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Acupuncture for Scar Therapy

By Jody Braverman ; Updated July 18, 2017

Scars can be unsightly and a constant reminder of painful accidents or surgeries. Cosmetic treatments are often costly and time consuming, sometimes requiring invasive surgery and long recovery times. Acupuncture is increasingly being sought in the West to treat a range of illnesses, symptoms and conditions, including the treatment of scars, especially those that are painful or the cause of other dysfunction in the body.

Scars Explained

Whenever there is a rupture, tear or purposeful cut of the upper, middle or lower layers of the epidermis, the skin must undergo cellular renewal to repair the damaged area. In many cases, the new skin is not formed perfectly and leads to scarring. Scarring can be caused by a number of events, and the type and severity of the scar depend on the size of the original wound, the manner in which it was inflicted, the ability of the individual's body to heal, the direction of the scar and other various factors.

How Acupuncture Works

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medical treatment that uses tiny needles inserted at specific points on the skin to treat pain and illness anywhere in the body. It relies on the belief that blockages of "qi," or energy, flow along the body's meridians--channels of energy or blood flow--create illness and pain and that these blockages need to be removed to treat and relieve the condition. In the treatment of scars, the insertion of the needles also elicits the body's healing response.

When to Seek Treatment

Many scars are annoying for simply cosmetic reasons. However, some scars can cause pain and lead to other dysfunction in the body and therefore need to be treated. If you have a scar anywhere on the body that is painful to the touch, this could indicate interrupted blood flow, or qi, at the site and should be inspected and possibly treated. It is especially important to seek treatment for scars on the face, neck, scalp, back and abdomen because there are major meridians in these areas.


Tiny acupuncture needles are inserted at different points along the scar, eliciting a response from the body that increases blood flow to the area, encourages the breakdown of dead skin and scar tissue, and stimulates the lymphatic system so that it can dispose of the dead skin cells. Treatment is gradual, and over time the scar will become less noticeable.


Only scars that are at least a month old should be treated with acupuncture, due to increased risk of infection. The elderly, diabetics, cancer patients and those with neurological disorders require special care when seeking treatment with acupuncture and should go to a reputable provider with experience treating such patients.

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