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C-section scar recovery: How to heal, types of incisions and recovery stories

Section: Labour & Birth
c-section scar

If you've had a C-section or are planning to have one soon, it's a good idea to get clued up on how to look after your skin and scar after the procedure.

It’s advised that you’ll be in hospital at least 48 hours after you have a caesarean section and should take it easy, which includes not driving, for 6 weeks after.

While you’re bed bound in hospital, you’ll have a catheter fitted and this will remain in your bladder for at least 12 hours. After this you will be encouraged to get out of bed and moving as soon as possible, this helps get you on the road to recovery.

Aftercare: how to help your C-section scar heal

  • Once you have your bandage removed you can shower (before this shower around the bandage, which is tricky, we’ve been there). It’s advised to clean and dry the wound every day
  • Don’t use perfumed sprays on or around the wound
  • Wear comfortable clothing, as loose as feels comfortable for you. We wore granny pants that fitted over our scar
  • Take painkillers if the wound is sore, paracetamol should do the trick

Signs to watch out for after a C-section

It’s important to contact your GP straight away if any of these symptoms crop up:

  • You have a fever
  • You get a cough or shortness of breath
  • Scar leaking a discharge of is foul-smelling
  • Watch out for signs of infection; increased redness, swelling or pain
  • Pain while peeing
  • Swelling or pain in your lower leg
  • Heavy vaginal bleeding

The type of incision and scar lines

  • The scar you’ll mostly likely see is after a horizontal incision, about 10-20cm long, just below your bikini line
  • Rare case scenarios mean a scar will look vertical and appear just below your belly button

Q&A with Dr McGeorge, Founder of Science of Skin

We asked Douglas McGeorge, Founder of Science of Skin and one of the leading surgeons in the UK, all your cesarean scar-related questions, giving you more headspace for your little one! 

1) I had a C-section last week. There is an 'apron' of loose, saggy tummy skin hanging over the top: is this permanent? 

The 'apron' of skin will go in time. It will shrink down, it may not completely settle for everyone but allow lots of time for the tissues to get back to normal and heal. In regards to hygiene, bathe very carefully using non-perfumed products.

2) How long will my cesarean scar hurt for? 

cesarean scarMost scars should stop hurting around the six-month mark. Sometimes if there has been nerve damage it can take longer for the body to heal. Massage helps to stop the pain from nerve damage and if your scar is still very sore and red - Solution for Scars has been designed and developed to treat symptomatic scars that are sore and uncomfortable - so that might help as well.

3) The area still feels numb, will this feeling eventually go away?

This is something that unfortunately can occur with a C-section. The 'numb' sensation will continue to improve over the first year and the quality can improve for another year. Sometimes, however, it may never recover fully, but usually, protective sensation will return. Massage can help any discomfort and pain as the tissues settle back down.

4) What can I do to make my C-section scar heal quickly?

Scar management is really important to get the very best possible result from your scar. When your wound has fully closed and stitches have been removed start to gently massage in a scar treatment like Solution for Scars. This has been specifically designed to be used from the moment your scar is still red, pink, irritable and sore. It contains very effective but gentle green tea extracts that work to reduce redness and irritation and therefore stop you itching or disturbing your wound as it heals - giving you the very best chance of achieving a less noticeable scar from your C-section.

5) My C-section scar opened up a bit during healing and is now a bit of a lump, help!

Massage again will help this to smooth out. Using a scar cream like Solution for Scars will take any redness away if there is any. Try massaging it every day in the morning and at night for about 3 minutes - it may seem like a long time - but you should be able to feel results. If it's still bothering you or is particularly annoying a revision can be considered to give you a better result through plastic surgery.

6) Can you ever get rid of a scar completely?

Unfortunately, despite what some may claim, you can never get rid of a scar completely. The very best result for any scar is a flat silver / white thin line that is barely noticeable - but you will still have a scar. It's the symptoms of scars that you want to tackle so that you have the very best chance of not disturbing the wound - use a product like Solution for Scars that can help manage the healing of your scar to get the very best outcome possible for you.

7) Are there any particular clothes that can make the C-section scar worse? 

This is really down to what you feel most comfortable in. I would advise my patients to wear clothes that are loose-fitting directly after surgery so as not to disturb the wound. After your scar starts to heal, if it is symptomatic (red, sore and itchy) make sure you manage it with a cream - like Solution for Scars, and chose materials that are breathable and not irritating the scar directly.

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Aimee is the Shopping and Community Editor at Bauer Media where she works on fitness, fashion and beauty content across a number of titles such as heat, Closer and Grazia.

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