Let’s be honest with you:
Healing from a c-section doesn’t stop when you leave the hospital. You have many weeks of recovery ahead because you have internal stitches after a c-section that needs to dissolve along with your external incision.
It’s easy to forget about your internal wound when all you can see is the exterior. A week after your surgery, your external incision will be closed and looking better, but you have a large internal incision plus a wound where your placenta attached inside of your uterus that needs to heal as well.
Let’s be real; a c-section is a SERIOUS surgery, and the recovery is tough at times. To heal properly, you need to understand the surgery you underwent and what happened to your body.
So, let’s take a look at how your doctor closed your incision and what you need to know about each method, along with possible warning signs of problems.
Table of Content
- The Different Types of C-Section Closures
- How Many Layers Are Stitched During The C-Section?
- How Long Does It Take for Internal Stitches to Heal After a C-Section?
- How Long Do Steri-Strips Need to Stay on After a C-Section?
- How to Prevent Problems With Your Incision
- 7 Signs of Torn Internal Stitches After a C-Section
- Signs of an Infection After a C-Section
- What Happens if Stitches Break Open?
- When to Call 911 or Doctor
- Taking Care of Your Internal Stitches
The Different Types of C-Section Closures
Each surgeon has a different method to close a c-section incision. Staples are the traditional method, but stitches and glue are becoming more popular.
Statistically, no one closure method is better than the other. All are efficient ways to close an incision and have the same results as the other. Some doctors just prefer a different closure over the other.
Remember that you can speak to your doctor and let him know your closure preferences. Most doctors will follow your lead if you prefer one over the other.
Let’s take a look at three of the most common closures.
When I had my first c-section, the OBGYN used glue, and I had to admit – I was a bit confused. Was super glue holding me together? 😮
No, it’s not super glue, but glue is a popular choice because you don’t need to have it removed, and it doesn’t pull or yank. The adhesive is called Dermabond, and the evidence does show that it’s a safe alternative to staples. Sometimes, your doctor might add steri-strips over the top as well. It’s a clean, reliable way to close a c-section, and many doctors pick glue.
Stitches are a simple choice. Your doctor may or may not use dissolvable stitches on the exterior. If they aren’t dissolvable, your doctor will need to remove the stitches at your one-week postpartum exam.
One study indicated that women who have dissolvable stitches have a 57% decreased risk of wound complications over women with staples. Studies show that, while sutures do take considerably longer to use in the operating room, they reduce the risk of infection.
For two of my four c-sections, my wound was closed with staples. While they do have some frustrating parts, I found that I prefer my scars after staples. I felt as if my scar looks neater and straighter.
Staples are placed on your external incision to keep everything neat and closed. Some doctors remove staples as soon as three days postpartum, but in my experience, all of my staples were removed at one week postpartum.
Don’t be worried about the staple removal. It only takes a few seconds for each staple, and it feels like a small pinch. That’s it!
How Many Layers Are Stitched During The C-Section?
Believe it or not, when you have a c-section, the doctor has to cut through seven layers of tissue. So, if you’re wondering why you’re so sore, think about that!
The seven layers are:
- Rectus Sheath
- Parietal Peritoneum
- Loose Peritoneum
That’s a lot of tissue, and some of those layers are tough muscular layers. The tissue in and around your incision aggressively heals for around three months, but that healing process continues for six months or longer. That’s one of the primary reasons why you need to rest and rest a lot!
Even though your doctor cut through seven layers to reach your baby, your OBGYN doesn’t stitch seven layers closed during a c-section. Typically, a doctor stitches two layers. You’ll have the internal stitches for the inside layers and then an external layer.
How Long Does It Take for Internal Stitches to Heal After a C-Section?
Your internal stitches start to dissolve a few days after you give birth. By the time that you’re two weeks postpartum, the internal incision is fully closed, but that doesn’t mean you are fully healed.
Surgeons use absorbable sutures, which are made of unique materials that remain in your body for a period. Your doctor dissolves the sutures well after the incision is closed. You don’t have to worry about the c-section stitches coming out before the incision itself is shut. It does take time to dissolve!
Don’t take that as a time to start going on hikes or vigorous bicycle riding or driving a car. Even though the incision is closed, it doesn’t mean your body is healed and recovered.
It takes three-six months for your internal incision to fully healed. The good thing is that if you’re worried that you can tear internal c-section stitches after a year, you now know that you can’t! Your incision is fully healed after a year.
How Long Do Steri-Strips Need to Stay on After a C-Section?
Steri-strips are like duct tape for surgery; they don’t come off quickly. After my last c-section, my nurse had to remove one of the strips because I was bleeding, and it felt like she was going to remove my skin as well.
Typically, steri-strips should be removed one week after your surgery, but they might fall off beforehand. Be sure not to cover them during showers; the moisture will help the strips come off on their own.
If the strips don’t come off by themselves after a week, you can remove them yourself ten days after your surgery. Don’t forcibly remove them beforehand. You should spend to your caregiver; some want you to come into their offices to have strips removed.
