Diastasis Recti (DR): How to Fix It
More than 50 percent of women experience abdominal separation after pregnancy. A woman’s body undergoes significant changes during pregnancy to accommodate the growing baby. As the pregnancy progresses, your abdominal muscles separate as the tissue between them stretches to create room for the baby.
Consequently, many women notice a gap in the middle of their bellies after pregnancy. For some, the indentation is more expansive, making the belly bulge or stick out months or even years after pregnancy. It is diastasis recti when the split between the set of muscles is significant.
What Is Diastasis Recti?
The left and right abdominal muscles run vertically along your abdomen. A band of tissue known as linea alba divides the abdominal muscles. During pregnancy, the linea alba widens and spreads the abdominal muscles further apart. That causes the contents of the abdominal cavity to bulge outward.
When pregnancy stretches your abdominal muscle, causing them to separate, you have diastasis recti. It is a common condition in pregnant and postpartum women and obese individuals.
Common symptoms include abdominal discomfort, lower back pain, and a loss of bladder control. DR also causes a bulging or doming around the belly button. In 30 to 60 percent of women, these symptoms continue after birth. Some people experience additional symptoms, such as:
- Accidental bowel leakage
- Pain and discomfort in the abdomen
- Poor self-image
- Pelvic organ prolapses
- Pelvic instability
- Lower quality of life
Causes and Risk Factors
Some people have this condition from birth. However, DR usually occurs during pregnancy. According to studies, it can also affect men and postmenopausal women. Risk factors include pregnancy hormones, having multiple babies, weight gain, aging, and heavy lifting.
Doctors diagnose this condition by taking a physical exam and comprehensive medical history. MRI scans, CT scans, and ultrasounds can help determine the condition’s severity. An abdominal muscle separation larger than two centimeters may indicate an abnormality. In such a case, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
How to Fix Diastasis Recti
Diastasis recti can heal on its own without treatment. In about 60 percent of people, it persists after the postpartum period. You might consider surgery or conservative treatment if your mommy-tummy is not improving with a healthy diet and exercise.
Surgery – No Drain Tummy Tuck
A no-drain tummy tuck combines a traditional tummy tuck with liposuction. The technique uses a layered suturing approach to eliminate the need for post-op drains. It helps sculpt and tone the abdominal contours. It also minimizes the surgical intervention required to achieve the best results.
If you choose surgery, you must understand that it is not a minor procedure. Surgery is the best option if your condition is severe and does not improve with exercise. However, experts recommend going under the knife only if conservative treatments fail to provide the desired results.
Before you undergo surgery, you should determine whether your condition is genuinely problematic. Your separation should be at least two finger widths or two centimeters wide for you to be a good candidate. Also, you should consider the risks, post-surgical pain, and the recovery process before surgery.
Most doctors recommend starting with non-invasive treatments to fix diastasis recti. These include physical therapy exercises, lifestyle changes, and weight loss. According to a study conducted in 2021, a postpartum workout program can help decrease the severity of DR.
If the initial conservative treatments are ineffective after two to six months, your doctor may recommend surgery. Surgery to fix this condition is substantial. However, a no-drain tummy tuck can be very effective.
For more on diastasis recti, call Natural Results Plastic Surgery at our Scottsdale, Arizona office. Call (480) 418-5300 to schedule an appointment.