- The scar heals down to the fascia of the lower abdomen. It almost forms a valley where the incision was made
- Some women might also deal with a thickened scar, as well as redness and itchiness, which may need to be addressed
- After a scar revision, the patient may experience some swelling, most of which will decrease within the first three weeks post-surgery
More and more women are undergoing C-sections as a method of giving birth, and all are left with a scar as a reminder. While some scars can often heal quite well and be barely visible, some new mothers may lean towards seeking surgical correction.
According to Dr. Derek Ford of Ford Plastic Surgery based in Toronto, the most common issue that arises after a woman goes through a C-section is having a depressed scar.
“Sometimes after having a C-section, the scar heals down to the fascia of the lower abdomen. It almost forms a valley where the incision was made,” said Dr. Ford. “That could be problematic, especially given that the skin above the incision doesn’t have the same elasticity often after having kids. It tends to spill over that valley and leave an indent in that area.”
Dr. Ford explained that this can be a concern for women cosmetically and can bring discomfort. Some women might also deal with a thickened scar, as well as redness and itchiness, which may need to be addressed. While a C-section scar is usually located horizontally below the belly, under certain circumstances, a vertical scar may need to be placed instead, which is more visible. While a scar cannot be removed, there are two options available for someone who is looking to improve it’s appearance.
The simplest option is to undergo scar revision. While under general anaesthesia, the existing scar and its attachments to muscles underneath are removed, followed by sewing up the skin again. This procedure is meant to have the new scar heal differently and to no longer be depressed. For someone who has a vertical scar, however, Dr. Ford stated that a scar revision would not provide much of an improved result, and will need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
After a scar revision, the patient may experience some swelling, most of which will decrease within the first three weeks post-surgery. Normal activities can be resumed after two weeks while heavy activity should be placed on hold for six weeks. Dr. Ford mentioned that 15 per cent of the swelling will take more time to subside, lasting several months.
For eligible women, a tummy tuck can sometimes be the best option for improving the scar’s appearance. A tummy tuck can also remove a vertical scar and make it horizontal.
“You excise the scar and extend the scar out, and lift the skin off the muscles above the scar. Then you re-advance all the tissues downwards and excise some of the excess skin that spills over the depression, and close it,” explained Dr. Ford.
After a tummy tuck, patients can expect to have minimal energy for up to three weeks. Dr. Ford recommends restricting heavy activity for six weeks until scar tissue is stronger. During this time, a garment or compression guard is worn underneath clothing to minimize swelling.
“Ultimately, all the swelling will take a year to go away, especially right above the incision. But in most circumstances, one would get a fairly good idea where things will end up around the six-month mark,” said Dr. Ford.
There are several potential risks associated with both types of procedures, according to Dr. Ford, including excessive bleeding, infection, numbness of the skin above the incision, which can be permanent, pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lungs), which is rare, and seroma (fluid accumulation in tissue). Some patients may experience asymmetry in the new scar or unsatisfactory results.
Even with the swelling, results are noticed immediately post-surgery. Dr. Ford explained that the depressed scar should be flat and no longer indented, but if the scar being red or raised is an issue, then steroid injections or silicone strips may need to be applied.
Dr. Ford mentioned that scars go through a period of transition and maturation, and they can often improve in appearance, even without intervention. He emphasized giving the scar some time to heal before deciding to undergo revision surgery.
“If the scar is still early on after pregnancy, then usually we suggest waiting for a period of a year or even a year and a half for the scar to mature,” said Dr. Ford, recommending non-surgical alternatives such as applying moisturizers and oils onto the scar to help it heal and flatten.
After a year, as a last alternative, steroid injections may be applied. If following these steps does not help and the scar is still an issue, surgery becomes a plausible option.
Deep Body Media Corp.