Caesarean section scar tissue massage
Did you know that post caesarean section surgery your scar tissue should be massaged?
Were you told how to let air get to it to allow it to heal, then to try and walk tall to allow the scar to lengthen or even to touch it and massage it as soon as it was dry and healed?
Scar tissue massage is an area that is so important to post c-section ladies and yet is massively overlooked without much education or information given about it.
I have had TWO c-sections now.
My first was a planned (elective) surgery due to my baby being BREECH (sat on their bum and not on their head in utero).
My second was a planned turned “emergency” due to a failed placenta then a hospital acquired chest infection to make things that little bit more uncomfortable post op.
Both times I walked down to theatre.
The first time without being in labour, the second time I was in the very first stages of labour and had been for days.
Personally I feel I have been lucky following both of my c-sections that I did not lose any sensation around my scar or abdomen, which I know is extremely COMMON for many ladies post surgery.
I also had the awareness and knowledge to start massaging my scar as soon as it had healed.
If your scar has no signs of bleeding or oozing, then these are good indicators that your scar is SAFE to touch.
I knew the sooner I started my scar tissue massage the better.
I didn’t fear it.
I didn’t mind touching it.
I could SEE it.
I knew it would help to REDUCE SWELLING and PROMOTE blood flow that would help to HEAL it.
But being a physiotherapist I also know from experience a lot of ladies struggle to see, touch and feel their own scars for many reasons.
At present this information is lacking amongst the post natal advice for ladies post c-section. You are so overwhelmed and bombarded with huge amounts of info with a newborn baby that taking in self care tips for mums doesn’t even come close to your radar.
SO my top tips regarding post caesarean surgery scar tissue management are…
Can you see it? If you have excess skin hanging over your scar you need to ly down for at least FIVE MINUTES a few times a day and pull the skin up away from your scar to allow AIR to get to it and promote healing and reduce infection risks.
Can you feel it? Have a feel of the surrounding skin around your scar and your tummy to see if your sensation is normal or if you have any reduced patches of sensation.
If you have reduced sensation or numbness in some areas, start working on these areas by tapping, stroking, massaging, use different mediums like cotton wool balls, combs, everything and any type of different sensory stimuli you can find – BOMBARD your skin with touch.
This will help to awaken the skin and reduce sensitivity or numbness to touch.
Is it still bleeding and healing? Protect your scar by using a sanitary pad across the length of it within your underwear to help avoid chaffing. Do NOT massage it at this point. The surrounding tissue is safe to massage but not the scar itself.
Is it oozing or has a pungent smell? Tell your midwife or GP and get the scar swabbed to see if it has an infection as you may need a course of treatment urgently.
Can you touch it? If the scar is well healed and you are happy to touch your scar START to TOUCH it. Go ahead. Gently massage it in small circular movements with light touch to begin with and then firmer touch as you progress with time healing scales.
Having done all of the above myself after SIX months post baby I noticed I kept experiencing a “catching” type sensation around one side of my scar with certain movements. It wasn’t particularly painful but it did feel like something was stuck deep down.
I sough advise from a fellow women’s health physio explaining I had done my own scar tissue work but I had this random “catching” problem. She excellently advised me to seek out a scar tissue massage therapist to get it checked out.
After a google search I unearthed a lady not far from me in Derbyshire where I lived at that time. I managed to squeeze in two appointments before we emigrated countries but the results were superb.
I had a brilliant initial assessment and then treatment to my scar.
The difference it made was HUGE.
The catching sensation relented as it was released.
My scar felt freer.
My body felt like it could MOVE without the fear of this weird catching problem that always caught me off guard.
SO what IS scar tissue therapy and how is it different to basic scar tissue massage?
It’s so important I share this brilliant work with you all.
With great pleasure I would like to introduce the wonderful Lisa Satchwell of Lisa Satchwell Energetics to give more insight into scar tissue massage.
Over to Lisa…
M: Thank you so much for agreeing to give more insight into this amazing work you do.
M: First of all can you introduce yourself and tell us about your background of how you became a specialist scar tissue therapist?
L: I’m Lisa, of Lisa Satchwell Energetics and I am a Clinical Massage Therapist specialising in treatingpeople with chronic pain problems. I have been a practitioner for nearly 10 years working in the UK and abroad. I started my career in Australia where I originally qualified, and returned to the UK in 2011 to continue in my thirst for learning, graduating in 2015 with a distinction in Advanced Clinical and Sports Massage at the JING Institute of Advanced Massage Training in Brighton.
