In most cases, c-section recovery is straightforward, and you start to feel better soon after. Other times, you might face complications, such as your incision opening after your surgery.
I always worried about my c-section incision opening. It was one thing that I did not want to happen, so I had to know if certain activities increased the risk as well as signs that I needed to know.
If you’re feeling the same concern or think that your incision has opened, here is what you need to know.
Table of Content
Understanding Dehiscence After Your Surgery
When your incision opens, it’s called dehiscence, and it can range in severity. You might have a suture that comes loose or a small area that starts to pull apart. Other times, dehiscence is a severe issue when the entire incision opens, allowing you to see the tissue underneath.
That can be quite scary, as you might imagine! 😮
Risk Factors for Wound Dehiscence
Some factors increase the risk of dehiscence, and these factors apply to all surgeries, not just c-sections.
- Liver, kidney, and heart disease
- A weak immune system
The Reasons for a C-Section Incision Opening
Stress on your incision is the main reason that your c-section incision would open, but there are several ways that stress or pressure is applied to your wound.
Most OBGYNs don’t clear you for exercising until you’re 6-8 weeks postpartum, and there is a good reason for that. Your incision is still healing, and it is too risky. Exercising could lead to the wound opening.
Accidents happen, and if you trip and fall, it could cause your incision to open. That also applies to if you were in a car accident or something else. Any accident could put stress on your wound.
Do you remember when your doctor told you to avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby for several weeks? That advice was for a good reason. Even precautions should be taken to lift a toddler within the first few weeks.
When you lift heavy objects, you put too much pressure and stress on your incision and sutures. That pressure could cause your stitching to pop open, potentially allowing your entire incision to open. Learn more about how to take care of those stitches after c-section.
Any infection could disrupt your incision and lead to the opening of the wound. It’s essential to know the signs of infection so that you can call your OBGYN. If an infection is left there, it could cause a multitude of problems.
Here are a few signs of infection.
- Fever of 100.4℉ or higher
- Weird smell from the wound
- Pus coming out of the wound
- Redness around the wound
- Hot to the touch
Not Bracing Your Incision
It’s not common, but sometimes, failing to brace your incision could put too much pressure. Typically, this would lead to just a popped suture, not your entire incision opening. It would be best if you braced when you’re coughing or sneezing, and you might find it helpful to do so when you have a bowel movement.
How Do I Know If My Incision is Opening?
You need to pay attention to your incision after your surgery. Inspect it daily for any signs of infection and that it’s healing correctly. That way, if you notice any problems, you can address the issue with your doctor immediately.
During your inspection, if you see that a suture is loose or your Steri Strips fell off, it’s not an issue that requires a call to your doctor.
Some other signs that your incision is opening or problems are occurring include:
- Redness or swelling around the incision
- A sudden fever higher than 100.4℉
- Oozing and drainage from your incision
- Pain or tenderness ins a specific area
- A foul smell from the incision
- Feeling that the wound is giving away
- Leaking pink or yellow fluid from the wound
When Should I Go to the Doctor?
As I mentioned before, loose sutures or Steri Strips that fell off aren’t an issue, but if you notice that your incision starts to gape open, you need to call your doctor. It’s essential to notify your doctor of an incision opening because it allows bacteria and materials to enter into your wound. That increases the risk of infection, or it might let your wound open further.
If a small part of your incision opens, use a clean bandaid to cover it and let your doctor know. If it opens wide, then cover it and call your doctor. You’ll need to go to the emergency room.
What Happens If My Incision Opens
The first thing you need to do is call your doctor, and he will let you know if you need to come into the office to be seen.
Once there, your doctor will examine the opening. Small openings typically won’t require any medical procedures. Your doctor might use a Steri Strip to close it again once cleaning the area. He will advise you to keep a close eye on the incision and monitor for signs of infection, which is what you were doing before.
In some cases, a wound vacuum will be placed over your wound. The purpose of a wound vacuum is to remove fluid or infection from the incision site, letting it heal and close. Other times, doctors need to pack your wounds with bandages to allow it to heal appropriately.
Your doctor might use a belly binder to help decrease any pressure or stress applied to your wound. Binders hold your incision together.
An open wound is rarely life-threatening, but those cases are called evisceration, which is when the incision opens wide, and internal organs protrude out of the body.
Remember, this is scary, but it is not common.
In the case of evisceration, your doctor will need to perform surgery to stabilize and close your incision. Be sure to call 911 if this happens. It would be best if you did not drive yourself to the hospital. Lay down and elevate your legs until help arrives!
You must watch for signs that you need immediate care, such as blood soaking through your bandage or tissue coming through your wound. Those are times that you need to head to the nearest emergency room. Make sure you avoid situations that lead to your c-section incision opening and rest often to give yourself time to heal.