Scar tissue is not your friend. It is initially helpful as a protection to prevent further tissue damage, however it is eventually as desirable as gum in your hair.
There are 2 ways that scar tissue usually shows up, acute injury or chronic injury. Acute injury is when there is a specific impact or event like a car accident, surgery or muscle tear in a specific area of the body. Chronic injury is when small or micro-trauma builds over time from muscle imbalances, joint dysfunction or lack of oxygen/circulation.
Today, I’m just talking about scar tissue from acute injuries…which eventually build into chronic injuries, but it’s complicated. As a Massage Therapist, I’ve been lucky enough to specialize in pre and post rehabilitation bodywork so I’ve seen many scars from hip replacements to face lifts. I even have my own scars and I’ve been my best guinea pig.
My second child was delivered by c-section and my doctor mentioned a few tips to keep my scar clean and healthy, but the knowledge was only skin deep (pun intended). I researched online about caring for my scar and I found plenty of knowledge for the aesthetics of the scar, like the billions of scar creams out there, but not too much for the internal care of what was happening deeper. Having worked on many scars, I was comfortable with working on my own scar and the tissues beneath but not everyone is. It really helps to understand a little about anatomy and the layers of tissue affected.
Advice in detail…
I eventually found a great article by Lynn Leech Massage Your C-Section Scar that emphasizes the importance of massaging your scar (c-section or otherwise!) whether right after your surgery or years later. The article is PACKED with information and is quite technical. I reposted it on my private practice blog and didn’t realize how many women had complications until the comments began to flood in.
The simple version…
Common Sense Disclaimer: This advice is online advice, I do not have the luxury of knowing every body and every situation. I’m happy to answer questions when I can through email.
THE LAYERS – In a nutshell, the layers of the abdomen are like a layer cake. The skin, fat, fascia, muscle layers (4!), peritoneum and finally organs. That’s a lot of layers and every layer needs attention.
THE GUM – Scar Tissue forms in an unorganized way and left alone, grows a little like mold, ew right? Scar tissue in muscle or fascia is a bit like putting gum in guitar strings, initially it connects everything so no further tearing occurs, but the “mass” eventually binds so much that if I just wanted to pluck just one guitar string, the whole group moves with it. This is the reason people are prone to multiple muscle strains or tears in the same-ish spot.
THE SOLUTION – Increasing circulation with massage will help your body heal the layers of tissue. When done as soon as possible after the surgery (once the scar closes), results are quicker however, you will feel benefits even if it’s been years.
At the very least, gently massaging your entire belly from lower ribs to pubic bone in all directions will provide some benefits. From there, working on yourself is up to your comfort level. PLEASE PROGRESS SLOWLY.
SIGNS OF PROBLEMS – If you’ve been rooting around your scar and all the layers, it is normal to have some soreness. Soreness that lasts longer than 3 days or sharp pain and redness is NOT normal and you should talk to your doctor.
Like I mentioned, this is the simple version to bring awareness to the benefits of massing your scars. If you would like more information or need help finding a qualified therapist in your area, please contact me through my “Contact Us” page or comment below.