For the five percent where c-sections are actually life saving, many women do not realize the long term effects of having a c-section. As with any surgery, scar tissue builds up at the sight of incision. In the case of c-sections, it builds up in the uterus and underneath the incision of the lower abdomen. But it does not stop there.
Scar tissue is fibrous tissue that replaces normal tissue after surgery or an injury. The quality of this scar tissue is not as pliable as normal collagen in your body. It is actually harder and difficult to manage if not taken care of by a physical therapist right away. The main issue is that we cannot see the scar tissue that builds underneath the skin so if it is out of sight, it is out of mind.
Here are some possibilities in what can happen after a c-section:
- If you plan on having more children, scar tissue that builds up in the uterus can cause issues to how and where the placenta attaches. It can be dangerous in some cases.
- The location of the incision is in an area where they can entrap a nerve that also innervates the urethra. This causes pain when using the bathroom and even post operation, can increase the urgency, frequency and even burn when using the bathroom.
- In subsequent pregnancies, the location of the incision can be an issue in round ligament pain.
- If scar tissue is not managed it can spread and attach to other organs such as the colon causing problems when passing one's bowels.
While many are just fine with not pushing their babies out, having a c-section has its own set of problems, especially later in a women's life.
What can you do to prevent scar tissue from building?
Not much since it begins forming once the incision is closed, but when you are ready after the c-section, being with light massaging with some shea butter on the incision. This can help minimize scarring and help begin the blood flow beneath the skin to alleviate scar tissue from building up.
What if I had my children and am done? Is it too late to manage the scar tissue?
No it is not too late. If you are experiencing any of the pain above, then go see a physical therapist that specializes in women's health. Though any woman who has had a c-section should go see a physical therapist for treatments.
What will happen in my sessions?
Physical therapists will ask you a series of questions. They will begin massaging, pulling, pushing around to feel for it and begin the deep pressure movements to start breaking up the tissue.
Will it hurt?
Speaking from experience, yes it does, but you can also tell things are shifting in the lower abdomen. The reason for the pain is the lack of blood flow to that region of the body. When you release the scar tissue, blood can begin flowing properly and begin healing so the scar tissue can begin working like normal in the body.
It does not stop there, scar tissue management must be continued at home and the physical therapist will show you techniques that are easy and begin your path to recovery.
If you have had a c-section be sure to talk to your doctor at your 6 or 8 week check up about being referred to a women's health physical therapist.
For more info on scar tissue management, go to Pregnancy.org