What to Know About C-Section Massages

A cesarean section (C-section) is a surgery to deliver a baby and results in a scar across the mother’s abdomen. About 1 in 3 women in the United States deliver their babies via C-section.

Massaging your C-section scar can help its healing process and improve its appearance. It is important to wait to begin massage until your healthcare provider gives you the go-ahead.

This article will describe the benefits of C-section scar massage and how to do it properly.

Woman treats caesarean (C-section) scar with a healing ointment

Michael Nesterov

Types of C-Section Scars

C-section scars are usually about 4 to 6 inches long. At first, they appear pink and swollen. Over time they become flattened against the skin. The two types of C-section scars are:

  • Transverse C-section scar: This is the most common type of C-section scar. It runs along the lower belly, usually along the underwear line. 
  • Vertical C-section scar: This type of scar is often used during emergency surgery because it allows the healthcare provider to remove the baby as quickly as possible. A vertical scar runs up and down along the lower abdomen. 

Scar Formation

Scars are a normal part of the healing process. Once the skin has been cut or damaged, our skin cells start growing new tissue to fall in the gap. From there, scar tissue made up of collagen forms on the skin.

C-Section Scar Healing Stages 

There are three main stages in the scar healing process, including:

  1. The inflammatory stage lasts for three to five days after surgery. During this stage, the bleeding has stopped, and the scar appears pink and swollen. This is when platelet cells and white blood cells travel to the incision site to stop bleeding and help protect against infection. 
  2. The proliferative stage is about five to 15 days. This is the time when collagen forms at the incision site. The collagen acts to pull together the edges of damaged skin along the incision. During this stage, new blood vessels form, and the scar appears thicker. 
  3. The remodeling stage is the final stage of the healing process and can last for up to a year. During this stage, the scar flattens against the skin and fades in color.

Why Massaging Helps 

Scar massage is believed to promote healing and improve the look of the scar. Massaging your C-section scar can help flatten and soften the scar over time. Massage has also been found to decrease pain and itching at the incision site.

Mobilizing the skin around the scar helps loosen scar tissue and improve skin tightness. When you massage your scar, blood flow is increased to the area. This aids in collagen formation, which helps a scar heal faster. 

It is important to note that there are very few scientific studies that have studied scar massage and found it to be effective. Researchers found that while most of the scar massage studies were weak and did not provide clear results, most of the patients noticed an improvement in the look and feel of their scars. 

How to Massage Your C-Section Scar

Before beginning scar massage, talk with your healthcare provider. Most healthcare providers recommend waiting three weeks after surgery to begin a regular massage routine. The scab from your scar should be gone before beginning massage. 

When you are ready to get started, use a gentle oil such as coconut oil,  vitamin E oil, or petroleum jelly for the massage. Coat your fingers in oil, and use the pad of your thumb or fingers to massage the scar.

Use small, circular motions to move the scar around. Use enough pressure that the scar can move but not so much that the massage is painful. Use only as much pressure as is comfortable. 

After massaging the scar itself, move to the surrounding skin. Gently push the skin in all directions while applying even pressure. The goal is to loosen the scar from the tissue underneath it. 

Aim to massage your scar for 10 minutes twice per day for at least six weeks. Then switch to massaging the area about three to four times per week until the scar has lost its coloring and becomes flattened.

Who Should Avoid It

It’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before beginning a daily scar massage routine. Avoid scar massage if the scar:

  • Is less than three weeks old
  • Is an open incision or cut
  • Shows signs of infection, such as increasing pain, redness, or pus drainage
  • Has any complications
  • Is older than two years (a massage at this point will likely not be effective) 

Other Ways to Care for Your C-Section Scar

To care for your C-section scar, provide a moisture-rich environment. The incision area needs to stay moist for optimal healing. Talk with your healthcare provider about how to do this. They will likely recommend regularly applying petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment once the wound has closed. 

To protect your scar from infection, keep the area clean and well-moisturized. Change your surgical dressing once per day or anytime the dressing becomes wet or dirty. In the shower, gently wash your scar with soap and water; avoid scrubbing the area. 

Finally, be careful to protect your scar from the sun. Scars are very susceptible to damage from UV rays for the first 18 months after surgery. Keep your scar covered any time you are spending time outdoors. 

Summary 

C-section scar massage is a helpful way to promote healing and improve the look and feel of your scar. Once your incision has healed and you are at least three weeks past your surgery, talk with your healthcare provider about starting a regular scar massage routine. Keep the scar moisturized and use gentle pressure to make small circles along the line of the scar. It is also helpful to massage the skin surrounding the scar. 

A Word From Verywell 

A c-section is major surgery, and you may be feeling nervous about touching the scar. Never massage an incision site that is still open or is too painful to touch. Talk with your healthcare provider once you feel ready, and know that over time, scar massage will help to reduce pain and hypersensitivity. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long after your C-section can you massage your scar?

    Wait three weeks after your surgery to begin scar massage. If you are unsure if the scar is ready for a massage, talk with your healthcare provider. 

  • How do you treat an infected C-section scar?

    Call your healthcare provider if you are concerned that your C-section scar has become infected. Possible symptoms of an infection in the incision include increasing pain, redness, swelling, pus, foul-smelling drainage, and a fever. 

  • Can you get body massages after having a C-section?

    Most healthcare providers recommend waiting six weeks before having a body massage after a C-section. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best time to receive a massage based on your health and healing schedule.

  • Can you get rid of a C-section scar completely?

    No, it is not possible to completely get rid of a C-section scar. However, it is possible to promote scar healing and prevent complications by caring for it. 

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Commander SJ, Chamata E, Cox J, Dickey RM, Lee EI. Update on postsurgical scar management. Semin Plast Surg. 2016;30(3):122-128. doi:10.1055/s-0036-1584824

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By Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH
Carrie Madormo, RN, MPH, is a health writer with over a decade of experience working as a registered nurse. She has practiced in a variety of settings including pediatrics, oncology, chronic pain, and public health.