(abdominal) Battle Scars

Dermoid cysts. Ovary removal. Chocolate cysts. Complex cysts. Abdominal hernias. Abdominal keloids. Laparotomies. Laparoscopies.

These are my history.

And this is what a history like mine (well, really mine, because these are pics of my actual abs) looks like:

abs

Not pictured: my seven laparoscopy scars (bad lighting) and only a partial picture on the left of my low transverse incision (6-inch horizontal cut, which is the same as a C-section incision).

I’m quite used to the appearance of my abdomen, even though I realize that it doesn’t look normal. As a caveat, I recently lost 18 pounds, so I’m not actually not “used” to right now, since I’m still relishing just being able to fit back into my size 8 jeans! Sorry, just had to throw that in there, as I’m thrilled to be only eight pounds away from my goal weight! Hooray:)

My original scar—which is the vertical one extending from what was once my belly button—became infected post-surgery back in 2004. Like, bad infected. Think smelly pus, antibiotics, and frequent bandage changes. Ick. The result of that infection is that the bottom of that scar is now permanently indented like a miniature frowning face. During my 2012 surgery, my surgeon/RE attempted to fix the scar site, but only so much could be done. It seems I’m stuck with the frowny face for the time being.

My low transverse scar also didn’t heal correctly. This is what I’ve asked Dr. Din to fix during my upcoming surgery:

20170117_094321

See those little black dots? They lie on my incision site and are buried into the skin. After examining them, Dr. Din told me they are a type of surface cyst known as epidermal inclusion cysts. Epidermal inclusion cysts are not painful or dangerous in any way. But mine bother me simply because I’m a picker, and it takes a lot of restraint for me to not pick them out of my skin. Gross, huh? For that reason alone I want them out. They’re a nuisance. It will be nice to see them gone.

As for my upcoming surgery, it will change my scar landscape like this:

beforeafter

Basically, I’m only adding one new incision. The bottom two blue circles are where Dr. Din will go in with his laparoscope over top of my existing scars.

Here’s some tips I’ve picked up when it comes to abdominal surgical scars:

  • Drug store creams meant to reduce scar visibility, such as Mederma, don’t work. Seriously. Save your money. They don’t do a thing, and are very expensive for the amount of actual product that comes in the tube. Plus, who has time to rub ointments made of questionable chemicals onto their skin thrice daily?!
  • Rest! Especially sleep! Even if you feel ready to be up and running a few days post-op, staying rested anyway will help scar healing. Our skin repairs itself while we sleep, so getting lots and lots (and lots…) of sleep will promote quicker healing.
  • Do.Not.Pick! Scabs. Loose hanging sutures. Crust. Blood. Whatever it is, don’t pick it. It doesn’t help scars heal and can lead to…
  • infection. See your doc at the first sign of scar infection. Don’t wait like I did.
  • In the meantime for infection, hydrogen peroxide is your new BFF.
  • Keep your surgical area very clean with gentle (geeeeeeentle) washing and frequent bandage changes.
  • Eventually you may be tempted to allow the skin under the incision site to “breathe,” but resist! If the scar is in a place where clothing will rub against it (like your abdomen), uncovering it will only serve to irritate the surgical site. Keep that bad boy covered up until it’s healed.

There you have it. I hope this helps someone facing an abdominal surgery in the future.

And if not, well, you got some stellar views of why you don’t want to have endometriosis.

 

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