It is estimated that over 60% of women continue to suffer from diastasis recti weeks, months, and even years after giving birth. You may be feeling something in your abdomen doesn’t feel right, or you continue experiencing overall core weakness despite various targeted programs. Perhaps, it’s been months of consistently working on diet and exercise, yet you are still seeing a protruding belly resembling pregnancy. Chances are, you have abdominal separation interchangeably called Diastasis Recti. Unfortunately, exercise and diet alone will not be able to correct this condition. Surgical intervention may be your best option to correct the root of the problem and successfully gain full function back.
If you are in the process of researching diastasis recti surgery, we encourage you to set up an in person or virtual consultation with diastasis recti expert, and Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Rady Rahban. During your consultation, you will be carefully examined, and assessed regarding your individual case. You will be provided with a thorough personalized plan encompassing your options to correct and treat this condition, and alleviate the various symptoms associated with diastasis recti. It is vital to stay educated and have a clear understanding of what is happening in your body as you navigate this process.
Causes of Diastasis Recti
As previously mentioned, nearly all pregnancies resort to some degree of diastasis recti or muscle separation, ranging from mild to severe. This is necessary in order to accommodate your growing baby. More specifically, a hormone called relaxin is secreted. The role of relaxin is to relax the muscles, joints, and ligaments in order to safely dilate, stretch, and loosen to accommodate a growing fetus.
During pregnancy, your body undergoes many changes both physically and hormonally. On a hormonal level, your body secretes a set of hormones called Prostaglandins. These hormones are secreted and circulated throughout your body in order to safely dilate, stretch, and loosen to accommodate a growing fetus. These hormones continue to be secreted throughout the lactation process. In addition to the hormones floating throughout your body, you are also undergoing internal pressure from your growing baby. The combination of the physiological changes and internal abdominal pressure, results in the connective tissue or fascia that lies in between the right and left abdominal muscles, to stretch, and thin out. As your baby grows larger, the internal pressure continues to increase and can lead to the overstretching of the fascial band.
After giving birth, the abdominal separation becomes a vulnerable and weakened area in your abdominal wall. The visible abdominal bulge is the result of your internal contents pushing through this damaged connective tissue. At this point, surgery becomes your only option to address the condition from the root of where it stems from.
Symptoms Associated with Diastasis Recti
The abdominal bulge is just one of the symptoms associated with diastasis recti. In addition you may be experiencing “tenting” or “doming”. This is most commonly seen while executing simple tasks such as coughing, sitting up, or even laughing. What you are experiencing is two fold. The lack of support in the weakened abdominal wall is allowing the internal contents to push through the thinned and stretched connective tissue. So when you cough for example - the internal pressure from the cough pushes its way through the midline resembling the shape of a football.
Another very common symptom of diastasis recti is lower back pain. Think of your abdominal wall and back as a connected unit that works simultaneously to properly function as your core. When part of your core in malfunctioning, it becomes problematic. When this happens, the back begins to overcompensate the lack of support and the back muscles go into overdrive. The overworked back muscles then become fatigued which contributes to lower back pain. Living with this pain is debilitating and affects your overall quality of life. Not to mention the chicken and egg concept of not easily being able to exercise in order to strengthen the core. In the long run, continuously straining your back can lead to more serious chronic low back pain.
Surgically repairing the abdominal wall, by suturing the fascia back into the midline, will restore the proper anatomical structure of the abdomen. This will create the necessary support your back is desperately seeking. Once the abdominal wall is corrected, the overall core will be properly supported and low back pain will be alleviated.
Hernias are a potentially serious condition that often goes hand in hand with diastasis recti but are slightly different by definition. A hernia is an actual hole in the connective tissue in which fatty tissue and intestines can squeeze through. The element that makes this condition unsafe is that the intestines can get trapped in the hole causing obstruction of the bowels. This can be painful and can lead to immediate surgical intervention.
The most common type of hernia among postpartum women is an umbilical hernia. This is where the hole is near the umbilical region and is often responsible for the appearance of an “outie”.
The common denominator between the two conditions is that they are both caused by the increase in internal abdominal pressure and weakened abdominal wall. When the tissue is stretched and weakened thru the pregnancy process, it creates the perfect storm for the development of an umbilical hernia. It is very common for many women, especially those with multiple pregnancies, to have both diastasis recti and an umbilical hernia simultaneously.
Importance of Correcting a Hernia and Diastasis Recti Together
It is optimal to correct both the hernia and diastasis at the same time. Research suggests that if you corrected just the hernia without correcting the diastasis, you are essentially setting yourself up for a greater chance of reoccurrence. If the hernia is repaired independently of the diastasis, the repair has a higher chance of failing due to the buttonholes that are created while suturing the hernia. These buttonholes can actually create a new hernia since the surrounding tissue is so thin and damaged. If you think of a stretched out rubber band and try to poke through it, you will notice that because it’s so thin, the hole may get larger and/or it can open another hole nearby.
