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Tips For Scar Management and Desensitization After C-Section

Also After Hysterectomy and Other Laparoscopic Procedures

After delivery via cesarean section, hysterectomy or other laparoscopic procedure, there will be an incision site that you will have to manage according to the directions of your doctors and nurses to keep the site from becoming infected. Although the incision site will close after about 2-3 weeks, scar tissue will continue to form. It is important to begin scar massage and desensitization techniques to help prevent scar tissue build up, puckering, and ongoing pain.

Managing Scar Tissue

A trained physical therapist can perform soft tissue mobilization and other modalities such as cold laser over the scar site. As a part of your treatment, your therapist will teach you skills to manage the scars at home for the following benefits:

  • Prevent scar tissue build up and puckering of scar site
  • Soften and flatten scar tissue by promoting collagen remodeling
  • Decrease itching
  • Provide moisture and flexibility to the scar
  • Desensitize the scar tissue, reducing pain

Moisturize

Apply lotion to the scar regularly to keep the scar moisturized. You will also use lotion for the scar massage techniques outlined below.

  • Use unscented lotion, do not use heavily perfumed lotions
  • Do not use lotions with artificial dyes or colors
  • Do not use any lotion containing vitamin E for the first month following your surgery or injury. You may use vitamin E containing lotions after the first month.
  • Avoid paraben, glycerine, and lanolin

The following is a list of some examples:

  • Eucerin®
  • Cetaphil®
  • Organic coconut oil

Scar Massage

Once the incision site is closed (usually around 2-3 weeks), you can begin scare tissue massage. Wait until your healthcare provider has removed any sutures/staples (if used) and all scabs have fallen off by themselves. Do not pick at or pull scabs off.

Directions:

  • Apply lotion to fingerpads and scar site.
  • Use the pads or soft tips of your fingers to massage the scar and tissue around the scar.
  • Massage in three directions:
  • Circles: Using two fingers make small circles over the length of the scar and the skin surrounding it.
  • Vertical: Using two fingers massage the scar up-and-down, like an “inchworm”
  • Horizontal: Using two fingers massage the scar from side-to-side, across the grain of the scar.

Pressure

Apply as much pressure as you can tolerate. Begin with light pressure. As you desensitize the scar, apply deeper and firmer pressure. Applying enough pressure to make the scar area lighten in color or turn white.

How Often?

Massage the scar 2-3x daily, for no more than 2 minutes per inch of scar.

You should massage your scars for at least six months following your surgery or injury. Your body will continue to lay down collagen and scar tissue at the site for the rest of your life, with the most tissue formation happening within the first 3-12 months.

Your goal is to make your scar tissue slide just like the skin around it, in all directions. This will result in a pain free scar without restriction.

Contact your doctor if you experience:

  • Redness
  • Bleeding
  • Scar is pussy, yellow, or weeping
  • Scar feels warmer than the skin around it
  • More pain than usual at the site of the scar

Sun Exposure

Avoid sun exposure on the scar site for one year. Sun exposure may cause your scars to become pigmented and turn darker than the surrounding skin. Use sun block or cover with clothing.

See a Therapist

If you have any questions, schedule an appointment with a trained physical therapist to help your incision heal fully.

 

Resources

Moffitt Cancer Center. (2006). Managing your scar. https://moffitt.org/media/1086/managing_your_scar.pdf

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What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

Testimonial by S.S., age 54

Heather is the best! I saw her today for terrible hip/groin pain. I was so impressed with the safety measures in place and felt completely safe . Thanks for the healing hands.

S.S., age 54

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by A.B.

Before I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat I was living in a nightmare. I had been married to my husband for three years and I was suffering from Vaginismus. That all changed when I visited my OBGYN and she said she knew of someone with a great success rate. To be honest I was hesitant at first because my first doctor had already told me that all I needed to do was order dilators from the internet and I should overcome my problem. She was wrong because I had followed the book on how to use the dilators with absolutely no advancements in my condition. However, that all changed when I went in for my first visit and Heather took the time to explain my condition and how we were going to work together to overcome it.

I remember leaving her office with a glimmer of hope that I could live a normal life. As my sessions continued I began to see immediate results. With only four sessions and a strict dedication to my home programs I was cured of Vaginismus. In the beginning of this process I was made aware that my health insurance company might not cover the costs, which was disappointing but today I can say one hundred percent that it was the best money I ever spent. Now thanks to Heather I am finally enjoying my life to the fullest with my husband. Thank you Heather, I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate all that you have done for me. I will never forget it. Those who are suffering from these types of conditions don’t be afraid because she makes you feel so comfortable and the end result is worth it. Good luck to you all and I hope you experience the success I have.
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Testimonial by Jackie W.

I was in multiple car accidents a decade ago, and I have been to many physical therapists through the years without success. They found the root of my lower back pain problems and after nearly a decade of barely being able to walk I finally can again without pain. They are also the best pelvic floor pts and the only ones who found the connection between my pelvic floor and lower back problems. If you need help with physical pain, they are your answer.

-- Jackie W., 1/19/17 via Yelp!

Testimonial by S.P., Age 26

I would like to start off by thanking Heather Jeffcoat for educating me and curing me of Vaginismus. I had been married for almost three years before I was referred to Heather. I never knew about Vaginismus until almost three years into my marriage. I knew something was wrong when I went on my honeymoon and came back a Virgin. I had always imagined how magical my first night would be but boy was I wrong.

Read more: Testimonial by S.P., Age 26

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