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vertical scar worries vertical scar worries

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Unread 02-11-2008, 11:54 AM
vertical scar worries

I had a TAH on January 2, 2008. Physically, I guess I am doing great. I have a desk job, and was back to work in two weeks. Pain has been minimal. BUT, the scar really bothers me.

I have a horizontal bikini line incision from two prior surgeries, and my doctor promised me that he was going to cut horizontally along these prior incisions. Possibly stupidly, I opted to be cut open (horizontally!) because I (a) did not want any additional scars, (b) was comfortable with the scar I already had, and (c) was really looking forward to wearing my bikini this summer without the enormous uterus and fibroids. I am a relatively thin person, in good shape, and in my mid-30s, and had a 27"uterus and three "grapefruit" sized fibroids. Plus, the doc said that if I opted for the laproscopic surgery, there was a 60% chance, they'd have to cut me open, anyway, due to the size of the uterus and fibroids. So, I figured opting for the evil I knew (i.e., the horizontal, bikini line scar, in the same place as the previous scar), was better than the evil didn't know and opted for the non-laproscopic surgery.

Surgery went well. However, I found out that my doctor had cut me open vertically at 11:00 p.m. that night, when I started bleeding uncontrollably from the incision. I think I hyperventilated from the shock. As I said, I think I am recovering well (after the second surgery to correct the bleeding problems). But, I just can't get past this scar. Every time I see a commercial or tv show with a women whose midriff is showing, I just want to cry! I feel deformed! I have seen lots of posts from women with vertical incisions. Will the scar get better? Will I EVER be able to wear a two-piece bathing suit (or even jeans) again without feeling like a leper? Is there anything anyone can recommend to help me get over the complete sadness I feel every time I look at that scar?
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Unread 02-11-2008, 01:08 PM
vertical scar worries

Hi (((fun2run))) I think I can relate to how you feel. It wasn't my hysterectomy, but another surgery a year later left me with a huge vertical incision. I woke up looking like I had a giant zipper from breastbone to pubic bone. My DR had told me I would have to have a vertical incision, but somehow seeing it in real life was still traumatic. DBF glanced at it briefly and was horrified, which didn't help - he wouldn't look at my tummy again for months afterwards. (My kids - boys - thought it was "cool", however. )

My scar became hypertrophic as it healed - it was ugly, red, raised and ropy. It itched and hurt and I was constantly aware of it. My surgeon had me try several things (Vitamin E, scar strips, Mederma) to soften it up; each one helped a little but nothing really made a substantial difference. Then he sent me to a plastic surgeon, who prescribed Aldara cream (an off-label use); it helped a little more. I was already a couple of months post op by then, though, and the incision had healed - it's not something you can use earlier on. In fact, the first few weeks post op I was only allowed to let the soapy shower water run over it, nothing else.

It's now five years later, and my scar is finally starting to fade. It will never go away completely and will always be a major feature of my body. Since then I've also had two lumpectomies for breast cancer, so I'm also dealing with a scar (thankfully small and not too bad) from those. My body image has taken a major hit over all of this. Really the only thing that's helped is time - well, that and the fact that, now that the incisions have healed, DBF looks at them as my 'battle scars' and nothing to be ashamed or embarassed about. I do wear jeans, but will probably never dare wear a two piece bathing suit again unless it's at home alone.

I hope you are one of the lucky ones for whom the scar fades more than mine did. I know I am in the minority in that not everyone's scar becomes hypertrophic as it heals. After the incision has healed, ask your DR what you can use to try to minimize the scarring. If, after a few months, you're still not happy with how well it's fading, I would ask for a referral to a plastic surgeon if it's still bothering you as much as mine did me. Incidentally, I was told that if the Aldara didn't fade it enough, I could have cortisone shots in the incision, but that they are quite painful; and that I was not a good candidate for scar revision surgery as I would probably re-form the same type of scar again.

I keep telling myself that who we are, and our worth as women, has nothing to do with which organs have been removed or how many scars we have on our bodies. On an intellectual level I do believe that; however, I still occasionally have twinges of sadness when I catch a look at myself in the mirror while I'm getting dressed. I hope that one day I can smile at myself in the mirror again, and I hope you can, too. Just know that it's pretty likely that your scar won't bother anyone else nearly as much as it does you.

You have already been through a lot. Best wishes for a smooth recovery.
Unread 02-11-2008, 05:43 PM
vertical scar worries

Hi there Fun2Run!

I have a vertical scar from my TAH/BSO also from just slightly left (about 1/4") of my belly button to about 1 inch into the pubic area.

After a week of being home, I took digital pictures of the gift basket and the big plant arrangement that my work sent so I could send the pics with the thank you that I wrote. Well I was in for a shock as I downloaded my camera onto the computer and saw my pretty smooth white belly from pics my DH took pre-op for me. I almost cried.

Its a trade-off really. To know that you are here for your loved ones (I had a pre-cancerous condition) instead of going untreated. I can deal with the scar. The people in your life don't love you for the externals. When you get to your 40s (I am 46), you stop caring about what other people will think and you are more sure of yourself. If you are comfortable in a bikini, then wear it. If people stare, well that is their issue, not yours. But I am not a two-piece sort of person myself, but did see a 2 piece style that was a hi-cut that came up to the belly button from LLBean. I might consider that if I tone up my other flabby areas! Land's-end has some good suits too.

I stated on another post, that now we can go swimming (after clearance from dr) ANYTIME we want - woo hoo - no more trying to figure about what week that trip is falling on.

BIG KUDOS to you for getting back to work so quickly! Mine was Jan 8th and I am not going back to work until Feb 18th, also to a desk job.

I have been using Vitamin E ointment on my incision. We used it on my DHs knees when he had emergency knee surgery on both knees in 1997. You can barely see his scars now. By next summer it will look so much better than this summer and by the time you are my age, you will likely not even see it. It may eventually take a tan too. (my DHs knees do)

There is hope my dear, and everyone loves you for your insides and that is where we have the most beauty any how.

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Unread 02-11-2008, 07:52 PM
vertical scar worries

Hi Fun 2 Run,
I too had a vertical TAH. My scar however, is not that visible. It was at first. I am now 11 weeks post op, so I would say yes, it fades. The first couple of weeks I used paper tape on the incision and I think that really helped it not be raised and ropy. After it was healed the only thing I have used on it is Palmer's Cocoa Butter for stretch marks. I don't know why that stuff works, but it reallys seems to. My friend put it on her wrist after her carpal tunnel surgery and her scar went away within a few days.
If, for some reason, your scar doesn't fade, then so what?! You have a battle scar, you're a survivor, you've survived a major surgery and all the pain you had before, during and after it. I hope that you will realize your self worth and not let something like a scar influence it. (I know, easier said than done maybe, but true!)

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