A caesarean section or C-section is a commonly performed procedure to deliver a baby and involves making an incision through your abdomen and womb. After the baby is delivered, the incision is closed with stitches.
The tightness of the scar, compared to the surrounding skin, can cause an overhang of excess skin and/or fat to appear. A healthy diet and exercise routine can help you lose any pregnancy weight gain, but unfortunately, it will not address this pouch which is often referred to as a c-shelf or c-section pouch.
Non-surgical procedures are also not able to address a c-shelf, and a surgical procedure in the form of a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is the only effective c section pouch removal solution.
Our Tummy Tuck Recovery Guide
View the Karidis Clinic guide to your tummy tuck recovery, including the expected timeline, the questions we always get asked, and tips from Stevie, our highly experienced surgical nurse.
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FAQs for C-Section Pouch Removal Surgery
The c-section pouch refers to the hanging belly you’re left with after a caesarean section that can persist even when you lose any pregnancy weight.
During pregnancy, your muscles and skin stretch to accommodate the growing baby and many women are left with increased skin and muscle laxity after their baby is born. Unfortunately, the scarring after a c-section operates like a tight band at the base of the abdomen, causing lax abdominal skin and muscles and any excess fatty tissue to hang over the scarring in the form of a c-shelf.
We recommend waiting at least 6 to 12 months after your c section before considering surgery to address the c-shelf. This allows your c section scar enough time to heal and any swelling to subside. Waiting will also enable you to return to your pre-pregnancy shape, as it is vital to be at or near your ideal body weight to achieve the optimal result.
An abdominoplasty is major surgery, and you can’t lift or stretch immediately after your operation, so you may wish to postpone your procedure.
Although a tummy tuck scar is typically more extensive than a C-section scar, most patients are happy to exchange them as the tummy tuck incision is placed lower down on the abdomen, where it is easily hidden by underwear or swimwear. The goal of a c-section is to deliver your baby as quickly and safely as possible, whereas a tummy tuck aims to produce an aesthetically pleasing outcome. This is achieved with carefully pre-operative planning of incision closure and placement, avoiding excessive tension on the skin for optimal scar healing.
During a tummy tuck, a lengthy incision is made just above the pubic area, from hip to hip, and a second incision is then made around the umbilicus. Your Karidis Clinic surgeon can then access the underlying abdominal wall up to the border of the rib cage. The abdominal muscles can then be tightened if they have become lax, and a tummy tuck is often used to address another post-pregnancy problem known as diastasis recti or abdominal separation. The abdominal muscles thin and stretch, and a bulge can appear down the midsection. This tightening of the abdominal muscles and the removal of the restrictive C-section scar tissue, helps to address the c section pouch.
Liposuction can be combined with a tummy tuck to remove any stubborn fat deposits, and then the skin is redraped to your new contour, and any excess skin is removed. The umbilicus may be repositioned or reshaped to produce a natural result.
A tummy tuck after a c section is safe if you have fully healed from your previous surgery, you are fit and well, and you have realistic expectations from surgery.
Tips from the Top
Senior Nurse Suzi says:
A balanced healthy diet, rich in protein will help you heal from surgery – try drinking a fresh green juice every morning.
Write down any questions and take them into your consultation with Mr Karidis – that way you won’t forget anything.
Prepare your body for surgery by keeping it soft and supple by moisturising skin twice daily (avoid vitamin E containing products).
Always wear sun block (SPF 50+) over surgery scars to stop pigmentation.
Stock up on comfy lounge wear for after your surgery – front opening tops are ideal.