Managing your C-section scar

Have you had a Caesarian birth and still feel tugging or pulling at your scar even years later?

While many women do not feel their scars once they’re healed, some women feel sensitivity and restriction with movement around their scars. Before an incision, all the fibers of a tissue are arranged in the same orientation that allow for gliding between layer surfaces. When an incision happens, the body lays down fibers as fast as it can, often not in the same orientation. The result? Tissues get bound together, restricting the normal gliding of layers of tissues. Some women experience this as tightness, pulling, or catching with certain movements. 

In a Caesarian delivery, the doctors cut through skin, fat, fascia (connective tissue that runs over pretty much every surface in our insides), multiple layers of abdominal muscles, and the uterus. That’s a LOT of layers to get through to get your baby out! Afterwards, all those tissues need to get stitched back together layer by layer. The result is usually a small scar above the pubic bone.

The way to get the scars moving again is to try some self-mobilization of your scar. You can start this as soon as the incision is fully closed (steri-strips have fallen off and the scabs have healed). The trick in the beginning is to be gentle. You should feel mild pulling as you work, but nothing should be painful. If you can’t tolerate working directly on the scar itself initially, you can use these techniques to the tissues next to the scar. Try the following techniques:

Desensitization: This works on scars that are very sensitive to touch. If this is your scar, use a dry hand towel or wash cloth to rub gently over the scar. This gives the nerves non-threatening input, which will help make them less sensitive to touch over time.

Push and pull: Place 2 fingers side by side directly on the scar. Gently and slowly pull the scar up and down and side to side. If you feel a sense of pulling, hold the pressure steady for about 1-2 minutes until the sensation subsides. Then find another direction or another place on the scar and repeat.

Plucking: Gently pinch the scar between your forefinger and thumb and attempt to pick it up, away from the underlying tissues. When lifted, try moving it side to side or up and down.

Skin rolling: Gently pinch the scar between your forefinger and thumb. Roll the tissue gently between your fingers along the length of the scar. If your scar lifts with you, it’s generally free and does not need to be worked on; however, if it dimples instead of raises, work on that area for a few minutes.

Generally, I suggest not using lotion/oil, since the friction of the tissues against each other is what helps separate the layers. However, if you can’t tolerate moving the scar without lotion, use but sparingly. Over time, you should notice that your scar is more flexible, less red, less raised, and doesn’t pull the way it used to.

If you have difficulty with any of these techniques, feel free to reach out to us. Getting an assessment of your scar can help you target what part(s) of your scar could benefit from which techniques the most.

By the way, these techniques can be used for any type of scar, surgical or not!

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