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How To Address Bulging Abdominal Muscles – Diastasis Recti

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By Jerome Edelstein, MD

Pregnancy results in a number of changes to the body, including fat redistribution, loss of breast fullness, stretch marks and excess, loose skin caused by considerable stretching of the abdomen to accommodate the growing baby. In addition, the rectus abdominis, or “six pack”, which is the paired muscle running up and down the torso, also expands during pregnancy, often separating the abdominal muscles at the midline. This condition, referred to as diastasis recti, contributes to the paunch after pregnancy.

It can also lead to the development of a visible bulge in the center of the abdomen, particularly when abdominal muscles are tense. In addition to its aesthetic concerns, diastasis recti may also result in problems such as pelvic instability, uterine tilt, and digestive issues. Luckily, abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck, can effectively address diastasis recti while simultaneously reducing skin laxity.

Signs of Diastasis Recti

Women who suffer from diastasis recti have a visible ridge or protruding bulge following childbirth. While it is not uncommon to carry excess weight post-pregnancy, if your abdomen remains swollen six or more months postpartum, it may be a result of separated abdominal muscles.

Suitable Candidates

While in some instances, exercise can improve diastasis recti, if your condition is significant or unresponsive to exercise, you may be a good candidate for a tummy tuck. Before undergoing this procedure, it is important to be at a stable weight and in good overall health. Weight fluctuations following the procedure will negatively impact the results so it is necessary for candidates to lose excess weight prior to scheduling abdominoplasty surgery.

The Procedure

The surgery itself will vary depending on the patient’s individual needs. For women whose primary concern is diastasis recti, it may only be necessary to tighten the abdominal muscles, which can be accomplished using a FAB tummy tuck. Patients who also have considerable skin laxity, however, may require a full tummy tuck in order to repair diastasis recti and remove excess skin. In this case, the procedure will involve a larger incision and involve reconstructing the naval. In either case, the separated abdominal muscles will be stitched together, and their original position will be restored.As the rectus abdominis is repaired, it helps to sculpt the patient’s figure, providing a greater contour to the body.  As such, it is commonly requested as part of a “mommy makeover.” However, it is best to wait until you finish childbearing before undergoing abdominoplasty, as future pregnancies may affect the results and it is possible that diastasis recti may return.

For some women, changes that take place in the body during and after pregnancy can be discouraging. It is possible, however, to achieve a smooth, slim abdomen again through surgery.

Whether you are bothered by the appearance of excess, loose skin, or suffer from diastasis recti, a tummy tuck can be an effective way to restore your body and confidence post-pregnancy. During your initial consultation at Edelstein Cosmetic, your concerns and goals will be discussed in detail in order to determine whether abdominoplasty is right for you.

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