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Scar tissue can have a big effect on the health of your joints, athletic performance, and everyday life. If you’ve had success using your massage gun for other areas of health and wellness, you might be wondering if you can use a massage gun for scar tissue.
Based on our research and experience, the answer is a little bit complicated. While massage guns can’t be used to break up scar tissue directly, they can be helpful for managing problems caused by scar tissue.
Whether you’re a competitive athlete or recovering from an injury, knowing how to manage scar tissue effectively can help keep you healthy for the long term.
Keep reading to learn more about all of the important details to get the most out of using your massage gun for scar tissue.
What is Scar Tissue?
When we talk about scar tissue, we’re referring to fibrous tissue that forms when normal tissue is destroyed by disease, injury, or surgery1.
If you’ve ever had a cut that left a mark on your skin afterwards, then you’re familiar with one of the most common examples of scar tissue for most people.
It’s important to know that your body makes scar tissue when recovering from many different types of injury as part of a normal healing process, including injuries around your muscles and joints.
In fact, I have rarely worked with an adult patient who did not have scar tissue around at least one joint or muscle on their body.
While scar tissue can be a good thing for your body, I’ve found that if there’s too much of it – or if it’s around a sensitive area – it can start to cause problems with joints and muscles. For this reason, many of my patients ask about methods to break down or otherwise eliminate problematic scar tissue.
But can a massage gun break up scar tissue?
How Can A Massage Gun Help with Scar Tissue?
Although there are many products and methods advertised for “breaking up” scar tissue, this is a very difficult goal to achieve without the use of surgery. However, there are some treatments, like massage, that can help you better manage and even reduce scar tissue.
Massage is an approach that has worked for many of my patients because it increases blood flow to the joints and muscles being worked on, which can help your body naturally reduce scar tissue around those areas2.
More importantly, massage can help you feel better (read about all the benefits), which can make you more likely to participate in exercise.
Exercise is especially important for helping newer scar tissue “straighten out” and limiting the formation of new scar tissue.
Since massage guns mimic the effects of massage in a few different ways3,4, we can anticipate some similar benefits with regular use. While this is very difficult to measure, many of my patients report improvements in their scar tissue after consistent self-massage treatments.
I always find it important to reiterate to my patients that no self-massage technique is going to truly “break up” scar tissue safely, which is true for both scar tissue around muscles and joints or scars on your skin.
However, scar tissue can be better managed by safely using the right self-massage techniques.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Using a Massage Gun for Scar Tissue
While you can’t technically use a massage gun to break up scar tissue, you can still get good benefits from using your massage gun properly.
Using Your Massage Gun For Scar Tissue
When it comes to using your massage gun for scar tissue, there are a few things that I would recommend keeping in mind to get the best results while staying safe:
First, be mindful of where you are massaging. For scar tissue on your skin, avoid massaging directly over the scar and instead focus on the surrounding area.
For scar tissue underneath the skin, it’s okay to massage directly over the area, you’ll also want to address the surrounding tissues for best results.
Next, pick the right attachment. Depending on where your scar tissue is located, I recommend switching out your attachment based on how sensitive the scar tissue or surrounding area is.
For example, scar tissue deep in your hamstring might benefit from a hard ball attachment, while scar tissue on the skin of your wrist might do better with a soft or squishy attachment.
Further, keep the head moving. Remember, one of the main goals of self-massage is improving circulation and moving your tissue around.
To do this, I always advise patients to work in small circles around the area, or at the very least alternate between directions and slowly move throughout the massage.
Finally, keep it pain-free. Whether my patients are addressing scar tissue above or below their skin, I always recommend stopping and adjusting massage gun settings if pain is present.
Always remember, don’t try to use your massage gun to break up scar tissue with brute force, as this will only result in pain and discomfort.
In my experience, many patients see better results with relatively painless self-massage that’s performed consistently over time. Slow and steady wins the race!Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS, our Expert Board Member
Now that you have a sense of how a massage gun can help with scar tissue, and how to use it, let’s talk about the best device options on the market today.
Best Massage Gun for Scar Tissue – Choosing The Right Device
Because scar tissue can be present deeper (at joints and muscles) or shallower (on the skin), we recommend devices that are versatile enough to handle either scenario.
In our experience with testing massage guns for a number of purposes, most people will benefit from devices from companies such as Ekrin and Theragun.
Ekrin for Scar Tissue
When it comes to massage guns, very few devices compare to those made by Ekrin Athletics. That’s because they consistently deliver versatile, quality devices that can meet the needs of our readers.
In our experience, vibrational massage guns (low-med amplitude, faster revving) tend to be slightly more effective for a number of uses than punchy, high-amplitude guns.
We think this is especially important to consider if you’re dealing with deep scar tissue because while a deeper punch might sound better at first, you can still get good results by applying more pressure with a device that won’t stall.
For those dealing with scar tissue on their skin, a more vibrational device will be a better option because they feel less aggressive and abrasive – versatility at its best!
In our opinion, Ekrin 365 provides just enough force for deep scar tissue massage while also being gentle enough for use around scar tissue on the skin.
However, we think that more demanding users will find the B37 to be a more potent device for getting to deeper scar tissue on larger body areas.
