Cesarean Scars

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A Guide to C-Section Scars

You may have some questions about c-section scars either before or after your cesarean section. The questions may pertain to healing or during or just after the surgery. Perhaps you want to know what your c-section scar will look like when it is done healing. Or maybe you're worried about pain and practical issues like clothing when it comes to c-section scar questions. Here you will find some answers to the most often asked questions about c-section scars.

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What type of abdominal incision is used in a c-section?

Abdominal Incisions for C-Section
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Vertical incisions are very rare. This is called a classical incision by lay people because it was the original type of cesarean incision used. The medical term for this type of incisions is a vertical midline. These are only used in extreme circumstances.

The horizontal or bikini incision (Pfannenstiel incision) is a very common type of incision used on the abdomen. It is placed at the top of the pubic hair or just over the hair line as the c-section is started. This provides a much more cosmetically appealing scar once it is healed.

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What type of uterine incision is used in a c-section?

Uterine Incisions for C-section
Photo © A.D.A.M.

The scar on your uterus may look similar to the scar on your abdomen. It can also be going a different direction, like up and down (classical) or horizontal (bikini). This can play into whether you are a good candidate for a vaginal birth in subsequent births, also known as vaginal birth after cesarean or VBAC, so always be sure to ask your surgeon whether you have a horizontal or vertical incision on your uterus. You might also ask specifically about vaginal birth in subsequent pregnancies, because some incisions on the uterus may be more at risk, for example, if your incision extended. The most common uterine incision is a horizontal incision on the lower segment of the uterus (low flap transverse incision), a preterm baby, a baby in an odd position or a medical emergency may necessitate a different type of incision.

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What materials will be used to close my c-section incision?

Staple Removal After C-section
Staples being removed a week after a c-section. Photo © ARR

This may depend on several factors including your body type and your doctor's preference. Your doctor may use staples, sutures (stitches), glue or a combination.

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What do I do if I have pain at my c-section scar?

Cesarean Incision Scar- 5 days
This mom had a cesarean five days prior to this photo. Notice the shaving of the pubic hair. Photo © Emma

If you have any redness, swelling, extreme pain or worsening pain you should contact your doctor. You should also call right away if you have anything oozing out of the incision. These can be signs of infection which needs prompt care.

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Is it normal for my c-section scar to itch?

Cesarean Scar - 8 weeks Pregnant - 2nd Pregnancy - Pregnant Belly Photos
Itching can be a normal part of the healing process after a c-section. Photo © Diana P.

It is normal to experience itching during the healing process. Be careful about scratching because you will want to avoid infection. If you have itching and numbness, it is possible to hurt yourself from scratching. Some mothers find that holding something tightly over their scar can help reduce the itching sensation.

The itching can also be from the area of pubic hair that was shaved just before the surgery. If after your pubic hair grows back you still have itching, it may simply be from healing.

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What do I do if my c-section scar is irritated?

Cesarean Scar Incisions
This c-section scar is irritated shortly after having the stapes removed. Photo © ARR

Try to avoid clothing that sits directly over your c-section scar. This can mean choosing different underwear or even pants. Consider doing this for a few months, as the tissue heals, you can try introducing your old wardrobe back in and may not have a problem with it.

Be sure to keep your c-section incision site clean and dry. If you are having trouble keeping the area dry due to the shelf of skin that can sometimes hang over the incision, ask your doctor about using something like corn starch once the site is completely healed. You can also use gauze or cotton to tuck into the shelf. Be sure to thoroughly dry the skin after bathing.

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Is it normal to have a numb c-section scar?

Cesarean Birth Scar - Three Months Old
Cesarean Scar - 3 Months After Surgery. Photo © Aimee

Some moms report that they feel nothing around or just on top of their c-section scar. For some mothers this is a temporary lack of sensation, for other mothers this is permanent. Mention this to your doctor if you have questions.

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How big will my c-section scar be?

Healed, a c-section scar is four to six inches long. Though this length can vary due to the placement of the incision and the length required to birth your baby.

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How long does it take a c-section scar to heal?

Healing C-Section Incisions
The process of healing after a c-section over the course of a year is very dramatic. Photo © A.D.A.M.

The time it takes for your c-section scar to heal will vary from woman to woman. Sometimes there are things that will slow or impede your healing like poor nutrition, infection, etc. Staying healthy, eating well and the like will help your body do its job by healing the site of the incision.

You will notice that the area of the c-section scar slowly changes, so much so that you may not notice the difference on a daily basis. You can consider taking pictures to see how the healing process looks for various time periods. In the beginning, right after your c-section, the healing process is fairly rapid and daily changes can be noticed. But after that, you may not find the subtle changes as noticeable.

You should always contact your doctor with questions about the c-section scar.

Source:

Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. Gabbe, S, Niebyl, J, Simpson, JL. Fifth Edition.

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