If you are having or just had a c-section, this blog is the place to be! To a lot of women (including myself!), c-sections can be intimidating!
For many women, there are a lot of unknowns surrounding a c-section. What will recovery be like? What will my scar look like? When can I resume normal activities?
All of those are excellent questions to get yourself prepared and have your expectations set. We will cover all of those, and more!
What Should You Expect After A C-Section?
A C-Section is major surgery. During a c-section, the surgeon cuts through different layers of tissue to open the uterus and pull out the baby.
After your c-section, the surgeon will suture you up. You will be up and around several hours after your c-section.
You will be released from the hospital 2-3 days after your procedure. When you arrive home there are several things that you can do to help your body heal and recover:
- Rest: Rest whenever you can. Make sure not to lift anything over 10 pounds or do any strenuous activities.
- Driving: Try to avoid driving for a few weeks post-op. It may be difficult to adequately twist, turn and press on the pedals.
- Pain relievers: Be sure to stay on top of your pain medication, especially within the first few days post-op.
- Sex: Hold off on having sex until you are cleared by your OBGYN at your 6-week follow-up appointment.
What does a Normal C-Section Scar Look Like?
Normal is a quite subjective term, but generally, c-section scars are around 6 inches long. Typically they are an incision just above the pubic bone but depending on health factors and baby’s position the surgeon may decide to do a vertical incision from the belly button to the pubic bone.
Your scar will be red for just a few months, then fade to pink, and eventually, it will be a slightly raised line faded to skin color.
Is C-Section Scar Burning Normal?
Pain can be normal, and pain alone doesn’t always indicate a problem, but a burning or stinging sensation can be a sign of a number of complications
How Long Does C-Section Incision Burning Last?
The incision burning can last 4-6 weeks post-c-section. If the burning sensation persists longer than 3 months be sure to consult your physician so other complications can be ruled out.
C-Section Scar Healing Stages
I want to make sure that you are prepared and know what to expect during the healing process. Let’s discuss the c-section scar healing stages.
Hemostasis consists of the first 2 days. This is where your body is constricting the blood vessels and clotting.
The inflammatory stage lasts around a week. During this stage, the wound site is likely inflamed, painful, and red. Your body is getting prepared to grow new tissue.
The proliferative stage lasts around 3 weeks. During this time, your body will be creating new tissue, forming new blood vessels, and healing from the inside out.
The remodeling stage of healing can last months or even years. A c-section is major surgery, and your body can take a while to fully recover.
Every c-section scar is going to look different, depending on the surgery and the way that your body heals.
What Causes Burning and Stinging After a C-Section?
Okay, so you are feeling burning at the scar site. What could be causing it?
Nerve Damage: Of course, cutting through multiple layers of tissue there is the possibility of nerve damage. As the nerves are healing and finding each other again you may feel a burning or stinging sensation.
Endometriosis: Incisional endometriosis occurs when the uterine tissue that usually lines the uterus grows on the outside of the uterus. This complication is rare but can still happen.
Infection: Infection happens when bacteria find its way inside of the incision. Signs of an infection are redness tenderness and swelling on the outside of the incision. You will also likely have drainage or pus coming out of the site.
Hernia: Hernias happen when intestines protrude through a weak point in the abdominal wall. Hernias are more common after c-sections because of this.
What Can You Do if Your C-Section Scar is Burning?
If your scar is burning, it can be normal or an indication of something more serious. There are several different things that you can do or request if your scar is really irritating you.
Antibiotics: Your doctor might prescribe you antibiotics if they believe you have an infection.
Painkillers: Burning may be normal for your healing process, but that doesn’t make it pleasant. You might be prescribed painkillers to help with the discomfort.
Ice or Heat: Your provider may suggest using ice or heat for the burning sensation.
Anesthetic Shot: If your scar is burning, you may request an anesthetic shot. This isn’t a long-term solution but can provide temporary relief.
Scar Tissue Mobilization: Scar tissue mobilization involves massaging the scar tissue. This treatment helps to restore movement of the tissue by remodeling.
