What is Diastasis Recti?
The word “diastasis” has its origin in the Greek word meaning “to separate,” and the medical condition is 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.
Symptoms and Potential Complications
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:
- Abdominal distension (protrusion, bulging)
- Abdominal skin laxity (looseness, hanging skin)
- Loss of coordinated abdominal muscle contraction
- Development of hernias
- Increased intra-abdominal pressure
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Lack of support for internal organs
- Improper balance
- Loss of core strength
- Back pain
Diastasis Recti Beverly Hills & Santa Barbara
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, plastic surgery Beverly Hills, 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.
Tummy Tuck Options
Mini Tummy Tuck:
This option is usually very limited in its effectiveness. The traditional mini tummy tuck only tightens up to the umbilicus (belly button). As most ladies who have had children can tell you, the bulge almost always extends well above the umbilicus. So a mini tummy tuck, which involves a small C-section type incision, doesn’t tighten the fascia above the umbilicus at all.
Hybrid Abdominoplasty® (Hybrid Tummy Tuck®):
Dr. Moelleken created this technique to serve as a short incision procedure (rather than the hip-to-hip incision of a traditional tummy tuck) that would tighten the diastasis completely, from the pubic area to the breast bone, through a short incision. Some skin is then removed, so the procedure tightens the entire abdominal fascia and corrects the rectus diastasis. For patients who have had a C-section delivery, this technique avoids the creation of any new abdominal scarring by utilizing the existing C-section scar for the incision. Dr. Moelleken will make a small incision near the pubic area for patients who have only had vaginal deliveries.
Extended Hybrid Tummy Tuck®:
An extended hybrid tummy tuck is typically performed on fit patients with a greater degree of skin laxity than that found in strict Hybrid tummy tuck® patients. For this technique, Dr. Moelleken will use the same short incision as for the hybrid tummy tuck but will extend the fascia and muscle tightening around to the back and will create a new belly button.
Modified Hybrid Tummy Tuck®:
The incision and technique for this procedure is similar to that of the hybrid tummy tuck but involves a vertical incision below the belly button. This allows a significant tightening of the skin above the umbilicus in addition to the lower abdomen. During this procedure, the tightening of the abdominal musculature and fascia is again from the pubic area to the breast bone. Liposculpture can also be performed at the same time.
Standard (Full) Tummy Tuck:
For a full tummy tuck, Dr. Moelleken will make an incision from hip to hip, in order to tighten and repair the abdominal fascia and musculature running from the lower chest area to the pubis. He will excise any surplus abdominal tissue and skin, and will then use a circular incision around the navel to reposition the belly button in a very aesthetic fashion after considerable skin and fat are removed from the lower abdomen. Liposuction may also be performed in conjunction with the tummy tuck in order to maximize the aesthetic results.
Extended Full Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) With Flank Extension:
The incision of a full tummy tuck is extended past the hip to hip location in order to remove hanging skin located at the side of the abdomen. Patients have usually lost a good deal of weight and there is hanging skin in the front and partially to the side of the abdomen. Liposculpture can also be performed at the same time.
An incision is made from the center of the back, usually with the patient starting in a prone position (on their stomach), and then the patient is repositioned to the supine position. This procedure is common for patients who have lost a large amount of weight.