Sometimes referred to as the post-pregnancy battle of the bulge, a protruding abdomen can be frustrating for women who can’t regain their flat stomachs after having children. That’s because abdominal muscles separated during pregnancy create the appearance of a pot belly—a condition called diastasis recti—that typically can only be corrected through tummy tuck surgery.
At my Orlando, FL, practice, I see women who have lost confidence in their bodies (even though they exercise and eat a healthy diet) because they can’t lose the abdominal bulge. They also often have loose tummy skin, sagging breasts, and enlarged nipples to go with the exaggerated tummy pooch. In this blog post, I’ll explain exactly what’s responsible for diastasis recti, the procedure used to tighten the separated muscles, and a few tips that can help minimize the chances of developing this condition.
What Causes Diastasis Recti?
As the uterus grows during pregnancy, abdominal muscles stretch. In some cases, 2 large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the center of the abdomen—called rectus muscles—get separated more than normal. This condition is called diastasis recti. Women who carry multiples or a large baby to term have a greater chance of developing this condition. It’s also more likely to occur for smaller women or for women who are older than 35.
How Do You Repair Diastasis Recti?
Not all cases of diastasis recti require surgery. Physical therapy, specific exercises, support belts, and other approaches can help strengthen the muscles and help you perform normal activities. More severe cases ultimately can only be addressed with surgery.
A tummy tuck procedure—which is designed to remove excess skin—is also used to tighten abdominal muscles separated during pregnancy. One of the advantages of using the tummy tuck technique is that I make the incision just above the pubic area, where it can be easily concealed by bikini bottoms, rather than on the abdomen itself. After making the incision, which stretches horizontally from hip to hip, I carefully lift the skin to expose the separated muscles. I then suture the muscles together using a technique that creates what is essentially an internal corset.
Is the Surgery Covered by Insurance?
Even though some cases of diastasis recti can be severe and even disfiguring, few insurance policies cover the cost of this procedure because it isn’t deemed “medically necessary.” A tummy tuck is considered an elective procedure and also isn’t covered by insurance. We do offer financing through CareCredit®, a credit card designed specifically for health care costs, which can spread out payments.
Additional Benefits of a Tummy Tuck
In addition to repairing abdominal muscles and creating a flatter stomach, a tummy tuck has benefits that come as a surprise to many patients. These benefits include:
- Reduced back pain: Other muscles must compensate to help you keep your posture when your core muscles are weak. This can lead to back pain. Stronger core muscles help keep your pelvis and spine in a neutral position, which is important for a healthy back.
- Reduced urinary incontinence: Childbirth can weaken the bladder, and women who have had children often leak urine when they sneeze, cough, jump, or laugh. A tummy tuck can improve bladder control.
A tummy tuck, whether it includes diastasis repair or not, creates dramatic cosmetic changes. You can see the results of some of my actual patients in the gallery of before-and-after photos. If you’ve been considering a tummy tuck, contact us using the online form to schedule a consultation or call our office at (407) 857-6261 to schedule an appointment.