Date of Award


Degree Name

Masters of Science (Research)

Schools and Centres


First Supervisor

Associate Professor Dale Edgar

Second Supervisor

Mrs Susan Kohut


This research program investigated the use of acupuncture intervention as an adjunct for hypertrophic scar (HTS) management. Mechanistic evidence from ex vivo and animal studies suggests that acupuncture has the potential to modulate neurogenic inflammation to influence pain and itch associated with HTS. Further, acupuncture may mediate non-neuronal cells involved in the proliferation and remodelling stage of healing to promote scar maturation. Previous studies using acupuncture for scar management demonstrated positive outcomes, however low-quality clinical trials and case studies provide limited evidence for treatment benefit.

A treatment protocol was designed to investigate the effects of locally applied acupuncture compared to distant acupuncture, combined with routine care scar massage therapy. The protocol was tested for feasibility on one participant with scarring post-burn injury and demonstrated reduced pain, and improved scar physical characteristics. Results from expanded testing of the research protocol in participants with surgical or linear scars are presented as a case series. Outcomes from the case series show improvement in scar symptoms for most participants, however no clear difference was seen between local and distant acupuncture outcomes. Finally, data analysis suggested one sub-group of hypersensitive participants (with high initial scores for both pain and itch) responded to acupuncture intervention possibly providing insight into treatment mechanisms and adding weight to recommendations for future research and clinical practice.