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How to Avoid Scar Tissue after Microdiscectomy Surgery


7.5 - How to Avoid Scar Tissue after Microdiscectomy Surgery-min
Microdiscectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed to alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves caused by a herniated or bulging disc. During the operation, a small portion of the damaged disc is removed, relieving the nerve compression and associated pain. While microdiscectomy offers an effective solution for many patients, there is a risk of scar tissue formation during the healing process, which can potentially lead to recurrent symptoms. As you read this article, you will learn some helpful tips for avoiding the formation of scar tissue following microdiscectomy surgery.

The Role of Scar Tissue in Postoperative Recovery

Scar tissue, also known as adhesions, is the body’s natural response to injury or surgery. As the healing process progresses, the body produces collagen fibers to repair the damaged tissue. However, in some cases, excessive scar tissue can form, potentially causing complications and impeding the microdiscectomy recovery process.

Scar tissue formation after microdiscectomy can lead to several challenges, including:

  • Nerve compression – Excessive scar tissue may encapsulate or adhere to the surrounding nerves, causing compression and potentially leading to renewed pain, numbness, or weakness.
  • Limited mobility – Scar tissue can restrict flexibility and range of motion in the affected area, hindering physical therapy and rehabilitation efforts.
  • Recurrent symptoms – In some cases, scar tissue formation can contribute to the recurrence of symptoms, such as back pain or leg pain, necessitating additional treatment or surgery.

Strategies to Minimize Scar Tissue Formation after Microdiscectomy

Prepare for Your Surgery

  • Optimal health and nutrition – Begin your journey to recovery before entering the operating room. Maintaining a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamin C and zinc, can prime your body for healing.
  • Smoking cessation – Smoking hinders blood flow and oxygen delivery, which are crucial for tissue repair. Quitting smoking at least several weeks before surgery can significantly reduce scarring.

Follow Postoperative Instructions Diligently

Adhering to your surgeon’s postoperative instructions is crucial for promoting proper healing and minimizing the risk of excessive scar tissue formation. These instructions may include:

  • Activity restrictions – Your surgeon may recommend limiting certain activities or movements for a specific period to allow the surgical site to heal properly.
  • Medications – Anti-inflammatory medications may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Physical therapy – A carefully designed physical therapy program can increase mobility and prevent excessive scar tissue formation.
  • Proper wound care – Keep the surgical area clean and dry to prevent infection, which can exacerbate scarring. Monitor for signs of infection and report any concerns to your healthcare provider immediately.

Optimize Your Healing Environment

Creating an optimal healing environment can significantly impact the body’s ability to recover efficiently. Consider the following strategies:

  • Rest and relaxation – Adequate rest and stress reduction can promote healing by allowing the body to focus its resources on recovery.
  • Proper nutrition – A well-balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals can support the healing process and tissue repair.
  • Hydration – Staying hydrated can help the body flush out toxins and promote the transport of nutrients to the surgical site.
  • Avoiding sun exposure – Protect the healing area from direct sunlight. UV rays can darken scars, making them more noticeable. Use sunscreen or cover the area when outdoors.

Explore Complementary Therapies

Several complementary therapies may minimize scar tissue formation and support the healing process. However, it is essential to consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating any new treatments:

  • Massage therapy – Gentle massage techniques, once approved by your surgeon, can break up and mobilize scar tissue.
  • Cold therapy – Applying cold compresses or ice packs to the surgical site can reduce inflammation and potentially limit scar tissue formation.
  • Herbal remedies – Some herbal supplements, such as bromelain and turmeric, have anti-inflammatory properties that support healing.
  • Silicone gel sheets – Once the wound has healed, using silicone gel sheets can flatten and soften scars. They provide a protective barrier that hydrates the skin and reduces collagen buildup.
  • Steroid injections – For hypertrophic or keloid scars, steroid injections can reduce size and discomfort. These are typically administered by a healthcare professional.
  • Laser therapy – Laser treatments can improve the appearance of scars by reducing redness and smoothing out the texture. Consult with a dermatologist to determine if this option is suitable for you.

Consider Scar Tissue Release Techniques

In cases where scar tissue formation becomes problematic, your healthcare provider may recommend specific techniques to address the issue:

  • Physical therapy interventions – Specialized stretching, mobilization, and soft tissue release techniques can break up and mobilize scar tissue.
  • Injections – In some cases, injections of steroids or other medications may be administered to reduce inflammation and break down scar tissue.
  • Surgical intervention – In severe cases, a secondary surgical procedure called a scar tissue release or lysis of adhesions may be considered and potentially recommended to remove problematic scar tissue.

Every individual’s recovery process is unique, and the risk of scar tissue formation can vary based on factors such as the extent of the surgery, individual healing capabilities, and underlying health conditions. Maintaining open communication with your healthcare team and strictly adhering to their recommendations is crucial for optimizing your recovery and minimizing the potential impact of scar tissue formation.

Scar tissue forms differently in each individual. Similarly, pain levels and back surgery recovery time vary among microdiscectomy patients and depend on factors such as disc height and the size of the hole left in the outer ring of the disc after surgery. If the hole in the disc is larger than a standard pencil eraser, the patient has a significant risk of experiencing a reherniation. Patients with a large hole in the outer ring of the disc are more than twice as likely to reherniate after surgery. These reherniations often require additional surgery or even a larger spinal fusion operation. Barricaid is a bone-anchored device shown to reduce reherniations by closing the hole in the disc after a discectomy, and 95 percent of Barricaid patients did not undergo a reoperation due to reherniation in a 2-year study timeframe. This treatment is done immediately following the discectomy—during the same operation—and does not require any additional incisions or time in the hospital. 

If you have any questions about the Barricaid treatment or how to get access to Barricaid, you may ask your doctor or contact us directly.

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