I work predominantly with our fascia system, treating people using a variety of techniques including myofascial release. Training in Scar work was a natural progression as a number of my clients had scars and I realised that they were causing restrictions in their bodies. Scar tissue is very dense fascia with unique properties and it was important to me to know how to integrate this back into the fascial system and further help clients on their healing journeys.
M: What is ScarWork Therapy and how does it differ to basic massage?
L: ScarWork Therapy is an innovative technique founded by Sharon Wheeler from Seattle, USA. It is a whole body treatment that not only improves the appearance of scars and nerve function but may also help relieve any pain in your body that you may not have even considered was related to the scar.
I believe that there are two main differences – techniques and pressure. Scar work is a very gentle non-invasive treatment that focuses on light casual touch with long lasting or permanent results. The work starts with the surface layers and goes into the deeper, far reaches of the scar and associated tissue and adhesions. Tissue quality changes quickly and easily with lumps, gaps, ridges, knots and bumps smoothing rapidly out into your body’s natural fascial web. Scar work may result in whole body changes.
M: What type of scars do you commonly treat?
L: I have treated a wide range of scars including C sections, hysterectomy, surgery including spinal, abdominal, shoulder, hip, knee and breast surgery, skin grafts and burns. The most common types are C sections, breast and abdominal surgery.
M: What are the benefits of ScarWork therapy?
L: ScarWork therapy has heaps of benefits! It is used to improve the health and feel of scars from surgery or accidents, loosening and releasing adhesions and tight tissue between the layers of fascia, muscle and connective tissue to improve mobility and reduce discomfort and pain.
Trapped nerves and irritated scar tissue can be a factor for chronic pain and discomfort. Scar work may reduce pain and help to normalise sensitivity. Clients with C sections often report numbness, a loss of sensitivity and that this part of their body feels alien and not part of their whole body. Post treatment they feel the integration of this area and the sensitivity has returned.
Pain elsewhere in the body that may not be associated with scars can be reduced. This is because adhesions created by scar tissue can connect structures within our body that should not be connected. Reducing these adhesions and integrating them back into the facial system improves pain and mobility restrictions. For example I worked with a lady who had a C section and then continued to have pain and sickness, after unsuccessful exploratory surgery she was, further operated on this time from belly button to pubic bone and her surgeon found that the C section scar tissue had adhered to her bowel. This was resolved and she came to for scar work to reduce any scar tissue build up and to prevent a reoccurrence.
Scar work can assist surgeons where multiple operations are performed along the same scar line or in a similar area, as in a second C section. Treatment prior to a second surgery will ensure that there is reduced or very little scar tissue for them to negotiate when they operate. This also helps with the healing process and reduces possible longer term complications.
Improvement after treatment seems to be lasting and even single sessions can be helpful.
M: When is the best time to get scar tissue work done?
L: No there is no timeframe, treatment can be beneficial on new and old scar tissue. A scar cannot be worked on for the first 12 weeks or until it has been signed off by a surgeon. The scar needs to be healed, clean and dry. It doesn’t matter how old the scar is and I have had great results working with scars that are years old. However, I would recommend working on scars as soon as possible to avoid scar tissue build up and possible complications.
M: How can we contact you for further information or to make an appointment?
L: I can be contacted through my website www.lisasatchwellenergetics.co.uk. I offer a discovery chat with potential clients prior to booking so that they can ask any questions that may be concerning them and to let them know how I work and what is involved.
M: Is there a list of ScarWork therapist across the UK?
L: Yes there is and it can be found on the UK trainers’ websites:-
Body in Harmony https://www.bodyinharmony.org.uk/uk-scarwork-therapists/
Restore Therapy https://restoretherapy.co.uk/access-scar-treatment/
A huge thank you to Lisa for taking the time to answer my questions and provide you all with a valuable insight into the world of scar tissue therapy and it’s benefits.
I hope you find all the information useful and please pass it on if you have friends or family who might benefit from this treatment.
Thanks for reading everyone ?
Lisa Satchwell is one of the top therapists in the country for clinical massage. She has worked all over the world and trained in a variety of specialist treatments to offer a unique approach to chronic and acute pain. Her passion is helping people to live pain free. In seeing clients regain their health and vitality and get back to living life to the full.
Marie Fell is the founder of The Pilates Physio UK who now lives and works in Luxembourg. She is a qualified physiotherapist with over 12 years NHS experience in a wide array of specialisms and her passion lies in Posture, Pilates and the Pelvic floor! She is an enthusiastic pelvic health activist and uses her blog to highlight areas of pelvic health that are lacking to others.
She is passionate about improving post natal care for all ladies through education. Her mission is to empower, inspire and educate others to move freely and keep healthy and teaching Pilates with a clinician’s hat on allows her the best of both worlds.