If you’ve had a baby within the last 12 months or later, you may still have a round belly and people may be asking you when you’re due, it may not simply be baby weight causing the problem. You may have diastasis recti, and diet and exercise often don’t solve this condition. Often, the only way to restore your flat, toned abdomen is through a tummy tuck. Our board-certified plastic surgeon in Raleigh is taking a closer look at diastasis recti so you can see if this affects you and what your next step should be to get the body you want.
What Is Diastasis Recti?
“Diastasis” means separation, and “recti” refers to the rectus abdominis, or your abdominal muscles. Basically, this condition means that the rectus abdominis muscles have separated which causes your belly to “pooch” out and look rounded.
This condition is most commonly caused by pregnancy – in fact, around two-thirds of pregnant women have this condition during pregnancy. Pregnancy hormones signal the connective tissue called the linea alba to thin in order to make space for the growing uterus. After giving birth, hormones return to normal, and the linea alba may go back to normal, but if the tissue lost its elasticity, it may not be able to retract, thus causing the continued separation, and thus, a round, protruding belly. This can also be caused to a less degree by obesity and after weight loss, the separation persist.
Risk Factors of Diastasis Recti
While diastasis recti can happen to any woman, it’s most likely to occur with the following factors:
- Pregnancy in women over 35
- Pregnancy with twins or triplets
- Multiple pregnancies (especially when close together)
- Poor muscle tone or posture
- A history of pelvic instability
- A significant weight loss
In addition to pregnancy, rapid weight gain and weight loss, and injury when lifting or exercising can cause this issue.
Complications of Diastasis Recti
In addition to feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable about how your midsection looks, there are physical concerns related to having separated abdominal muscles, including:
- Lower back pain
- Poor core muscle support
- Risk of hernia
- Abdominal discomfort when coughing or sneezing
Self-Diagnosis of Abdominal Separation
If you have a rounded stomach and are concerned you may have diastasis recti, you can perform a self-test at home very easily.
- First, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.
- Put one hand on your midsection with your fingers just above your navel, and raise your head and shoulders just off the floor (like a mini-crunch) until you feel your abdominal muscles contract.
- Use your fingers to press gently along the linea alba which runs vertically from the sternum to pubic bone. You’ll be able to feel the sides of your abdominal muscles and determine if they are separated. A width of two finger-widths apart (or more) means you have diastasis recti.
Treatment for Diastasis Recti
Many women think that exercise, specifically abdominal workouts like crunches, will aid in abdominal separation and restore a flatter tummy. However, crunches and similar core exercises can actually make it worse. There are some exercises and physical therapy actions that can minimize the symptoms and reduce the protusion of your belly.
Some women find that specific exercises and therapies designed for post-partum diastasis recti are beneficial, but other women don’t experience success with them. In this case, the best option is a tummy tuck, in which the abdominal muscles are tightened and repaired and excess skin is removed, leaving a firm, flat midsection.
Schedule a Tummy Tuck Consultation with Our Plastic Surgeon in Raleigh
If you are tired of looking five months pregnant even though your youngest child is in preschool, it’s time to reclaim your body and your confidence! Schedule a consultation with Dr. Ortiz, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Raleigh who has helped countless moms get their body back after baby either with a tummy tuck or even a Mommy Makeover that combines several procedures to help you look your absolute best.
To make an appointment, reach out today at 919-891-8081 or fill out our easy-to-use online contact form below to schedule a consultation!