Put simply, we think that Ekrin makes the best massage gun for scar tissue. To learn more about both of these great devices from Ekrin, check out our comprehensive hands-on reviews:
TIP You can purchase both massage guns with our exclusive 20% discount. Use the code MGA20 during checkout on the official website ekrin.com
Theragun for Scar Tissue
No matter the competition, Theragun (the massage gun product line within Therabody) produces top-tier devices that perform great for almost any situation.
However, they may not be the best choice for certain scenarios – so should you use a Theragun for scar tissue?
In our opinion, high-amplitude devices like Theraguns can work well for deeper scar tissue, but they utilize deeper punches at a lower frequency (fewer percussions per minute). Because of this, we think Theragun devices may be less ideal for scar tissue in more superficial areas or skin.
You might be thinking “does Theragun break up scar tissue?” While higher-end Theragun devices are about as powerful as they come, they still can’t be used to break up scar tissue. Instead, we think that you’ll be better off focusing on a moderate-intensity massage for best results.
Because Theragun devices generally perform great, we can also confirm that these devices are great for getting a quality massage whenever it’s needed.
Of course, for our more demanding users, such as athletes or people with more body mass, the Elite or even Pro will be more a versatile choice to use Theragun for scar tissue – especially deeper scar tissue.
For more details, we encourage you to read the individual reviews of these Theraguns:
Furthermore, when purchasing on the official website therabody.com, you can use the code X8YZF10 to obtain an additional 10% discount.
Theraguns can be purchased using HSA/FSA cards as well, with more details available here.
TIP If budget is an issue, we’ve also reviewed some fantastic Theragun alternatives. For those who need power on a budget, both the Bob and Brad D6 Pro and Achedaway Pro are highly rated, high-amplitude choices that rival the industry-leading Theragun Pro.
Can a massage gun break up scar tissue?
No, a massage gun can’t be used to truly break up scar tissue. This is because scar tissue is incredibly durable and plays an important role in holding the tissues of your body together.
However, a massage gun may be used to help improve blood flow around scar tissue, which may help your body naturally break down scar tissue.
How often should I use a massage gun for scar tissue?
For best results when using a massage gun for scar tissue, aim for daily use. This is because it allows your body enough time to recover from your massage session without causing excessive inflammation around your scar tissue.
For more information, check out our guide on how to use a massage gun correctly and effectively.
Can using a massage gun for scar tissue be painful?
While using a massage gun for scar tissue may be painful, it shouldn’t be. If using your massage gun around scar tissue is painful, we recommend stopping and adjusting your settings or attachment. If pain persists, talk to a licensed healthcare professional.
Are there any risks associated with using a massage gun for scar tissue?
While massage guns are generally safe, there are some risks when using a massage gun for scar tissue. These include increased pain, numbness, skin reactions or rash, and swelling. If you experience any of these symptoms, we recommend talking to your doctor.
Is it possible to make scar tissue worse by using a massage gun?
While scar tissue typically requires large amounts of repetitive stress or injury to create, it can be made worse if a massage gun is used incorrectly on scar tissue. In order to prevent this from happening, we recommend making sure that your massage is comfortable and pain-free.
How long does it take to see results from using a massage gun for scar tissue?
When using a massage gun for scar tissue, it’s possible to see improvements in your comfort and mobility immediately. However, it may take several weeks or months for scar tissue to be naturally reduced by your body, and overall results will vary between people.
Are there any specific massage gun techniques that are best for scar tissue?
How you use your massage gun can make a big difference in managing your scar tissue. For deeper scar tissue, we recommend using a higher-amplitude device and applying deep pressure within your pain tolerance. For scar tissue on the skin, it’s important to use a more gentle device and avoid massaging directly over the scar tissue.
When it comes to scar tissue, treatments like self-massage can make a big difference in your comfort, performance, and long-term health.
While we want to reiterate that you can’t break up scar tissue with brute force, you can still see improvements in both deep and superficial scar tissue with regular use of the right device.
Based on the scores of devices we’ve tested, we think Ekrin and Theragun (both links direct to official model comparison pages) offer some of the best options that offer versatility for almost any use, including managing your scar tissue.
If you have experience using your massage gun for scar tissue, we want to hear about it! Let us know in the comments or send us a message.
Thanks for reading!
- 1.National Cancer Institute. Definition of scar tissue. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/scar-tissue
- 2.Deflorin C, Hohenauer E, Stoop R, van D, Clijsen R, Taeymans J. Physical Management of Scar Tissue: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med. 2020;26(10):854-865. doi:10.1089/acm.2020.0109
- 3.Konrad A, Glashüttner C, Reiner M, Bernsteiner D, Tilp M. The Acute Effects of a Percussive Massage Treatment with a Hypervolt Device on Plantar Flexor Muscles’ Range of Motion and Performance. J Sports Sci Med. 2020;19(4):690-694. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/33239942
- 4.Imtiyaz S, Veqar Z, Shareef M. To Compare the Effect of Vibration Therapy and Massage in Prevention of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(1):133-136. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/7294.3971
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Here's a quick rundown of all the tweaks and edits we've made to this article to keep it accurate and up-to-date!
November 7, 2023 External linking correction. (By: Greg)
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Dr. Alex Stone, DPT, CSCS
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