Pregnancy and childbirth can cause your abdominal muscles to weaken and separate, resulting in a protruding belly or "pooch." Known as diastasis recti, even if you have never been pregnant, certain exercises and activities that stimulate excessive inner-abdominal pressure can also cause your abdominal muscles and connective tissues to stretch out and separate. Fortunately, tummy tuck surgery can correct this problem.
If you have diastasis recti and are curious about tummy tuck surgery, you have come to the right place. In this post, Scottsdale board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Aldo Guerra answers the top questions patients have about diastasis recti and shares his unique approach to abdominoplasty.
1. How common is diastasis recti?
Diastasis recti affects pregnant and postpartum women, people performing poor exercise techniques, and overweight or obese individuals. It is estimated that 1 in 2 women experience diastasis recti. And, according to a study, two-thirds of men with abdominal aortic aneurysms have the condition.
People often mistake diastasis recti for excess weight gain or a beer belly. However, it is a serious concern that may necessitate medical attention due to uncomfortable symptoms that can affect your quality of life.
2. What are the symptoms of diastasis recti?
Aside from affecting your appearance, diastasis recti can cause lower back pain, persistent constipation, pelvic floor imbalance, poor posture, and bloating. These symptoms can progress or worsen in the absence of treatment. A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty can correct diastasis recti in a variety of patients.
3. Is surgery always necessary to repair diastasis recti?
If you have severe diastasis recti that causes abdominal protuberance with or without functional problems, then a tummy tuck is far superior to non-invasive and minimally-invasive techniques to address the issue definitively.
4. What sutures do cosmetics surgeons use in diastasis recti surgery?
The types of suture or stitches used to correct diastasis recti will depend on the severity of your condition, your likelihood of re-developing diastasis recti, and the preference of your doctor.
Most surgeons use heavy, non-absorbable sutures to hold a patient's abdominal muscles and fascia (the tissue connecting the abs) together and encourage scar tissue development after a tummy tuck. Non-absorbable sutures are permanent and help prevent diastasis recti from reoccurring.
5. Do sutures dissolve? Will I see the sutures?
Since non-absorbable sutures are permanent, they do not dissolve. Absorbable sutures, on the other hand, dissolve over time (after 4 months or so). Regardless of which type of suture you and your surgeon choose, both are safe and undetectable, meaning you will not notice any of the stitches once your body heals from diastasis recti surgery.
6. Will I feel the sutures?
Your plastic surgeon will place sutures deep beneath your skin and buried within the fascia, ensuring that you will never feel them.
7. Can plastic surgeons address umbilical hernias when repairing diastasis recti?
As mentioned, patients with diastasis recti have separated or pulled apart abs and the fascia connecting them is weak. Too much abdominal pressure and contents of the stomach poking through the thin fascia can result in an umbilical hernia (a belly button that pops outward). Though this can cause embarrassment in some patients, tummy tuck surgery can restore the belly button's inward-facing appearance.
Umbilical hernias are most common among pregnant and postpartum women, as well as in people who are overweight or obese. In most adults, a protruding navel does not go away on its own and often grows larger over time.
If you have an umbilical hernia, surgery can take about 30 minutes irrespective of other issues that require correcting during a tummy tuck in Scottsdale, Arizona.
8. Can I lose my belly button after undergoing diastasis recti surgery?
No. If you choose a qualified plastic surgeon with impressive credentials, you will not lose your navel.
During a tummy tuck or diastasis recti surgery, your belly button will stay in place. Your surgeon will create an additional incision around your belly button to release it from the surrounding skin, but the navel will remain attached to its "stalk" in the abdominal muscles at all times. The belly button can look like it was repositioned or moved slightly—the attractive result of fine surgical skill.
There are some cases when a surgeon will leave the umbilicus intact at the skin level and uncouple the umbilical stalk to reposition the belly button during tummy tuck surgery. Plastic surgeons refer to this procedure as an umbilical float tummy tuck. Only under rare and specific circumstances, such as when significant excess skin is not present, do surgeons consider performing an umbilical float tummy tuck.
9. What is Dr. Guerra's muscle repair technique for diastasis recti surgery?
Repairing diastasis recti during a tummy tuck tightens your abdominal wall and contours your waistline for a slimmer, more feminine silhouette. Once Dr. Guerra stitches your abdominal muscles and connective fascia together, there is usually some excess skin left over, which he can trim to achieve a smooth, flat stomach.
10. Where can I get a tummy tuck in Scottsdale and Phoenix?
Dr. Guerra is not only one of the best plastic surgeons in Arizona, he is also one of the most skilled and recognized surgeons in the United States. As a specialist in abdominoplasty, he can help you metamorphosize into a confident new you.
If diastasis recti is affecting your physical and mental health, Dr. Guerra invites you to schedule a tummy tuck consultation near you. He has been performing tummy tuck surgery in Scottsdale and Phoenix for almost 20 years and can help you achieve the firm and flat abdomen you've always wanted. Contact his practice online or call 480-970-2580 to discuss your diastasis recti treatment options today.