The successful outcome when repaired simultaneously is because when you reinforce the connective tissue into the midline, it also serves as additional reinforcement for the hernia. The extra support results in a stronger hold for both conditions resulting in greater long-term success and sustainability.
Before & Afters
Dr. Rahbans MESHLESS Technique
Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Rahban has mastered the technique of successfully correcting both conditions simultaneously WITHOUT the use of mesh. Dr. Rahban strongly advocates against the use of mesh due to the potential risks involved to your health and surgical outcome. Instead, Dr. Rahban utilizes a MESHLESS technique, requiring great accuracy and intricate surgical skills. He is an expert in the field and has mastered his craft by using a natural tissue approach to reinforce and correct the weakened tissue in even the most severe hernia and diastasis recti cases. Dr. Rahban believes that the body tolerates its own tissue best and by doing so, minimizes the potential complications that mesh puts you at risk for. Dr. Rahban does not believe in sacrificing his patients’ safety and results by taking the easier, faster, or cheaper route. His strong and ethical standards are the driving forces to successfully executing diastasis recti and hernia repair.
Complications Associated with Surgical Mesh for Hernia and Diastasis Recti Repair
Surgical mesh is defined as a screen like material that is made up of synthetic polymers or biopolymers. Surgical mesh is commonly used to reinforce tissue or bone. Although this may seem like a good option, and many surgeons fall back on this technique, the long-term implications are far from successful and carry a host of complications alongside the use of it. In fact, there have been a number of recalls for various types of mesh because of the risks and side effects associated with it.
Complications from mesh in hernia and diastasis recti surgery can lead to debilitating and chronic pain. This pain can be caused by a number of things such as: the nerves getting entangled in the mesh lattice; mesh shrinkage creating a hard mass; erosion of mesh fibers through your tissue, and chronic inflammation of tissues by foreign body reaction. Ultimately, these complications can lead to severe infections, pain, and hernia recurrence leading to an additional surgery to then remove the mesh. Furthermore, the removal process poses its own set of risks with uncertain results and consequences. Therefore, it is extremely important to understand the significant value of Dr. Rahbans MESHLESS approach to abdominoplasty in order to correct diastasis recti and an accompanying hernia.
The Importance of Choosing a Qualified Diastasis Recti Surgeon
As with any surgery, there are risks associated with diastasis recti surgery or abdominoplasty. Doing your research in finding the most qualified surgeon to perform your surgery can minimize many of those risks. Additionally, a severe diastasis repair warrants an increased level of reconstruction that is more extensive than that of a standard abdominoplasty. For this reason it is crucial to seek out a Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive surgeon, such as Dr. Rady Rahban, to perform and execute your surgery. His meticulous, and perfectionist demeanor combined with his advanced technical skills and knowledge, will provide you with optimal results both functionally and aesthetically. Dr. Rahban emphasizes the importance of safety to minimize the risks associated with diastasis recti surgery.
Diastasis Recti FAQs
Is a tummy tuck and diastasis recti surgery the same thing?
Abdominoplasty is used interchangeably in both diastasis recti surgery and tummy tucks, as there is a large degree of overlap. However, diastasis recti surgery is specific to correcting the separation that exists between the left and right sides of the muscles. In addition, diastasis recti surgery with or without hernia repair, often times requires additional reconstruction of the abdominal wall to restore its function. The belly button is recreated with both types of surgeries resulting in a more aesthetically pleasing and youthful abdomen.
A tummy tuck does include the repair of diastasis recti, and in addition to that will remove excess skin in the abdominal region as well as excess fat.
Can diastasis recti repair be added to a mommy makeover?
Absolutely. A mommy makeover is a highly customizable set of procedures designed to return your body to a renewed, refreshed, and youthful self. As part of the mommy makeover, many women choose to combine procedures. In the majority of cases, the mommy makeover includes a tummy tuck, with the option of correcting a hernia and/or diastasis recti, breast lift with or without breast augmentation, as well as the option of fat removal via liposuction. When you come in for your consultation in Dr. Rahbans Los Angeles office, he will thoroughly go over all the options best suitable for you.
How much time should I plan to take off from work?
To obtain optimal results, it is crucial to nurture the recovery period to allow the allotted time for your body to heal. It is important to take a short time off from work and rest. If your job is not physically demanding, you most likely will be able to return to work within 2 weeks. However, if your job involves more strenuous activity such as heavy lifting, we highly recommend that you take additional time off from work, or temporarily find a less strenuous alternative during the recovery period. In the long run, this will be a small blimp of time for long-term sustainability and happiness.
