Do you have muscle separation of the abdomen?

Tummy tuck Lake Norman, Charlotte, and surrounding area

After pregnancy, many women struggle with their body shape. Even if they succeed in losing the baby weight, it’s common for the tummy to still have a rounded or “pooched” shape. This is often due to a condition involving separation of the muscles of the abdomen, medically known as diastasis recti.

What is diastasis recti? Why does it happen? Does it only happen to pregnant women? Do those exercises to correct it really work?

What is diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti is a separation of the two halves of the rectus abdominis, which is the “six pack” muscle along the front of the abdomen. This muscle runs all the way from the bottom of the rib cage down to the pubic bone. It consists of two halves, one on each side, separated by a band of connective tissue called the linea alba.

During pregnancy, the two halves of the muscle are pulled away from each other, as the baby grows inside of the belly. This stretches out the connective tissue along the midline, between the left and right sides of the muscle. Although it has some degree of elasticity, stretched connective tissue often doesn’t fully rebound, and so the separation of the two halves of the muscle tends to remain after the pregnancy is over.

Although it’s the most common cause, pregnancy is not the only cause of diastasis recti. In certain cases, people (either men or women) who have never been pregnant may also experience this. Some people have it after a massive weight loss, usually along with a lot of extra loose skin. Additionally, certain types of core exercise can put a lot of stress on the linea alba and can lead to diastasis over many years, if done too intensely.

What can be done to heal diastasis recti?

If you have diastasis recti, then there are a few different methods you can try for healing it. The place to start is usually conservative treatments, including certain exercise methods or physical therapy. Studies have not consistently shown that these methods produce results for a majority of women, so don’t set your expectations too high or spend too much money on the “incredible diastasis healing programs” that you may see advertised. However, it’s worth trying conservative treatment before proceeding to surgery.

If these methods are not successful in restoring the woman’s abdomen to the desired state, then surgery may be considered. There are a few different surgical methods that can be used.

If diastasis recti is the only concern, then a laparoscopic repair might be appropriate. This uses a few tiny incisions, through which surgical instruments and a camera can be inserted. The two halves of the rectus muscle are sewn back together, and a surgical mesh can be used to strengthen the weak area if necessary. This procedure addresses only the muscle separation; it does not remove any excess skin or tighten up any other tissues that have also been affected by pregnancy. Because of this, it’s only appropriate for certain patients.

For women who have been pregnant, there are often other problems besides the diastasis recti. Because of this, many patients who are looking for diastasis repair would be best served by a tummy tuck. This procedure includes not only diastasis repair, but also the removal of excess skin. This can provide a full rejuvenation of the belly, with a tighter and smoother appearance. Additionally, studies have shown that a tummy tuck can help women with common post-pregnancy health problems like lower back pain and incontinence. If a woman also has other concerns about her appearance, such as breast sagging, then the tummy tuck can be combined with other procedures for a complete mommy makeover.

Do you have diastasis recti? Are you considering repair or a tummy tuck Lake Norman area?

Dr. Eric MilesIf you’re among the many people who have diastasis recti, and you’d like to learn more about your options, please schedule a consultation with Dr. Erik Miles. He never tries to pressure anyone into having surgery; he knows that plastic surgery isn’t the right answer for everyone. Instead, he’ll give you an honest assessment of your situation and your options. If you later decide that a tummy tuck is the right option for you, you’ll know that you’re in great hands, with a plastic surgeon who’s double board certified and has over 15 years of experience.

Dr. Erik J. Miles
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