How to Prevent Problems With Your Incision
In general, c-sections are considered a safe procedure, but you have to remember that it’s major surgery. You must take proper care of your incision to prevent any problems with your incision.
Here are some suggestions to help keep your incision infection and injury-free.
Keep It Clean
You must keep the area clean even though you’ll be sore for quite a while. When you’re showering, it’s safe to let water and soap run down the incision, or you can gently wash the incision with a washcloth.
Make sure you DON’T scrub the incision. Just pat it dry with a towel.
Check Your Incision Daily
Make sure that you inspect your incision each day, which will help you notice if any issues develop. That allows you to catch the problems before they become too severe. You’ll be able to see if the incision looks red or angry instead of getting better or if there is suddenly drainage that looks a bit worrisome.
Now is not the time to exercise. Too much activity can cause your internal stitches and external closures to break open. Be careful when bending over or lifting heavy objects.
To avoid breaking open incisions, brace your wounds to prevent the incisions from opening after the surgery. You’ll need or want to brace your c-section when coughing, sneezing, standing up from a seated position, or even when you have a bowel movement.
Wear Loose-Fitting Clothes
Chances are you won’t wait to wear tight-fitting clothes right after your surgery, but on the off-chance that you feel tempted, stay away from the. Tight clothes can irritate your incision, so opt for pajamas, leggings, jogging pants, and baggy shirts, for now.
Another benefit of wearing loose clothes is that they help expose your incision to more airflow. Air speeds the healing process.
Take Your Pain Relievers
Your doctor will prescribe pain relievers, and you must take them to ease discomfort. You might take ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or prescription pain relievers. Be sure to stay on top of your pain; if you let the pain get too much, it’ll make it harder to go away.
Apply Heat to Your Abdomen
Your incision will be sore for a week or two, and using heat can help to reduce pain and soreness. Try using a heating pad on your abdomen for 15 minutes at a time.
7 Signs of Torn Internal Stitches After a C-Section
In the ideal world, your surgical wounds will heal and close properly, with the edges staying intact while the new tissue forms. However, a common surgical complication is when the surgical incision breaks apart. When a wound opens, it’s called wound dehiscence, which happens in 6-7% of c-sections.
Worrying about popped internal stitches after a c-section is normal! The last thing you want is to need to go back into the hospital after finally making it home with your baby.
You need to avoid straining, lifting toddler, or doing anything that increases pressure on your wounds.
Here are some signs of wound dehiscence.
- Bleeding from the wound or at entry points
- A fever develops over 100.4℉
- Inflammation near and around the surgical area
- Extreme pain at the wound site that is sensitive to touch
- Sudden swelling
- Wound draining that is pus-filled or frothy
- Sudden breaking open of the wound
Signs of an Infection After a C-Section
Moms need to be vigilant about infections after a c-section. 6 to 11% of c-sections end in an infection, and you can end up with an infection in your uterus, belly, or incision. All it takes is bacteria entering your incision, and you end up with an infection.
Here’s how you might know that you have an infected c-section incision.
- Redness (angry red) around your incision that wasn’t there beforehand.
- New swelling around the incision that seems abnormal.
- You find fluid leaking from the wound.
Determining if you have an internal or uterus infection can be a bit more complicated. Here are some sins of a problem.
- You develop a fever.
- There is increasing abdominal pain
- You have foul-smelling vaginal discharge.
What Happens if Stitches Break Open?
If you have any suspicions that your stitches broke open, contact your doctor immediately. There were several times when I had sudden pains, and I worried that something happened internally. It is difficult to break open internal stitches but not as hard to break open external ones.
If you do happen to break open an internal closure, don’t freak out. It doesn’t mean you’ll automatically undergo surgery again, and your doctor is trained to handle these problems.
Most doctors will prescribe antibiotics if you break open a suture. You do not want an infection to develop at the wound site, and you might also get additional pain medication. You might end up having a drain placed in your external incision to help any fluid escape.
Expect to visit the doctor multiple times to be checked out. They have to catch any problems as fast as possible. If it’s not getting any better, your doctor will have to go back in and surgically fix the problem.
When to Call 911 or Doctor
In most cases, you can put a call into your doctor’s office and let them know what is happening. They’ll let you know when to come into the office, but most will schedule you that day. If a small part of your external incision spreads apart, cover it with a clean, dry bandage, and let your doctor know the situation.
Some situations warrant a visit to the emergency room or a call to 911. Here is when you need to seek immediate help.
- If your incision opens wide, cover it and either go to the emergency room or call 911.
- If you start to bleed profusely, head to the emergency room.
- In the event of your wound opening so wide that you can see internal organs or tissues, cover the area with a moist sterile bandage and call 911. Then lie down and elevate your legs.
Taking Care of Your Internal Stitches
If you follow your doctor’s instructions and take care of your incision, chances are your internal stitches after your c-section will be fine. Avoid lifting and putting too much pressure on your abdomen for the first two to three weeks. All it takes is some TLC, and your body will heal quickly.