Congratulations on becoming a mother, whether it is for the first time or the fourth! Being a mother is one of life’s greatest milestones. However, if you have had a cesarean section (c-section) delivery, you might be frustrated with the remaining scar. Here, Dr. Michael Bohley discusses what you can do to help minimize scars after having a c-section.
Give It Time
One of the first pieces of advice we offer to women who are unhappy with their c-section scars is to give it time. Scars can continue to mature for several months to a couple of years. In the first phase of healing, the scar may appear darker than the surrounding skin. However, with time and proper care, it should fade so it closely matches the surrounding skin. It may become nearly unnoticeable on its own.
Nonetheless, some women, such as those with darker-toned skin or certain hereditary traits, may be prone to developing more noticeable scars. If this is the case with you, there are a few things you can try to minimize the appearance of scars.
Avoid Sun Exposure
One of the most important things you can do to minimize the appearance of a scar is to keep it out of the sun. Even 20 minutes of sun exposure without the use of proper protection (i.e., clothing or sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more) can cause scars to become raised and red. Once this happens, it is extremely difficult to improve the scar’s appearance without surgical intervention.
Don’t smoke. Smoking will only worsen the appearance of your scars. Smoking constricts your blood vessels, so they cannot transport oxygen to your cells. Oxygen is essential in cell repair and helping your scars heal. Smoking also transports toxins to your cells, when what they need are oxygen and other nutrients. Smoking damages collagen and elastin, two proteins that are vital for good skin health and elasticity. Finally, smoking can contribute to poor wound healing and even cause your incision site to split open.
You must wait until your obstetrician or family physician has given you the okay before you try to massage the scar. Massaging the scar before it is well healed can lead to complications, including re-opening the wound. However, once you are cleared by your doctor, try massaging the scar using up and down, side to side and circular motions. Use the pads of your fingers to massage the scar in the direction that you feel the most resistance. This will help the scar tissue release from any other tissues it is attached to. Be careful not to use extreme force when massaging the area.
Supplements and Nutrients
Also, be sure that you are getting the right vitamins and nutrients to help your body heal. Magnesium supports muscle smoothness and elasticity while vitamin E helps soft tissues heal and supports collagen health. Finally, zinc is vital for cell growth and is integral in the formation of connective tissue. You may also want to try taking an arnica supplement, which has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which are important to minimizing the appearance of scars.
Ask your doctor before you apply any topical medications to the scar, however. Some of the products marketed for use in minimizing the appearance of scars may actually hinder the scar’s ability to heal.
If you have tried all these things and are still bothered by the look of your scar, contact Dr. Bohley for assistance. He can often provide surgical treatment to improve the look of your scar.
To schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Bohley to learn more about your cosmetic surgery treatment options, please contact his practice by calling (503) 253-3458 today.