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Abdominoplasty - Taking the stretch and stress out of Diastasis Recti

April 8, 2024

Diastasis recti – a term that may sound unfamiliar, but a condition that affects many people, in particular, women post-pregnancy. This common issue occurs when the abdominal muscles separate down the mid-stomach, causing back pain, protrusion and stress incontinence. For mothers, the additional stress and physical discomfort of diastasis recti can impact life, all while navigating the challenges of a new baby. Fortunately, it is not a condition to face alone.  

Through abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck, cosmetic and reconstructive plastic surgeons can bring relief to those suffering from diastasis recti. This surgical procedure aims to repair the weakened abdominal muscles by pulling them together, to restore core strength, improving form and function.

Why so common in pregnancy?

Following pregnancy approximately one in two women experience diastasis recti. It occurs when the rectus abdominis muscle, situated at the front of the abdomen, separates on the right and left sides due to the expansion of the belly. This separation resembles an undone zipper and may not fully close back together after childbirth.

Certain factors may increase the risk of developing it, including being pregnant post-age 35, having multiple pregnancies, delivering heavy babies or twins, and having poor muscle tone.

How to identify diastasis recti?

The most noticeable effects of torn abdominal muscles, are:

  1. A visible gap, typically exceeding two finger-widths, in the centre of your abdomen.
  2. The gap becomes more pronounced when you contract your abdomen.
  3. Presence of a bulge or ridge running down the middle of your abdomen.

Is diastasis recti like a hernia?

They share similarities but are different conditions. A hernia occurs when there is a gap in the tissues of the abdominal wall, allowing fat, fluid, or an organ to protrude through. Hernias can present as a bulge or protrusion near the bellybutton, in the groin, or at a previous surgical scar. Some hernias are congenital, others develop gradually over time, with pain and discomfort maximised when coughing, sneezing, lifting heavy objects, or bowel movements.

Is surgery the only answer to repair the abdomen?

For some people, exercise and physical therapy can remedy diastasis recti. However, for others, significant separation of the abdominal muscles may require a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty to repair the muscles and reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen.

If excess skin following pregnancy is also an issue, an extended tummy tuck procedure to address the issue effectively may be performed. The process involves strengthening the weakened abdominal muscles with sutures, repositioning the navel, and removing the surplus skin. Alongside excess skin removal, liposuction can be engaged alongside a tummy tuck to improve body contour.

Treating diastasis recti requires a cosmetic and reconstructive hand with extensive experience performing the procedures involved. So, it is essential to seek a plastic surgeon who specialises in mummy makeovers and abdominoplasty surgery, like our own Brandon Adams, Adam Bialostocki and Dan Butler.  


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