The Secrets of Rectus Diastasis Repair

Do you constantly find yourself sucking in your stomach, even when you aren’t in a swimsuit? Does your lower back ache after long days of activity? Have you noticed that your core strength just isn’t what it used to be after having kids or after your weight changed? If the answer is yes, you may be dealing with a sneaky condition called rectus diastasis. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I see this issue all the time during my tummy tuck consultations. Many of my patients are shocked to learn their vertically oriented abdominal muscles have separated away from the midline and are causing many of these issues.

Let me spill the tea on this common problem and let me tell you how I can fix it for good during a tummy tuck!

The Devilish Details on Diastasis Recti

Rectus diastasis occurs when the large washboard ab muscles in the middle of your belly, called the rectus abdominis muscle, splits away from the midline. This creates a gap between the two vertically oriented muscles, allowing the inside of your belly to spill forward and creating that beloved “pooch” that so many of my patients dislike.

Some key details on diastasis recti:

  • Caused by pregnancy, weight changes, or other conditions
  • It worsens with multiple pregnancies
  • Up to 60% of pregnant women will have this condition
  • Genetics and connective tissue disorders can also increase the risk
  • It doesn’t usually resolve on its own

Do You Have a “Mom Tum”? 3 Ways to Tell

Many of my patients have no clue they’re dealing with diastasis recti. Here are some tell-tale signs:

1. The Belly Bulge

Do you notice a pooch or bulge right around your belly button that sticks out no matter how much you diet and exercise? That’s likely diastasis recti.

2. The Push Test

Lie on your back, knees bent. Place your fingers right above your belly button. Now lift your head slightly. See any separation between the ab muscles? That’s a rectus diastasis.

3. Back Pain and Core Changes

If you have new back pain or feel your core strength isn’t the same, diastasis recti could be the cause. When those separated muscles are misaligned, they struggle to properly stabilize your spine and pelvis.

My Plan: Stitch You Back Together

The good news is that  I can surgically bring your separated belly muscles back together during a tummy tuck. This is called a diastasis recti repair or abdominoplasty with plication.

After I access your abdominal muscles through the tummy tuck incision, I use meticulous suturing techniques to coerce these muscles back to the midline.  In simple terms, I  tighten and reconstruct your muscle fascia. This process takes me around 20 extra minutes during surgery but it yields huge rewards.

Recovery Considerations After Diastasis Recti Repair

I won’t lie – having your ab muscles repaired during a tummy tuck intensifies recovery for the first couple of weeks. You’ll experience significant pain when moving from lying to sitting up and sitting up to standing. This discomfort is temporary but prepare to take it slow for the first week or two.

Patients can usually resume light activity after 4 weeks and core exercises after 6-8 weeks. Remember, I’m not just repairing skin and fat – I’m reconstructing your internal abdominal wall!  Patience pays off when it comes to diastasis recti recovery!  And a little tip: a TAP block can really decrease the discomfort during the first few days after surgery.

See the Life-Changing Results!

Check out these before and after photos of one of my patients who needed a diastasis recti during a tummy tuck. By bringing her severely separated abdominal muscles back together and removing the excess skin and fat, I gave her back her pre-baby belly – and confidence!  She couldn’t be happier.

If you’re battling an annoying belly pooch, worsening back pain, or core strength changes that don’t seem to get better, come see me for an exam. I can quickly diagnose rectus diastasis and recommend the best surgical options to get your body back on track. You don’t have to live with the effects of diastasis recti – I can help!