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Can a Tummy Tuck Treat Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti refers to the separation of the left and right abdominal muscles as a result of the connective tissues in the abdomen becoming stretched out by pressure or strain. It is most commonly associated with pregnancy, but anyone—including men and young children—can develop the condition. In addition to pregnancy, strenuous lifting, rapid weight gain, and muscle weakness due to age can all increase the risk of developing diastasis recti.

In many cases, diastasis recti will resolve on its own with time. Most pregnant women notice that their “post-pregnancy pooch” begins to flatten out within a year, especially with proper diet and physical therapist-approved exercise. However, in some cases, the condition may prove more permanent. While many cases of diastasis recti are relatively benign, some people experience back and/or pelvic pain, incontinence, and, in extreme cases, an increased risk of developing hernias—a more severe condition where your abdominal organs poke out from behind the protective abdominal wall.

In addition to the potential physical symptoms, many people also find diastasis recti to be an aesthetically disruptive condition, as it tends to create a bulged or ridged appearance along the center of the abdomen. Fortunately, board-certified plastic surgeon Steven Holzman, MD can help. He has extensive training and experience repairing and restoring the appearance of the abdominal muscles using tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty).

Some patients may wonder why they should go to a plastic surgeon to address their diastasis recti concerns, and the answer is simple: As a plastic surgeon, Dr. Holzman is optimally equipped to offer both structural repair for diastasis recti as well as superior cosmetic outcomes for the entire abdominal region. Diastasis recti causes the abdominal muscles to separate; a tummy tuck is designed to tighten the muscles of the abdomen while also removing excess skin and fat for more comprehensive aesthetic rejuvenation. The result is typically a smoother, flatter, and more toned abdomen. In comparison, many general surgeons do not address excess fat or skin when repairing diastasis recti. This extra step can be particularly beneficial for those who have been pregnant or had major weight fluctuations, as excess skin often accumulates and obscures the abdominal contours, creating a saggy appearance. A tummy tuck is also often included as part of a mommy makeover, which combines a range of cosmetic procedures in order to help women boost their confidence and restore their pre-pregnancy bodies.

While it may be possible for some people to mitigate the physical side-effects of diastasis recti through diet and exercise alone, there is inconclusive evidence to support the claim that it can be fully healed without surgery. It is important to consult with both your doctor and a licensed physiotherapist prior to beginning any form of exercise regime, as certain abdominal exercises can actually worsen the condition. Furthermore, while surgery is oftentimes the optimal method of addressing both the aesthetic and functional concerns associated with diastasis recti, it may not be right for every patient. The best candidates are typically those who are done having children, are at or near their desired weight, and who are in otherwise good health. During a consultation, Dr. Holzman will be more than happy to further discuss the benefits, risks, costs, and other factors associated with abdominoplasty.

If you have any further questions about diastasis recti or abdominoplasty, please contact Holzman Plastic Surgery today! A member of our friendly and knowledgeable staff will be happy to answer any questions you may have or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Holzman.