Abdominal Binding: Abdominal binding has been used for centuries after childbirth and is especially beneficial after a c-section. Abdominal binding helps to put a steady amount of pressure on the incision site and is beneficial in helping to support the organs while moving back to where they belong.
Surgery to Remove Infected Skin or Nerves: If you develop a severe infection, surgery may be required.
How Can you Prevent a Burning Sensation on Your C-Section Scar?
In some instances, the burning sensation may be inevitable, but there are things that you can do to reduce the risk of having that burning sensation.
Clean as Instructed: Make sure that you are cleaning your scar as instructed by your surgeon. If you notice any discharge, fever, bleeding or severe pain be sure to let your health care provider know.
Wear Loose Clothing: Wearing tight-fitting clothing can definitely cause your scar to be very irritated and angry. Wearing something that is loose around your scar is ideal in the first few weeks post-op.
Follow Restrictions: I know that restrictions are annoying, but they are there for your well-being! Don’t lift anything too heavy, exercise, or have sex in the first 6 weeks.
Rest: I know it is hard, especially with a newborn..but rest is SO important in order to heal!
Follow a Healthy Diet: Make sure that you are fueling your body to heal. Eating a healthy, nutritious diet will promote healing in your body.
Drink Water: Stay hydrated! When your body is dehydrated, you start to weaken, and your body slows down the healing process.
Frequently Asked Questions about C-Section Scars
How to Care For Your C-Section Scar
- Keep the wound clean. You can use mild soap and water to clean the wound if needed. Do not scrub.
- Pat dry your wound after the shower.
- Change your wound dressing 2 times per day.
How to Minimize C-Section Scarring
- Silicone Treatments: Silicone treatments are very minimally invasive. You can start using them as soon as 2 weeks post-op, but make sure to consult your physician first. Silicone treatments help keep moisture and prevent abnormal scarring. I like this one from Amazon!
- Creams: There are lots of different scar creams out there, but I like the Mederma brand advanced scar gel found here!
- Scar Massage: Massaging the scar helps causes remodeling in the scar and helps to make it more mobile.
- Injections: Injections are one of the more invasive ways to minimize scarring. The injections are steroids, and they reduce inflammation and help to make the scar appear less visible.
How are C-Sections Closed?
Staples are a common way to close a c-section incision because it is fast and effective.
Stitches take significantly more time than staples, but some experts believe that wounds closed by stitches are less likely to develop complications. When stitching up a patient, surgeons use a special type of thread and needle and basically sew the wound shut.
Unfortunately, glue isn’t always an option depending on the circumstances of the c-section. This method, however, is believed to leave the least amount of scarring. The type of glue that is used is like a very strong super glue and then the wound has a dressing placed over the top.
What are the Types of C-Section Incisions?
A transverse c-section scar is probably the most common these days. The surgeon will make an incision right above the pubic bone. It is typically around 6 inches in length.
This type of incision was popular in the early 1900s. The vertical incision is still used occasionally when the baby is in an awkward position.
Much like the vertical incision I talked about above, just lower on the abdomen. The incision will start just above the pubic bone.
This incision often happens when the surgeon decides they need more room to work. This incision starts out like a low transverse incision, but the surgeon will make an incision upwards to the belly button.
Sometimes this type of incision can happen by accident, especially in an emergency. The incision looks like a J along the lower abdomen.
Are there different Types of C-Section Scars?
Because we are all unique, there can be different types of c-section scars.
Keloid C-Section Scar: This type of scar occurs because of overhealing. A keloid scar is usually larger than the original wound. Often, the scar is thick and highly pigmented. This type of scarring is more common in women of African descent and typically runs in the family.
Hypertrophic C-Section Scar: This type of scar occurs because the body had an abnormal response to the healing process. Hypertrophic scars happen because the body creates extra tissue in response to the trauma.
A burning sensation after your c-section can be a normal part of the healing process, or it can be an indicator of something more serious. If you feel like something is off, be sure to listen to your body.
What did you experience post-c-section? Did you have issues with burning? Let me know in the comments below!