Why Is My Belly Bulging? Explaining Diastasis Recti (and How To Fix It)
For all the joy it brings, pregnancy takes its toll on the body. If your belly is still bulging several months after delivery, diastasis recti could be the culprit. Double board-certified plastic surgeons Dr. Wright Jones and Dr. Sabine Lovell of Atlanta’s Muse Plastic Surgery discuss how to fix diastasis recti.
Two large, parallel rectus muscles meet in the mid-abdomen. These are the so-called “six-pack” muscles. In response to the baby growing within, these abdominal muscles stretch during pregnancy. The stretching may cause the two muscles to separate to a considerable distance. That separation is referred to as diastasis recti.
In most cases, abdominal muscles flatten and return to normal within two months post-partum. When a woman suffers from diastasis recti, no such flattening occurs. The belly sticks out above or below the navel. It continues to make her appear pregnant. Weight loss and exercise do not eradicate the bulge.
Diastasis Recti Risk Factors
Delivering a large baby or carrying multiple children increases the odds of experiencing diastasis recti post-pregnancy. Women over age 35 or those with petite frames are the most vulnerable to developing the condition.
Besides the bulge, diastasis recti can cause other issues. These include:
- Lower back pain
- Urine leakage
- Digestive problems
Rarely, diastasis recti can lead to hernias.
For some women, physical therapy and a targeted exercise program may resolve diastasis recti. If that does not work, or if the bulging is severe, surgery is an alternative. Abdominoplasty, better known as tummy tuck, can fix diastasis recti.
During this procedure, the surgeon tightens the abdominal muscles. The separated muscles are pulled back together and sutured internally. Diastasis recti also results in excess skin. This additional skin and fat are removed during the surgery. The end result is a smooth, flatter, rejuvenated abdomen.
Tummy tuck recovery involves taking two to three weeks off work. Wait at least six weeks post-surgery before resuming strenuous activities.
Diastasis Recti Considerations
Women should not consider undergoing the tummy tuck procedure until they have completed their families. While tummy tuck does not affect fertility, another pregnancy will again stretch the abdomen and could result in dealing with diastasis recti again.
For More Information, Contact Muse Plastic Surgery
If you would like more information about diastasis recti and solutions, schedule a personal consultation with Dr. Jones or Dr. Lovell of Muse Plastic Surgery. They will answer all of your questions concerning the condition and your best treatment options.