After a normal c-section procedure, most women have a 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) long, horizontal incision right above their pubic bone. It takes about six weeks for this incision to heal, and once healed the scar is usually about 1/16-1/8 inches (0.15-0.3 cm) wide. To minimize c-section scarring, c-section aftercare is vital, including keeping the incision clean, not rubbing or scratching the wound, and supporting the area around the incision when putting stress on the abdominal muscles, for example when sneezing, coughing, laughing and breastfeeding. Appropriate post c-section exercise can help reduce c-section scarring by toning the abdomen, but straining the muscles too much risks opening up the incision. Many products, including creams and oils, silicone strips and abdominal wraps, also claim to help minimize scarring after a c-section.
The appearance of the post-surgery scar is affected by individual genetic factors and wound-healing during c-section recovery. Incisions that become infected will commonly leave more of a scar, so it is important to keep the incision clean. Washing the area gently with soap and water or cleaning it with a mild antiseptic or antibacterial wash reduces the chance of infection.
The incision and scar tissue can often itch, but it is important not to scratch the area, since this can open up the incision. To reduce c-section scarring it is also important to support the abdominal muscles. Putting too much stress on the incision by lifting heavy items or not supporting the abdominal muscles properly during physical activity or sudden movements can open up the incision, leading to increased c-section scarring. Abdominal wraps can help provide some support, minimizing c-section scarring.
Applying creams, lotions or oils once the incision is fully healed can be beneficial. Vaseline, vitamin E oil, and cocoa butter are said to reduce c-section scarring. These products help by moisturizing scar tissue, and applying them can also reduce scarring by improving blood flow. Applying over-the-counter silicone sheets or strips to the scar can also help reduce scarring, especially if the scar is raised, bumpy and dark in color. Silicone sheets are sometimes used to treat keloidal or hypertrophic scars, which are scars that are thicker than normal because of excess scar tissue.
Keeping the incision clean and supporting the abdominal muscles will reduce c-section scarring. It also reduces the risk of c-section complications. After a c-section, one should seek medical attention if experiencing a fever, if the incision or scar becomes red and swollen, if it oozes fluid, or if the wound feels warm.