C-section adhesions form from bands of internal scar tissue that are created after a Caesarian section surgery. The scar tissue itself is not a problem, but the adhesion occurs when it sticks to other internal organs and creates complications, such as bowel blockages. Some adhesions cause pain and discomfort, while others may have no symptoms at all.
Adhesions are common in any type of abdominal surgery but tend to happen fairly regularly with C-sections because of the location of the incision site. In ideal cases, scar tissue disappears over a period of time. Since C-sections can decrease blood flow to certain tissues, the process that makes the scar tissue heal and disappear is sometimes interrupted, making the scarring permanent.
The more C-section surgeries a woman has, the more likely she is to develop adhesions, which can cause problems in future pregnancies where the baby is also delivered in this way. Since the delivery doctor has to cut through adhesions in addition to the rest of the skin, tissue, and fat layers, it can take more than five minutes longer to get through to the baby than it took with the first birth. This can be problematic if the baby is in distress and needs to be removed immediately. Third and fourth C-section deliveries can take more than eight and 18 minutes longer, respectively. Nearly half of women who had a second C-section experienced adhesions afterward and 83% of women with four or five C-sections had them.
C-section adhesions can cause chronic pelvic pain in women. This may be notably worse during physical activity or movement because the organs have less ability to flex with body movement, since they are tied down by the scar tissue. These can also form over parts of the small intestine, causing bowel obstruction even years after the original C-section surgery. Symptoms of this condition include vomiting and severe abdominal pain, and this problem is sometimes confused with irritable bowel syndrome or endometriosis.
Symptoms can include feelings of cramping, vomiting, a tender and bloated stomach, and abdominal pain that worsens upon eating. When adhesions are causing pain and interfering with everyday movement, a second surgery can be scheduled to remove the scar tissue. This does have the further complication of possibly producing more scar tissue as a result of that surgery. If C-section adhesions are not causing pain, it is likely that no action will be taken.