7 ways massage will improve the patient experience | Plastic Surgery Practice August 2014

victoria EriksonBy Victoria Erickson

There’s no denying the power of bodywork. We all know it feels unquestionably great in the most relaxing, pampering, and rejuvenating ways. Yet, these days, we no longer see this 4,000-year-old traditional healing practice as an easy 1-hour vacation offered in only local salons, health clubs, and resort spas. Massage therapy has taken the medical world by storm, showing up everywhere, from nursing homes to hospitals to dental offices to physical therapy suites—even airports are getting in on the game. Every day, more and more health professionals are adding massage therapists to their teams, all in agreement on the powerful role in overall wellness massage plays within any medical space.

If you were to offer massage as an additional help to patients, how would your practice benefit? Here are some more tried-and-true reasons as to why adding massage therapy to your practice would greatly improve the patient experience.

1. It’s extremely beneficial for stress.

Touch alone will instantly induce a greater sense of well-being and ease by improving your patient’s coping mechanisms, lowering the heart rate, and reducing both the cortisol levels and blood pressure. Allowing the body to naturally settle back into a state of relaxation will make the sometimes-stressful road to recovery a far easier journey for your patients, also leaving them happier overall throughout the entire healing process.

“Massage can have a significant and profound effect on psychological health by reducing cortisol, all while increasing serotonin and dopamine levels.”

2. It’s excellent pain management.

With the increased amount of endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine levels, and additionally decreased inflammation, massage will naturally elevate patients’ moods as well as ease their pain as early as 5 minutes into their first session.

3. It prevents scar tissue and reduces fibrosis.

Every patient scars differently depending on their skin type, size of incision, and actual surgery itself, and we know that those risk factors cannot be changed. However, massaging the stiff incision area after the wound has closed and any staples or sutures have been removed is extremely beneficial in breaking up any adhesions, as well as minimizing the development of scar tissue.

4. It can help prevent infection.

Lymphatic Drainage is a type of massage where the therapist identifies the rhythm, direction, and quality of lymph, then efficiently palpates the area while finding alternate pathways for drainage. This type of therapy prevents hazardous and infectious material from forming due to stagnant lymph.

5. It reduces any bruising.

Massage stimulates everything, and when cells in the lymph move faster, the patient’s bruises will heal in just a fraction of the time. This, of course, will allow patients to confidently resume normal activity in public earlier than they normally can.

6. You’ll be keeping up with the times.

Educated potential patients are well aware of the current trends in conventional medicine, and most will ask for alternative therapies as part of their long-term treatment, wellness, and recovery plan.

7. It lifts the spirits.

Depression can be quite common after any cosmetic or plastic surgery procedure due to a multitude of concerns from discomforting recovery appearances, physical pain, a lack of social support, or emotional letdown. Massage can have a significant and profound effect on psychological health by reducing cortisol, all while increasing serotonin and dopamine levels. The patient’s mood will inevitably stabilize, and the body will move into the parasympathetic nervous system and relaxation response, which, of course, is where the body’s healing and restoration take place.

Adding massage therapy to your office is quite simple, because all you really need is the right space and therapist. The space can be as small as a 7- by 10-foot room that ensures there will be just enough room for a massage table and a movable stool or chair. When finding a therapist, make sure your new-hire is both a state licensed and experienced practitioner with excellent references and up-to-date continuing education credits.

With all of the benefits of massage therapy, it’s understandable why the modality is growing in interest so quickly. Yet aside from the trends, we should remember why our patients choose us to begin with: to feel better. By adding massage to your practice, your patients will not only look better, but will also feel better within their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Victoria Erickson is an Austin, Tex-based writer and editor. She is also an aesthetician, Reiki practitioner, board-certified massage therapist, and soon-to-be yoga teacher. She can be reached via [email protected].

Original citation for this article: Erickson V. Helping hands. Plastic Surgery Practice. 2014;(8),18-19.