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The Surgeon’s Secret: Massage for Faster Healing After Surgery

So you’ve just gone under the knife, whether for a tummy tuck, facelift, or knee replacement. The pain is starting to subside but the discomfort remains, and you’re wondering when you’ll feel human again. What if I told you there’s a little-known secret that could speed your recovery and get you back on your feet faster? Massage therapy.


That’s right, targeted massage techniques applied within days of surgery can work wonders for your healing body. Many surgeons don’t tell their patients about this option, but post-op massage is gaining recognition for its ability to reduce swelling, ease pain, improve mobility and range of motion. 

The techniques are gentle, designed specifically for post-surgical cases, and the benefits are real. While rest and physical therapy certainly have their place in recovery, massage provides an added boost that gets you up and moving again sooner. Next time you go under, ask about massage – your body will thank you for it.

The Benefits of Massage After Surgery

The days and weeks after surgery can be difficult, but massage therapy can help speed up your recovery and provide some much-needed relief.

reduced swelling and pain.

Massage helps improve circulation, moving fluid away from the surgical site. This reduces inflammation, swelling, and soreness. Gentle massage also releases endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, providing relief from discomfort.

Quicker healing.

Massage stimulates cell regeneration and the production of collagen, helping incisions and wounds heal faster. It also helps break up scar tissue and soften skin, improving mobility and range of motion.

Improved range of motion.

Massage loosens tight muscles and connective tissue, increasing flexibility and mobility. This is especially important after surgeries that impact joints or require limb immobilization. Massage also helps prevent muscle atrophy from lack of use.

Better sleep and mood.

The relaxation effects of massage promote restful sleep, which is essential for recovery. Massage also boosts serotonin levels, lifting your mood and easing feelings of depression or anxiety that often come after surgery.

While you’re still on the mend, stick with lighter massage techniques and avoid direct contact with incisions or wounds. But as soon as your doctor gives you the green light, massage therapy can be an important part of your recovery plan. A few minutes of massage a couple times a week may be all you need to heal faster and get back to living life.

When to Start Post-Surgery Massage Therapy

Once your doctor gives the green light, usually 2 to 3 weeks after surgery, it’s time to start massage therapy. Massage can speed up healing and reduce swelling, scarring, and pain.

When to start

The sooner the better, but you need to wait until your incisions have closed and sutures or staples have been removed. Starting massage too early could damage healing tissues or increase swelling. Check with your doctor, but in general:

  • For minor procedures like mole removal, you can start massage after 1-2 weeks.

  • After a tummy tuck, facelift or other major body contouring, wait 3 weeks.

  • For breast augmentation or reduction, start massage after 4 weeks.

When you do start, go slowly. Begin with just 10-15 minutes a few times a week, and slowly build up as your body adapts. Be extremely gentle around incisions and sensitive areas. If anything causes pain, stop immediately.

How it helps

Massage improves circulation, reducing fluid buildup and speeding the removal of waste products. It helps relax tight muscles and break up scar tissue, preventing tightness, knots and adhesions. Massage also releases endorphins, natural painkillers that reduce discomfort.

Starting massage therapy as directed by your surgeon is one of the kindest things you can do for your recovering body. Be patient through the process, listen to your body, and those incisions and swelling will fade faster than you imagined. Before you know it, you’ll be on the road to being fully healed and loving your new look!

Safe and Effective Post-Op Massage Techniques

Once you’ve healed from surgery, gentle massage techniques can help reduce swelling, relieve pain, and speed up your recovery. The key is to start slow and avoid overdoing it. Here are some safe and effective post-op massage methods to try:

Light stroking

Using your fingertips, gently stroke along the incision site and surrounding area. Apply light pressure and stroke in one direction, away from the incision. This helps move fluid away from the site and reduce swelling.

Gentle kneading

After a few days, you can try some very gentle kneading around the incision site. Use your fingertips to apply light pressure and slowly knead the area. Kneading helps loosen tight muscles and break up scar tissue. Be extremely cautious around the actual incision—you want to avoid direct contact until it’s fully closed and healed.

Drainage massage

To help drain excess fluid, use soft circular motions and light pumping movements. Place your hands a few inches away from the incision site and slowly slide outward using small circular motions, as if gently pushing the fluid away. Repeat for several minutes a few times per day. This technique can significantly reduce swelling and speed healing.

When massaging, go slowly and avoid overdoing it, especially at first. Apply a light layer of massage oil or cream to the area to allow your hands to glide gently over the skin. If at any time you experience pain, stop the massage immediately. It’s best to check with your doctor before starting any massage therapy after surgery to ensure the incision site has healed sufficiently. With their guidance, post-op surgery massage can be an effective way to find relief and speed your recovery.


So there you have it, the secret that surgeons don’t always share but wish their patients knew. Massage therapy isn’t just for relaxation and stress relief. Targeted massage techniques applied at the right time during recovery from surgery can work wonders for your healing. 

Now that you’re in on this insider tip, be sure to ask your doctor when it will be safe to start massage after your procedure. Look for a licensed massage therapist with experience helping post-surgical patients. Start light, go slow, but get those hands on your body as soon as you’re able. Your future self with the minimal scarring and quick return to normal activity will thank you for discovering and using the surgeon’s secret weapon – massage!


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