Today, a long standing client asked me a really important question, and she has generously given me permission to share her story (part 1) with you. At the beginning of our treatment, she asked:
“Is it ever too late to start to work on scar tissue?” In brief the answer is
“No. You can work on scar tissue of any age”.
Having worked with her a long time, the fact that she has a scar from a hysterectomy from 22 years ago had not been raised in recent years. Neck and shoulder tension and general relaxation were usually a higher priority. Though the scar itself presented with no particular pain, she was curious to see if the quality of the skin around the scar could be improved with scar tissue work. The scar runs vertically from the navel and at the base, the scar is dense and tethered. From this “knot” of tissue there is a lateral tightening. Most notably the tethering of the tissue beneath the scar meant that there was an overhang of belly and a sense of a lack of integration of the tissues, this is a common experience for huge number of women with hysterectomy or c-section scars and nothing to be ashamed of. There is little sensation all around the scar, it is numb and there has been two decades of dissociation from it, she tells me “no one ever touches it, I don’t even touch it”. I am deeply honoured to have built up enough trust so that I can touch it and reconnect with this precious area. An area central to our energy as women, deep core energy and as such a potentially vulnerable area for treatment. Throughout the treatment I remind her that the touch must feel comfortable the whole time, that is is a good idea to keep her attention on the sensations she feels so that she can remain present and in control of the treatment. It is easy, particularly after surgery to dissociate from an area, climb out of it mentally in order to avoid pain or discomfort. But pain is not conducive to the effectiveness of this treatment, it is very gentle and pleasant to receive and unlike surgery,
investing the area with your consciousness and
paying compassionate curiosity to the sensations, is a crucial part of reigniting the healing process.
Throughout the treatment, memories of the post-operative period surfaced and she recalled that there had been some profound postural changes after the procedure which she hadn’t attributed to the surgery at the time but now realises could very well be a repercussion of it. Making sense and finding meaning on our healing journeys is so important, it can validate our experience and allow us to make informed, empowered choices. At the end of the treatment, maybe a little surprised at how much the initial enquiry into the scar had yielded, she said to me, “Thank you, I feel like I’m at the beginning of a new chapter. I’m so grateful for your skills and sensitivity.”
Let us see how the story unfolds…
As this client only became aware of retrospectively, abdominal procedures can have a huge impact on our postural integrity, as the three-dimensional fascial matrix is interrupted through surgical incision this can lead to dysfunctional tissue communication and asymmetry in movement patterns. The impact of surgery can show up in quite haphazard ways, sometimes making it difficult to immediately determine the cause. Fascia informed scar work is tissue led, meaning that the enquiry into where patterns are showing up in your body is led by palpating, observing and connecting with your body, so that even referred repercussions of injury or surgery are incorporated into the treatment strategy, the focus is not always on the scar itself so much as integrating the healing patterns for better function and versatility of your whole body.
A note on trust and safety; if you would like to work with me, we can spend as long as you need working on other areas of the body to build up your body’s trust of my hands and my approach, there is no pressure to go directly to scar work, for some people the invitation from the body is immediate, some people need longer. If you have a lot of trauma around the scar then we need to work slowly and find good communication strategies first for how you give language to
the feedback you are getting from your body so that you are never overwhelmed. There is quite a difference between intellectually trusting and trusting with your body, it is one thing to think - oh this person has the qualifications and comes recommended, I should trust them - to physically arriving at the feeling of being deeply safe.
Achieving a sense of deep safety in your own body is part of the journey of fascia informed bodywork and scar integration. Only when the body feels safe do we really drop into the well regulated state of the nervous system in which healing can occur.
one final note to add...I am always very grateful to be given permission to share stories, however, please be reassured that I do not see your healing process as part of my marketing material. Your treatments are yours, they are confidential, they are precious. Mostly, I find that that having your story shared can be a reflective and validating experience, if you ever give me permission to share anything that you retrospectively would prefer to unshare, that it absolutely fine and you must let me know.