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3 c-section shelf treatments to know about

Diet and exercise can't reverse a c-section shelf, but these stomach-flattening postpartum treatments can help

While I marvel at what my body did for me, growing a baby from a few cells to a tiny, screaming human, I feel slightly less enthusiastic about my c-section scar.

Considered by many to be a badge of honour, mine is ‘stuck’ tight to my abdomen causing a bulge of scar and fat tissue to ‘shelf’ or hang over the top. A c-section incision is a pretty tricky one to heal cleanly. Usually a horizontal cut about 10 to 20cm long is made just below your bikini line. The layers the surgeon slices through include the womb, peritoneum, rectus muscle, fascia, subcutaneous fat and skin.

“This procedure creates scar tissue that’s multiple layers deep. Skin restrictions or tightness in any layer can contribute to an overhang or shelf-like appearance where the skin and superficial fascia is unable to drain and hangs over the tight scar,” explains postnatal Chartered Physiotherapist, Clinical Pilates Instructor and Founder of The Mummy MOT, Maria Elliott.

If you’re too tired owing to yet another sleep regression or rage-inducing school run to seek advice on what to do about your ‘shelf’ - I’ve done the leg (and belly) work for you. From scar massage to surgery, we asked a leading expert for the tummy-focussed treatments you really should consider.

Thread lift

Thread lifts have recently gained traction as postpartum patients seek out non-surgical, minimally invasive procedures to lift the stomach and tighten abdominal skin.

“When threads are inserted under the skin of the stomach at intervals, they tighten and lift loose or saggy stomach skin,” shares EV Expert, Vascular Surgeon and Aesthetic Practitioner, Giuseppe Serpieri. This tightening of the skin improves the overhang associated with a c-section shelf, while over time the threads – which are easily absorbed by the body – generate collagen around the tissue to tighten and improve the overhang of skin long-term.

 “Results are pretty incredible for a procedure that takes less than half an hour, is performed under local anaesthetic, and the only downtime requirement is to avoid strenuous exercise for a week to ten days,” enthuses Serpieri.

Laser liposuction

This innovative and minimally invasive liposuction technique was designed for the removal of unwanted, hard-to-lose fat pockets. “It’s particularly useful for postpartum tummies that do not respond well to diet and exercise alone. Tissue can stick beneath and around a c-section scar, which can lead to fat pockets above and below, resulting in this shelf-like appearance,” says Serpieri.

Used to rupture the lipid cells in superficial tissues right beneath the skin of the shelf or fat pocket, it works by liquifying them, allowing the fat cells to be sucked away via a cannula.

“The heat produced also coagulates blood vessels to minimise bruising, cutting down healing time and stimulating the production of collagen, which will leave the over stretched skin firmer and tighter following the procedure,” explains Serpieri.

Done and dusted and wrapped in a belly band within an hour, you can see results and get back to your regular activities straight away.


With advancing technology in the field, the c-section shelf can be lifted, drained and the adhesions released in the deep layers of the scar,” shares Elliott.

Lymphatouch is a myofascial decompression therapy and lymphatic drainage device that removes the fluid build-up around your c-section scar, breaks down scar restrictions and releases tight fascia. It also uses mechanical vibration to stimulate cell healing and reduce any residual pain.

“Mums really hate this overhang, but combining hands-on physiotherapy and Lymphatouch can greatly improve the appearance, the sensation and the ability to be able to exercise and strengthen the deeper core," adds Elliot who incorporates Lymphatouch in her Mummy MOT package.

Giuseppe Serpieri, Doctor

Giuseppe Serpieri attained his Medical Degree at the University of Turin in 1986 and the Specialist Qualification as...

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