The word “diastasis” has its origin in the Greek word meaning “to separate,” and the medical condition known as diastasis recti (rectus diastasis, ‘split abdomen’) refers to a stretching of the abdominal fascia (lining covering the abdominal muscles), leading to a separation between the left and right side of the rectus abdominis (the muscle extending across the front surface of the abdomen). This condition frequently presents in women as a result of uterine growth during pregnancy, which increases tension on the abdominal wall, causing the abdominal fascia and musculature to stretch, weaken, and eventually separate. Women with multiple births or pregnancies are at an increased risk of developing diastasis recti, because the abdominal fascia and muscles have been stretched multiple times. Also large weight gains can produce significant separation of the muscles, as can twins or triplet births.
During the first stages of pregnancy, the presence of extra skin and soft tissue in front of the abdominal wall is often the earliest sign of diastasis recti. As the pregnancy progresses, diastasis recti can cause the top of the pregnant uterus to bulge outward, and the formation of a ridge running down the center of the abdomen (stretching from the bottom of the breastbone to the belly button). This ridge becomes increasingly visible when the abdominal muscles are straining or contracting during any form of physical exertion.
Although diastasis recti in and of itself it not dangerous, there are a number of potential physical and aesthetic complications associated with this condition:
Because the condition of diastasis recti permanently stretches the tissues between the abdominal muscles, abdominal exercises and/or diet programs are ineffective solutions, and will not restore the pre-pregnancy shape to the abdomen. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) is the most effective means of repairing the abdominal fascia and musculature, and correcting the symptoms associated with diastasis recti.
There are a number of tummy tuck variations that can be employed to correct diastasis recti, and during your initial evaluation, Dr. Moelleken will evaluate the quality of your abdominal skin, the severity of your diastasis (abdominal muscle looseness) and your degree of skin laxity (sagging) in order to determine the abdominoplasty technique that is best suited to your specific needs.