The story is always very similar. After having children, women notice that no matter the fitness regime or diet they can not loose their stomach pooch. They try the stomach binders promising to fix it or the latest 8 week exercise program with no significant improvement. This is because once the diastasis recti muscles are pushed or torn apart nothing besides surgery will repair this. One can strengthen the oblique ab muscles and your overall core but diastasis recti repair with a tummy tuck is commonly recommended.
Many people are confused on where the diastasis muscles are located.
First, let us start with what are the diastasis recti muscles. These are the major set of core abdominal muscles lining the middle of your stomach. Normally this muscular layer is taunt, firm, and keeps your organs from pushing forward. There are three scenarios which cause these muscles to loosen or tear.
Women know their stomach is often never the same after pregnancy but often they do not realize why. For some reason, diastasis recti is very seldom discussed by health care providers.
During pregnancy the uterus is stretching outwards to accomodate the growing baby. Excessive pressure combined with pregnancy leads to relaxing of the rectus abdominis muscles or the two parallel bands of your abs.
Weight fluctuations in weight can also lead to diastasis recti. . The intra-abdominal fat stretches the wall, which breaks the elastic connective fibers holding together the abdominal muscles.
As we age, the connective tissues in your body, elastic fibers and collagen decrease, which causes these abdominal muscles to sag and loose strength. This can be lessened by having a consistent exercise regime, diet, and nutrition.
The first step is to diagnose recti. Most women start to realize their stomach pooch may be there to stay about one year after pregnancy when they are close to their pre-pregnancy weight and they still look a little pregnant. Often other friends will recommend a plank test where they plank to see if when their abdominal muscles are tightened does their stomach flatten or still pooch? For a actual measurement, a board certified plastic surgeon will have you lie on a table and lift your legs. They can then measure the approximate separation. It can vary between almost no separation to up to 15 centimeters! On average women after having children will have a 3 -5 cm separation. Please understand this measurement can vary between providers.
There are so many exercise plans, core strengthening, and physical therapy programs that promise the flat stomach after paying a nominal fee and participating in their program for 8 weeks. This is why it is important to measure your diastasis recti. Based on scientific studies, these may lead to a slight improvement in the separation and can help strengthen the oblique and diastasis muscles. Be careful, however, as some exercises may actually worsen the separation. The studies do conclude, however, the slight improvement can not be seen by a casual observer.
For large diastasis recti separation (typically >3 cm), medical professionals recommend a repairing the diastasis recti surgically. There are two methods. In one method you may repair it through an endoscopic-assisted modified tummy tuck. Through a bikini line incision sutures are place to pull the rectus abdominis muscles together. Only limited skin incision is possible, but it does not involve relocating the belly button. The second and by far the most popular is the traditional tummy tuck. A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a cosmetic surgery that will remove excess skin and stretch marks, typically from the lower part of the abdomen and leave a scar that can be hidden under most underwear and bikini bottoms. While loose skin is being removed, a stretched or damaged looking belly button (umbilicus) can often be rejuvenated. Often you will see women post about being on the "flat side." With this tummy tuck procedure, plastic surgeons can transform a stomach pooching due to a much flatter stomach.
The best time to consider diastasis recti repair is after you are done having children and at a stable weight. We recommend being at least one year post pregnancy to give your body time to adjust after pregnancy.