What to Know About Cesarean Scars

‌A Cesarean scar happens when you deliver a child through a Cesarean section, also known as a C-section. A C-section is a major surgery that can lead to significant scarring.

Here’s what you need to know about how they can affect your health.

Types of C-Section Scars

There are two types of incisions a surgeon may use during a C-section: vertical and horizontal. Both incisions are equally likely to scar, but the scar will look different depending on its direction.

Vertical cuts are more common in emergency C-sections because they are faster. If your baby is having a health emergency, it lets your surgeon get to them quicker and begin treating them. However, a vertical incision is considered more painful and takes longer to heal.

On the other hand, horizontal incisions are more common in planned C-sections. These incisions are low on your torso, just above your pubic area. Many mothers prefer horizontal incisions because they are easier to hide. They also heal more quickly and cause less pain than vertical incisions.

Impact of C-Sections on Your Health

C-sections are a major surgery. Not only does the surgeon need to make an abdominal incision, but they also need to make an incision in your uterus to remove your baby. As with any major surgery, a C-section can affect your health for weeks and months afterward. After your C-section, you should watch for problems like:

Infection. Any surgical site can become infected without the appropriate care. Keeping your incision site clean and protected can help you avoid infections. Get medical help immediately if you notice:

  • ‌Pain from the incision site getting worse over time
  • ‌Drainage or pus coming from your incisions
  • ‌A fever of more than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit

These are all signs of an infected C-section incision.

Nerve damage. Both classic and bikini C-section incisions involve cutting some nerves in your abdomen. As you heal, you will probably feel like your abdominal area is numb. Many people regain most or all of the sensation in their abdomen. However, if your numbness continues for several weeks or you experience shooting pains in your abdomen and legs, talk to your doctor about nerve injuries.

Hypertrophic scars. C-sections can cause scarring. In some women, these scars become thick, raised, and red. That may mean that your scar is hypertrophic, where your body created more scar tissue than necessary. A hypertrophic scar is harmless, but it may get irritated when you wear clothes or you may not like how it looks.

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Treating Cesarean Scars

If you already have a C-section scar, then you have several options to make it less obvious.

Silicone treatments. Silicone has been shown to help reduce the appearance of scars over time. Using silicone gel or a silicone sheet on your scar can help your body break down unsightly scar tissue.

Steroid injections. If you have a larger scar, steroid injections can help flatten it and make it less obvious. Your doctor may recommend monthly steroid injections so you can get the look you want.

Laser therapy. Medical lasers can help soften old scars and get rid of raised scars. Several monthly laser treatments can help many people minimize the appearance of old C-section scars.

Scar revision. If you have a C-section scar that other treatments have not helped, your doctor may recommend scar revision surgery. This treatment reopens the skin of your scar and removes the scar tissue. The goal is to allow the area to heal again with a less noticeable scar.

Preventing Cesarean Scars

Everyone’s body is different. Some people tend to scar more heavily after an injury or surgery. However, with proper care, you can give yourself a better chance of keeping scarring to a minimum.

Keep it clean. Always follow your surgeon’s instructions for caring for your incision. Infection not only puts your health at risk, but it can also make scarring worse. Keep the area clean and follow instructions for dressing and caring for your stitches.

Don’t stress your incision. Moving around, bending, and twisting can put stress on your incision, making it heal slower and potentially scar more heavily. Take time to rest and let things heal before you get back to your daily routine.

Care for your body. Stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet after your C-section. Keeping your body healthy is the best way to heal from surgery quickly.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 25, 2021

Sources

SOURCES:

American Family Physician: “Management of Keloids and Hypertrophic Scars.”

‌Johns Hopkins: “Cesarean Section,” “Scars.”

Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: “Comparative effect of topical silicone gel and topical tretinoin cream for the prevention of hypertrophic scar and keloid formation and the improvement of scars.”

The Journal of Investigative Dermatology: “Current Understanding of the Genetic Causes of Keloid Formation.”

‌Mayo Clinic: “C-section.”

‌Perinatal Outreach Program of Southwestern Ontario: “Obstetrical Nerve Injury.”

Wounds: “Nutrition in Wound Care Management: A Comprehensive Overview.”

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