Scar therapy is important because as our bodies repair after surgery, scar tissue forms. Not only leaving a visible scar on the skin, but also internally where the surgery has caused trauma. Scar tissue is usually much stronger and more fibrous, but less functional than pre-injury tissue. Scar tissue contains higher levels of collagen, this enables it to stick together, as it is healing.
Caesarean birth compared to other abdominal or pelvic surgeries has important considerations:
I believe these considerations have a big impact on the scar formation pattern and quality compared to other surgeries. The scar can be left feeling tight or have lumpy or hard sections. These can be on the surface or can be felt under the skin. These fibrous internal tissues respond well to scar therapy.
Everyone is individual in their scar healing and recovery and I always discuss when to start therapy with my clients. When to start will also depend on any post-surgical complications such as an infection or the scar opening up during early healing. As an experienced therapist and teacher of scar therapy I have treated women as early as 8 weeks post birth. For some women this would be too early, the area would be too sensitive for any touch and 14-16 weeks would be a better time to start. Sometimes with a new baby it’s hard to get time to prioritise your own needs. You can still get treatment and improve your scar at any time. I have treated women whose children are in their 20’s or 30’s and they have still benefited.
Sometimes a c-section scar can becomes adhered (attached) internally to surrounding tissues. This may not cause any problems for some women. For others the scar will appear to be ‘pulled in’ and create an overhang or ‘pouch’ on the stomach that even diet and exercise seems unable to improve. These scar adhesions may continue to form over many years, especially if inflammation is present.
Adhesions are often a result of surgery. You may have adhesions between your scar and your organs, muscles, ligaments and skin. Scar adhesions may have no symptoms and not cause an issue but for others, they can cause problems. This might be a localised dysfunction impacting the hips or lower back as the joints, fascia or muscles may be impacted. The digestive system might be affected by this internal scar formation. The bladder and reproductive organs may also become impacted by scar tissue adhesions. Symptoms may be varied – frequency of urination, constipation or pain in the muscles or joints – depending on these adhesions.
However small, scar adhesions may restrict movement and put strain on the body with repercussions. It is important to remember the body is not lots of separate elements working independently. We are a whole unit working in unison, damage in one area will have a global, whole body impact. Our bodies are wonderful at coping with injury and will adjust to changes as things happen to us during our lifetime. If you are experiencing a small niggle, ongoing ache or shooting pain, seeking help from a scar therapist ASAP is wise. If you wait too long your body changes and creates an adaptive pattern – which over time may cause further dysfunctions. Early intervention by a scar therapist may minimise these later repercussions, as well as improving your discomfort or pain.
Scar tissue adhesions can often be observed when standing, as the scar will be pulled in and cause an overhang of tissue. Scar therapy treatments are developed to stretch and mobilise these tight and bulky fibers and women often report an improvement.
Many women do not like to touch their scar and may be concerned about allowing someone to touch their scar. When you book a treatment, you will relax on a massage therapy bed, exposing just the area of the scar and immediately around it. Even in the initial sessions, clients can often begin to observe a change, with the area softening and the skin surface feeling smoother. When I am treating a c-section using ScarWork, I am noticing what I can feel under the skin, so if my client has a scar below the public hair line it is irrelevant to me if they have hair around the scar.
Treatment feels like a gentle massage, sometimes as the scar tissue is gently stretched there may be a pulling or stretching sensation. Often feelings of warmth are felt as blood is flushed into the area. Sometimes there is a tingling sensation as nerve endings are stimulated.
Treatment is typically given in a series of sessions. How many treatments are needed is very much an individual decision. I find women without major complications in their scar often attend four to six treatments. However each session should bring incremental improvements so it’s a personal decision to have one or multiple treatments.
Emma Holly is a leading scar therapist and teacher of scar therapy. She has a specialist clinic in Harpenden and Harley Street, London.
At Restore Therapy in Harpenden, Emma has specially selected team of scar therapy practitioners. For c-section treatment, we recommend booking appointments with Emma Holly or Kirsty Birnie, also a highly trained postnatal scar specialist.
You may also be interested in postnatal classes https://centredmums.com/postnatal/