How is the pain managed after undergoing diastasis recti repair?
In addition to your safety and outstanding results, Dr. Rahban prioritizes your comfort both during and after surgery. When you undergo an abdominoplasty or diastasis recti repair with Dr. Rahban in Los Angeles, a board-certified anesthesiologist will carefully monitor you throughout the surgery. When your surgery is completed, you will be gently awakened and closely monitored as you transition into recovery mode. Most patients find that the most uncomfortable part of recovery is the first week. The pain is easily managed with medication and adherence to the specific post-op instructions provided. You will be asked to walk slowly but its important to be mindful not to overdo it as it can increase swelling which can lead to increased pain. After the first week, most patients find that their comfort level increases steadily and the pain has generally subsided.
Who is a candidate for diastasis recti surgery?
The vast majority of people undergoing diastasis recti surgery are women who have had children as a result of the strain pregnancy has on your body. The ideal candidate for this surgery is a non-smoker who is in overall good health. It’s important to have an understanding of the surgery itself, the recovery process, and realistic expectations of your results. Although it is safe to expand your family after this procedure, it’s also crucial to understand that your results may be affected. It is best to wait until after you have completed your family and have returned to your ideal weight as close as possible.
How should I prepare for diastasis recti surgery?
First and foremost, when undergoing diastasis recti surgery, it’s important to do your research and pick the right surgeon. Nothing can affect your outcome more than the person performing the operation and managing the fine details of the entire process. Once you have chosen a surgeon, there are several ways you can prepare.
Since insurance does not cover diastasis recti repair, it’s important to understand your financial obligations, as you will be responsible for the cost. Allowing yourself enough time to plan accordingly will prevent undue financial burden for you and your family.
Another important element in preparing for surgery is to arrange for assistance with everyday tasks such as: lifting, pulling, walking, showering, and cooking. If you have small children, you will want to ensure that you have adequate help during your healing phase especially with heavy lifting.
Many find comfort in preparing their home for recovery. Examples would be - preparing freezer friendly healthy meals ahead of time; a comfortable area with extra pillows where you can rest; and a side table near your bed where you have easy access to your medications.
In the months and weeks before surgery, it is ideal to be in the best health possible before your surgery. Staying active and eating a healthy balanced diet will set you up for a healthier, and speedier recovery.
Are there risks associated with diastasis recti surgery?
All surgeries carry risk. However, you can mitigate a lot of the risk by choosing a highly skilled, experienced, and thorough surgeon. Risks of surgery include bleeding, infection, deep vein thrombosis, and necrosis. There is substantially more risk for diastasis surgery performed with mesh, which is why Dr. Rahban uses a MESHLESS approach. His advanced technique, and postoperative care is unparalleled, creating a safe environment that minimizes complications.
How much does diastasis recti surgery cost?
The average cost of surgery for diastasis recti in Los Angeles, performed by Dr. Rahban, is $xxxxxx. It’s crucial to do your research in order to find the best surgeon to execute your procedure. You get what you pay for and often times, when seeking a low cost surgery, you are also risking the surgeon cutting corners in important areas. Some of those areas include: anesthesia providers, quality of the operating facilities, support staff, and follow up care. By cutting these corners it can set you up for the need to have revisional surgeries, which is more out of pocket cost. In the long run, you would not be saving anything; on the contrary, it could end up being even more costly. Your results, health, and safety are simply too important to settle for less.
What you can expect in your Initial Consultation:
If you are considering this procedure, please come in for a consultation with Dr. Rahban. You can expect your initial exam and consultation to take an hour or more. In your consultation, Dr. Rahban will:
- Listen to what you'd like to achieve with your surgery
- Perform a thorough examination
- Tell you exactly what he recommends and why
- Make sure that any questions you have about insurance and financing are completely answered
As part of the process, Dr. Rahban will give you the opportunity to thoroughly examine photographs of his patients, looking at his earlier work, so that you can see for yourself what to expect if he performs your surgery. He will tell you the results that you can expect from your surgery. It is important that you and your doctor agree on the aesthetics and mechanics of your surgery in order to obtain the results that you want. Call us today to schedule your consultation with one of the top plastic surgeons in Beverly Hills, Dr. Rady Rahban.
Come in for a Consultation with Dr. Rahban
When Dr. Rahban does a consultation with a prospective patient, he wants it to be two things above all others: thorough and honest. He will find out from you just what you want from cosmetic surgery. And he will tell you honestly if you can get the result you want, and how he can best help you do so.