Many people feel apprehensive about touching their C Section scars, even well after they have healed. However it’s not only OK to touch your scar, it’s good! Touching and moving your scar will help it heal and reduce discomfort. There are two primary ways that scar mobilization is helpful.
1) Normalizing Sensation
When we have any surgical incision that heals into a scar, the nerves surrounding that tissue get temporarily disrupted. This can result in numbness or heightened sensitivity at the healing incision and eventual scar. Frequent touch and movement to the scar and surrounding skin will help recalibrate the sensations that these nerves feel, so that both numbness and increased sensitivity start to move back towards normal.
2) Improving Scar Tissue Mobility
When an incision heals, scar formation is a normal part of the process. However, sometimes when scar tissue forms it adheres to the surrounding fascia and muscles. This can result in uncomfortable pulling as anything around the scar moves. Scar tissue is naturally less flexible than our normal skin and connective tissues, so we also want to make sure that it can move as well as possible. Directly moving a scar can reduce the chance that it develops uncomfortable adhesions and is able to move well with you.
You can think of scar mobilization as having two phases. The first phase is while the incision is not yet closed or fully healed. The second phase is after the incision is fully closed and healed.
Phase One: The emphasis in this phase is on normalizing sensation and gently moving the skin around the healing incision. This includes lightly running your fingers over the incision and surrounding tissue and gently pulling the skin around the incision in different directions. At this stage there should be no direct pulling or movement of the incision to ensure that it is able to close and heal properly.
Phase Two: Once the incision is fully closed and there is no scabbing left, more direct scar mobilization can begin. Using a neutral lotion or oil, you can apply direct pressure to the scar and move your fingers in multiple directions. This can be circles, up/down, and side to side movements. The more directions the scar is moved in, the more flexible it will be. When that feels comfortable you can progress to lifting the scar by lightly pinching it between your fingers and pulling it away from your abdomen. This helps make sure it is not adhering to any of the tissues below it.
We encourage you to seek out a pelvic health physical therapist for further assistance and guidance in recovery post C section!