During pregnancy, a woman’s body undergoes many changes and these can have a lasting effect even after giving birth. In particular, the appearance of the abdomen is often altered. One condition that can cause this is diastasis recti, which is the separation of the abdominal muscles. This results in a bulge or “pooch” and can make many women feel self-conscious. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery is one possible solution.
What is Diastasis Recti?
The rectus abdominis are the muscles that meet in the middle of your abdomen and are sometimes called the “six-pack” muscles. Diastasis recti is a condition where these muscles separate either completely or partially in the middle. In addition to aesthetic concerns, the separation of these muscles can cause lower back pain, constipation, bloating, and poor posture.
Diastasis recti is most commonly experienced by women after pregnancy. As the uterus stretches, it puts pressure on the rectus abdominis and studies show that as many as 60% of pregnant women experience some degree of abdominal muscle separation. In many cases, this goes away during the postpartum period. However, some women notice that the muscles stay separated long after they have given birth. You can determine whether or not you might have diastasis recti by laying on your back and looking down to see if there is an indent in the middle of your abdomen. However, this diagnosis will need to be confirmed by a physician.
Although pregnancy is the most common cause, there are other factors that can cause a person’s abdominal muscles to separate. Improper exercise technique is one example and this can cause diastasis recti for both men and women. Some examples of what can cause this condition are unsafe or excessive weight lifting or abdominal exercises. In some cases, obesity can also lead to diastasis recti that can still persist after weight loss.
Diastasis Recti Treatments
Many patients benefit from physical therapy and can use specific exercises to help strengthen their core muscles. Your doctor can help create a specialized plan for you for this purpose and may also have you wear a binder or support garment. For women who experience diastasis recti after pregnancy, the condition may resolve itself with time.
Tummy Tuck Surgery
If you have tried other methods to correct diastasis recti and have not had the results you would like, plastic surgery may be an option. We can perform a tummy tuck as part of a mommy makeover or on its own. This surgery tightens the muscles in your abdomen and sutures them back together. The procedure also removes any loose skin to create a more contoured, flatter stomach. It is usually best to wait at least a year after giving birth and to only undergo this type of plastic surgery once you no longer plan to have more children.
Restore Your Appearance After Pregnancy
Dr. Hess and Dr. Sandeen are experienced plastic surgeons in Tucson. They can help correct cosmetic issues that may arise following pregnancy.