What is scar tissue? Scar Tissue/Adhesions, are thick fibrous band-like scar tissues that bind 2 parts of your tissue that are not normally joined together. Scar tissue is commonly referred to as "spiderwebs” or “plastic wrap” formed around organs.
Why does scar tissue develop? In attempt to repair itself , scar tissue develops when the body's repair mechanisms respond to any tissue disturbance, for example; Surgery, Infection Trauma, or Radiation. Adhesions can occur anywhere, although most form in the stomach, pelvis, and heart. “Repair cells” within the body cannot tell the difference between one organ and another. If an organ undergoes repair and comes into contact with another part of itself, or another organ, scar tissue may form to connect the 2 surfaces together.
Why does abdominal scar tissue develop after surgery? Abdominal organs are handled by the surgical team and are therefore shifted temporarily from their normal positions for lengths of time that the body is not known to do naturally. The body’s response to receiving signals for repair, is not able to tell the difference between artificial repair and the need to compensate for the injury. Abdominal scar tissue differs from other scar tissues in the body because their nature is to cause tissues to “stick together”, whereas other internal tissues & organs have slippery surfaces “preventing sticking together” For some people, this stimulates excessive formation of scar tissue.
TYPES OF ABDOMINAL SURGERIES: Abdominal Aortic Bypass, Appendectomy, Cesarean section, Hysterectomy, Partial Colectomy, Gallbladder removal, Inguinal Hernia surgery, Exploratory laparotomy (opening of the abdominal cavity ).
Commonly used abdominal muscle names? Pancreas, Liver, Transverse colon, Gallbladder, Stomach, ascending and descending Colon, small intestine, large intestines. All muscles play an important role as all upper body/torso movement comes from this area of the body.
Types of pain caused by scar tissue: ● Abdominal adhesions cause pain by pulling nerves. Cramp like pain in the stomach, gas pains and shooting pains that can last seconds to minutes ● Pericardial (Heart & Blood Vessels) adhesions may cause chest pain ● Pelvic adhesions may cause pain in organs within the pelvis, such as the Uterus, Ovaries, Fallopian tubes, or Bladder and usually occurs after surgery. ● Not all scar tissue causes pain, however pain can develop over time. If an area has been operated on multiple times, especially on sensitive organs and nerves, pain is highly likely to occur.
Dangers of Scar tissue: ● Can restrict motion of small intestines that passes food through the digestive system, at times the bowel can become blocked ( immediate attention is required at this point.*) ● Can restrict blood supply depending on location of the body.
Prevention There is no way for you to prevent scar tissue ! This problem is one of the reasons why doctors are so vigilant to recommend abdominal surgery, only when it is necessary. However, there ARE “efforts” that can be made. During surgery a conscientious doctor will take steps to try and minimize the formation of adhesions with efforts in shortening surgical time, keeping the tissues moist, “gentle” handling of any tissues or organs and using “starch-free” and latex gloves. Several surgical products have been developed to try to help prevent adhesions from forming during surgery. In some instances, “film-like sheets” are used between organs or body surfaces after large, open surgical procedures.
Statistics ● Scar tissue occurs in up to 93% of people who undergo abdominal or pelvic surgery ● Adhesions cause about 60% of small bowel obstructions in adults, and can cause chronic pelvic pain. 5 Things you can do to help yourself recover after Abdominal Surgery: ● KEEP MOVING !! (i.e.Walking) Even in the pain, keep pushing through it. It helps to improve range of motion, flexibility and avoid keloids (extra scar tissue growth), and increases blood supply to restricted areas. ● Stretching; helps to align the collagen fibers allowing them to return to normal and allows oxygen to flow, and expand pathways of blood flow (i.e.Yoga, Pilates,Tai chi) ● Therapy: Breathing techniques, Massage, Physiotherapy, Water therapy (pool exercise for gentle resistance), Float tank with Epsom salts (verify if it is safe for you if you have other preexisting health conditions*. ) ● Blood thinners: check in with your health care provider if blood thinner is necessary for prevention of blood clots. If you are on thinners, bring awareness to diet; especially foods that are natural blood thinners/high in vitamin K as this can thin the blood too much or cause an adverse effects causing blood to thicken. Generally it is recommendable to avoid fried, fatty foods, that make you feel “sluggish” and incorporate more “energy” foods like nuts, beans and greens into your diet. ● Pain medications: avoid overuse of opioids and pain medications. In fact, try to avoid it period, if possible. Most pain medications have side effects of constipation, effects on mental alertness, strain on kidneys and liver, numbing effects and contain addictive qualities, all which can have adverse effects on recovery toward overall wellbeing.