Scar massage is beneficial for any surgical incision. After cesarean section delivery, the scar can be painful, cause poor muscle recruitment in the abdominal wall and cause adhesions that prevent healthy movement of the organs in the pelvic region.
Scar tissue forms itself in a messy fashion, and if left alone, can be very restrictive and immobile. A simple technique of scar massage can prevent this, and help the scar heal nicely with good mobility and improve function of the abdominal muscles. Scar massage can even prevent excessive scarring and make the scar appear less noticeable!
There are two strategies for massaging abdominal scars:
1: Skin stretching involves stretching the skin around the scar
2: Scar massage involves the skin directly on the scar
Scar Massage: Skin Stretching
Begin about 3-6 weeks after surgery, as long as incision is well healed. This can be done on your own, at home, for 5 minutes/day.
- Place fingers 2-3 inches from scar.
- Stretch the skin by moving the fingers up and down around the entire scar.
- Repeat step 2 by stretching side to side and clockwise/counterclockwise.
- Massage completely around the scar, repeating each movement 5-10 times.
It is normal to experience a pulling or burning feeling when you initially are stretching the scar. If you feel an area that does not move as easily, spend a little extra time in this area stretching the scar.
Direct Scar Massage
Begin as soon as the incision is closed and well healed.
- Hold the pads of two or three fingers together. The fingers should be slightly arched.
- Place pads of fingers on the edge of the scar.
- Stretch the scar by pushing fingers ½ inch in one direction (indicated by arrows). Hold scar stretch for 10-15 seconds.
- Repeat step 3 by stretching the scar in the opposite direction
- Move along the scar every ½ inch-1 inch and repeat over the entire length of the scar, stretching in all directions (up/down, side to side, and diagonal).
Scar Lift and Roll
- Lift scar away using index finger and thumb.
- Roll the scar between fingers for 10-15 sceonds
- Move along entire length of scar repeating every ½ inch-1 inch.
These simple techniques do not take more than 5 minutes daily. They are easy to do in the shower or when baby is napping. You will be surprised at how quickly (within the first 2 weeks) the scar becomes less painful. The other fun part is that the appearance of the scar with be thinner and more favorable. Caring for yourself after baby is important! If you begin using this massage and don’t find that it improves or you continue to have pain or weakness, you can see a pelvic physical therapist who can help!
- Sarah Dominguez, PT, MSPT, CLT, WCS