Is there anything more frustrating than following through on a commitment to exercise and follow a healthy diet after having a baby, only to look in the mirror a year later and still look like you’re pregnant? That’s often the case for women who are considering tummy tuck surgery at my Toronto practice.
A “belly pooch” caused by a condition called diastasis recti is difficult to remedy, even with exercises specifically designed to reduce its appearance. For some people, a tummy tuck represents the only viable solution.
What Is Diastasis Recti?
Abdominal muscles and connective tissues stretched during pregnancy include the twin long, flat muscles that run vertically along each side of the abdomen. These “6-pack muscles” are the rectus abdominis, and in many cases, no intervention is necessary when these muscles are separated by pregnancy. The tissue heals and, once hormone levels return to pre-pregnancy levels, the muscles come back together.
For some women, however, the muscle separation persists, and the gap won’t close without treatment. If this doesn’t happen in three to six months, you can end up with a gap that won’t close without treatment. About 40% of women have a diastasis 6 months after giving birth. This is more than a cosmetic issue because severe diastasis recti can cause discomfort and result in chronic back pain, urinary incontinence, pain during sex, and pelvic or hip pain.
How Does a Tummy Tuck Help?
Sometimes women can improve diastasis recti with the help of a physical therapist. But in severe situations, only surgery can effectively correct the condition. During a tummy tuck, the plastic surgeon begins by making a horizontal incision that stretches from hip to hip just above the pubic area. If a patient’s concerns are limited to below the belly button, a mini tummy tuck can be an option. This involves a much shorter incision along the abdomen.
The tummy tuck incision provides the surgeon access to the separated abdominal muscles, which are stitched back together using non-dissolvable sutures. Additionally, the surgeon may use liposuction to remove fatty tissue and then remove excess skin to create a flatter, more contoured midsection.
Combining a Tummy Tuck With Other Procedures
The physical toll pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding take on a woman’s body extends beyond stretched abdominal muscles and excess skin. Many tummy tuck patients choose to combine their tummy tuck with cosmetic breast surgery, such as a breast lift or breast augmentation, as part of an operation called a Mommy Makeover. This combination procedure offers many advantages, including you’ll only need to be placed under a general anesthetic once and plan for only a single recovery. It can also mean cost savings compared with having several separate procedures.
If your belly pooch is making you self-conscious and you want to learn more about diastasis recti repair surgery, contact us using the online form to request a consultation or call us at (416) 207-9090 to schedule an appointment. You can also see the type of results our tummy tuck patients from Brampton, Toronto, Mississauga, and beyond enjoy by viewing our before-and-after photos.