Have you ever wondered what happens on the inside of a surgical scar? I recall about 25 years ago my grandfather coming home from an abdominal surgery with staples and buttons attached to the outside of the incision…he looked like an alien to me!
Fortunately, the days of the Frankenstein looking scars are virtually gone due to medical advancements like dissolving stitches and surgical adhesives. Visible scar or not, however, a lot is still happening under the skin. Within a few hours of surgery there are adhesions being created by the body. Adhesions are our body’s natural way to heal and repair an injury or wound left from surgery.
They are fibrous bands that form abnormal connections extending from one tissue across another. While some adhesions do not cause problems, others can prevent muscle tissues and organs from moving freely. Organs can become twisted, obstructed or pulled from their normal position, creating pain and discomfort within our bodies.
Abdominal adhesions are a common complication of surgery and occur in a majority of people who have had abdominal or pelvic procedures. Interestingly enough, we may not notice any symptoms of adhesions or internal scar tissue for months or years after the initial surgery. An unfortunate fact is that adhesions are unavoidable in surgery, and the main conventional medical treatment for adhesions is more surgery. What! More surgery leads to more adhesions. “Where is the logic in this approach…someone please find me a treatment to relieve my discomfort,” you say.
I have the answer…Abdominal Integrative Therapy! This is a holistic and non-invasive technique I have perfected over the last decade. Deep abdominal breathwork is integrated with massage to break up abdominal adhesions and increase circulation to damaged and restricted tissue. As a holistic health practitioner dedicated to abdominal health, I have seen thousands of people with post-surgical abdominal adhesions ranging in severity from major to minor. All have received relief from Abdominal Integrative Therapy…I do mean all!
People routinely visit my office with more abdominal surgeries than I can count. Their colon, appendix, bladder, uterus or other organs and pathogenic tissues may have been repaired or removed. They may have tightness, pulling or nerve discomfort near the incision scar. Sandra, a patient of mine that was referred by her OB/GYN had these exact symptoms. She was a 35 year old mother that had been suffering from debilitating nerve pain following the caesarean delivery of her child two years prior. Her only request was the ability to play actively with her children again. The adhesions on Sandra’s lower pelvis were stiffened and unpliable. This over contracted fascia resulted in her nerves being trapped, suffocated and starved of vital oxygen and circulation. Abdominal Integrative Therapy proved to be the breakthrough for Sandra. She was elated that all of her scar tissue nerve pain was gone. Afterwards, she described the feeling that a virtual 24/7 tightened belt around her abdomen simply disappeared.
Treating abdominal or pelvic adhesions is only fully successful if the practitioner is also able to loosen any respiratory diaphragm restrictions. The diaphragm is our major muscle for breathing. The descending aorta passes through it, delivering blood supply to the abdomen and lower extremities. It is located at the base of the sternum and attaches to the lower rib cage. Deep abdominal breathing is necessary to aide in the separation of fibrous tissue and provides an internal massage to adhered organs, making it a key factor in reestablishing healthy tissue.
A study in Digestive Surgery [i] showed that more than 90% of patients develop adhesions following open abdominal surgery and 55–100% of women develop adhesions following pelvic surgery. Since there is usually a time lapse between surgery and symptoms, many get misdiagnosed. A woman can even develop fertility issues from pelvic adhesions that surround an ovary, fallopian tube or uterus. Common laparoscopic procedures used to treat endometriosis will often leave a women’s pelvis with unwanted scar tissue and adhesions.
Often we will not connect a surgery such as gall bladder removal, hysterectomy or hernia repair with digestive problems occurring months or years later. A small bowel obstruction is a significant consequence of post-surgical adhesions and can occur outside the area of the incision scar. Abdominal connective tissue has a spiderweb like structure that provides a specific residence for each organ. The characteristic of this web is such that when you pull one end all contents (organs) can be shifted. When post-surgical adhesions are involved, abdominal organs are more prone to kinking and twisting.
One possible complication can be a bowel obstruction caused when an adhesion pulls or kinks the small intestine and prevents the flow of content through the digestive tract. I have seen progressive bowel adhesions that limit a person to a liquid only diet. You can imagine how the inability to eat solid food takes a heavy toll on one’s emotional state. The same process of deep abdominal breathwork with massage is applied for relieving any bowel obstructions and restoring the patient to a normal diet.
My advice is to get any and all scars massaged no matter how old or new. Remember to allow four to six weeks after surgery before getting treatment. It is always a good idea to consult with the therapist and or physician before getting any type of treatment. I have learned that people are always relieved when they finally understand where there discomfort originates and even more astonished with the results after receiving an Abdominal Integrative Therapy session. I invite you to look beyond the scar as I did with my grandfather. The healing connections that lie beneath the surface may provide the answer for which you have been searching.
[i] Liakakos, T; Thomakos, N; Fine, PM; Dervenis, C; Young, RL (2001). “Peritoneal adhesions: etiology, pathophysiology, and clinical significance.
Recent advances in prevention and management”. Digestive surgery
written by Alex Jackson
Alex Jackson LMT, NCTMB is a Holistic Health Practitioner, specializing in Traditional Maya Medicine and Abdominal Integrative Therapies. He is the owner of Centered Spirit centeredspirit.com.