Should a laparoscopy scar bother you? Is it normally painful? These are some of the question you might have in your mind. This article will not only explain the underlying causes of laparoscopic scars and break down the healing process, but also explain what often makes them painful and how you can ensure minimal risk of scarring.
What Is a Laparoscopy Procedure?
Also referred to as keyhole surgery – to suggest the small size of the incision involved – or minimally invasive surgery, laparoscopic surgery is a modern surgical technique that involves making small incisions of between 0.5 and 1.5 centimeters as opposed to the large incisions involved in the traditional open surgery.
TV monitors are usually used to display magnified images obtained from the point of surgery using a special instrument featuring a small tube, a camera and a source of light, called laparoscope. Laparoscopy surgery is usually used for abdominal and pelvic operations.
Laparoscopy Scar- Laparoscopic Surgery Scars
During laparoscopic surgery, one or more small incisions (cuts) are usually made in the abdomen through which the surgeon inserts the laparoscope, tiny surgical tools, and a small tube that is used to pump some gas (carbon dioxide) into the abdomen. Once through the surgeon then lets the gas out before stitching the incisions and applying a dressing.
The small size of laparoscopic surgery incisions also means not only minimal pain and bleeding after the procedure and shorter recovery time but also small laparoscopic surgery scars.
According to the Center for Pancreatic and Biliary Diseases of the University of Southern California, laparoscopic surgery can also involve “less internal scarring when the procedures are performed in a minimally invasive fashion compared to standard open surgery”.
Even then, the formation of scar tissue cannot be ruled out regardless of how minimally invasive the procedure is. As a matter of fact there is always the risk of formation of adhesions from the internal laparoscopic scar tissue, just as with open surgery. The risk is however lower for laparoscopic surgery compared to open surgery.
Adhesions are a common occurrence after abdominal and pelvic procedures including laparoscopic surgery, but the risk of adhesion is relatively lower with laparoscopic surgery than with open surgery.
An adhesion is in simple terms an internal scar tissue that binds that attaches to the tissues surrounding it, sometimes binding the surfaces of two tissues or organs that are naturally not connected.
Laparoscopic scars will nevertheless improve over time, but if they bother you a year or more down the line, they can always be reduced using numerous options ranging from silicone sheets and creams to laser therapy, surgical revision e.g. punch excision, and dermabrasion, to subcision, steroid injection, and radiotherapy.
How to minimize the laparoscopic scar
You can minimize the chances of extensive scarring from laparoscopic surgery by observing the surgeon’s post-op guidelines to the letter in order to ensure no infection takes place and the wound heals smoothly, eating balanced diet, and protecting the scar from direct sunlight as it heals.
What causes Laparoscopy Scar Tissue
Laparoscopy scar tissue is usually the result of the body’s attempt to heal the injury causes by the surgical incisions. The body responds by forming a scab (the result of blood clotting) and moving fibroblast cells from the surrounding tissues move into the incision wound beneath the scab. The fibroblast cells then starts to accumulate collagen into the site of wounding. Collagen strengthens the wound as it heals.
The build up continues for some time and is manifested as the scar tissue. The build up of collagen is normally accompanied by an increase in blood circulation during the first few days and this is the reason why scars appear reddened during the early stages.
The increased circulation and buildup of collagen eventually ceases and the scar tissue starts to flatten and become pale. This continues over time, eventually leading to a less noticeable, healed scar. Laparoscopic scar tissue is – as with any other type of scar – however permanent and will not go away completely; it only fades away.
Laparoscopy Scar Pain
Laparoscopy scar pain may be an indication of adhesions. These are in simple terms band of internal scar tissue that have attached themselves to other organs and tissues.
During their formation, adhesions often trap in nerves. This creates pressure points which may then result in pain. Not all adhesions however will cause problems. Sometimes you might never even know that you have them.
Painful scar tissues usually respond well to scar release therapies the likes of Myofascial Release, Active Release Technique and Graston Technique. These are administered by chiropractors. Talk to your GP about it; s/he may be able to offer you recommendations.
Laparoscopy Scar Healing
Laparoscopic scars will heals rather quickly especially considering that they are normally very small. The red, inflamed look will most likely have improved in a week, but it might be 6 to 12 months before the scar has healed completely.
By 1 year, the scars are very likely to have flattened and turned pale enough to blend in with the rest of the skin, even though they will still be there. Yes, all scars are a permanent phenomenon, no matter how invisible they are.
A few patients, especially those with darker skin, will develop keloid scars which are raised scar tissues that transcend the original borders of the incision. Steroid injection and laser therapy can help to flatten such scars.
To ensure proper healing of the scar, it is important to protect it from sunlight by covering it with clothes and applying a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 when going outdoors for at least one year.
Laparoscopy to Remove Scar Tissue
Laparoscopy is used to diagnose and remove scar tissue from the abdomen – such as those resulting from endometriosis – and the pelvic cavity, including adhesions. Laparoscopic treatment is as a matter of fact the recommended treatment option for adhesions since adhesions grow back in most cases if open surgery (laparotomy) is used.