Why do I still look pregnant? That post-baby pooch is diastasis recti and refers to separation of the rectus abdominus muscles (your “six-pack” muscles). This condition can be seen in up to two thirds of women who have been pregnant.
What causes abdominal muscle separation, or diastasis recti?
Abdominal separation is common in women who have pregnancies over 35, have delivered a large baby, had multiple pregnancies or had large weight changes during the pregnancy. It can be seen in up to two thirds of pregnant women in the third trimester. It is most apparent right after delivery of the baby and often gets better for the first several months after delivery. You can also develop diastasis recti with abdominal obesity, this is more common in adult men.
Diastasis recti presents as a protruding bulge anywhere from the center of the upper abdomen between the belly button and the breast bone to a bulge below the belly button. It might be noticeable only when the abdominal muscles are tense, such as during coughing or sit-ups. Sometimes diastasis recti is misdiagnosed as a hernia. It is not uncommon for a patient to initially be referred to a general surgeon for a hernia repair. A good physical exam and imaging with a CT scan and occasionally an MRI will yield the correct diagnosis of diastasis recti.
What are my treatment options?
Because diastasis recti does not represent a true hernia, repair is not covered by insurance. The treatment for diastasis recti is an elective procedure that tightens the muscles and narrows the separation using stitches. Surgical repair of diastasis recti is generally performed through a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) incision to allow adequate access to repair the muscle separation. After the muscle has been brought back together, it is quite easy to remove the extra skin that is frequently present and optimize your overall appearance and proportions.
Repair of diastasis recti is done under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure and usually takes about 2-4 hours, depending on whether liposuction is added or not. After the muscle has been returned to a more natural anatomic position, many of our diastasis recti repair patients tell us that they feel like they have improved core strength, less back discomfort, and an easier time with work or sporting activities that rely on abdominal strength.
Many physically active women undergo tummy tucks with diastasis repair in San Diego. It is important to realize that recovery generally takes 4-6 weeks for most patients to return to normal activities and 6-8 weeks to return to more vigorous work or athletic endeavors. The Restore SD Plastic Surgery team will be with you from your initial phone call all the way through the recovery process and we will guide you along an individualized recovery pathway designed to safely return you to your work and sporting activities as soon as possible.
If you have diastasis recti and are considering having a repair, the best place to start is having an in-person consultation with a plastic surgeon experienced in body contouring surgery. Female board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus is committed to patient safety and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
Give us a call at 858-224-2281 or contact us online to book your complimentary consultation today.