cutting across his Stomach meridian (the pathway that Qi flows along influences the stomach organ and digestive system). After a few sessions of treating this scar with acupuncture, his digestion was better than it had been in years!
A good scar should be flat, and soft. There should not be any tightness, ropiness, or lumps. When you touch the scar you should feel the touch in a normal way with no numbness, tingling, pain, or discomfort. The colour may vary, but in general should be close to your natural skin colour, it should not be red or purple. Get to know your scar and don’t be afraid to touch it and take note of how it feels as well as track of any changes.
You can treat your own scar at home. Start by assessing your scar and take either mental or physical notes or how it feels, do this before and/or after each treatment. The easiest way to treat your scar is with self-massage. Find your favorite body oil or coconut oil and slowly rub this on and around the scar. Next, spend a minute lightly rubbing along and across the scar. To finish, start from the middle of the scar and massage lightly out to the ends of the scar.
In my practice, I treat scars with a combination of acupuncture and cupping and I have seen amazing transformations using these both! As with treating other problems with this combination, acupuncture treats underlying issues and supports the system from deep within the body. Cupping starts to transform the scar from the surface with its gentle, yet powerful vacuum action. The result is incredible, and the best part is that this treatment is just as successful on very old scars as it is on new scars!
After treatment, some scars can become so light and faded that they are barely visible, but they are still there. A scar will always be with us, and so it should. They can be viewed as markers of significant events in our lives whether they point to fun times or hard times, they are your times and your memories and they always signify healing.