C-Section Recovery: Scar Tissue Massage
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"C-Section Recovery Toolkit"
“To all women who have brought life into the world, to their courage and power. Thank you all.”
-Jane Claire, “C-Section Guide: A Handbook to be Informed, Empowered, Pro-Active”
A c-section is two very important things. First of all, it is birth. C-section birth is also major surgery which requires rehabilitation. Education and support is often lacking around awareness of the potential post-surgery complications. Basic tools for healing and repair beyond “go home and rest” are sorely needed as follow-up to ensure the health and safety of mothers.
C-section surgery cuts through six body layers leaving a scar. The incision cuts the fascia (connective tissue) of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, superficial nerves and disrupts the lymphatic flow. As a result, scar tissue forms along the abdomen and uterus.
If you’ve had a C-section, these signs and symptoms may indicate that you’ve developed the bands of internal scar tissue known as adhesions.
- Generalized pelvic pain or abdominal cramps
- Sense of pain, tugging or pulling in the abdominal area when you bend forward or sideways, while lifting, leaning, reaching or standing up straight
- pain, discomfort, or urgency when urinating
- pain or discomfort with intercourse
- gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation (including IBS)
- low back pain
- pelvic organ prolapse
“If not treated, scar tissue can spread in multiple directions. It can also travel up towards the diaphragm and inhibit breathing”.
How Can You Immediately Address Healing After C-Section?
- rest and recovery
- avoid doing too much, too soon
- keep your incision clean
- avoid lifting anything heavy
- eat well to support healing
Scar Tissue Massage as Medicine
With physician clearance post c-section, women can generally begin scar massage at 6-8 weeks postpartum. Or seek a qualified massage therapist such as myself or physical therapist. Gentle, consistent massage for as little as 5 minutes per day is effective. It involves massaging the scar tissue so it becomes softer and more pliable using “three dimensional focus, slowly and gently separating the adhered tissues in all directions.”
Some women don’t want to look at or touch their scar because of pain or numbness. Everyone has different responses; there may be little to no pain, a burning sensation, pain, or emotional release which can include feeling sad, angry, or incredible relief, crying, laughing or any combination of emotions.
Benefits of Scar Tissue Massage
- softens tissues
- increases circulation
- lightens color of the c-section scar
- reduces “pooch” if caused by fluids trapped by the dam of scar tissue creates a flat, smooth scar
- stimulates the nerve endings
- reduces/eliminates numbness
- increases circulation
- improve body awareness
- reduce lumps and chords which may contribute to complications from adhesions (see list above)
Initially, hold below your scar to avoid it opening. The actual scar is much deeper down than what you can see and feel. Focus on gentle, deep breaths into your belly to help relax the muscle and skin tissues and the nervous system. After you massage for a long time, the scar softens and you can penetrate the abdomen more deeply and help dissolve the deeper levels. To prevent keloids, apply silica strips or gel which will help with discoloration and scar texture on the surface.