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What is rectus divarication? Plastic surgeon Dr Sharp explains

Diastasis recti, rectus divarication or abdominal wall separation describes a gap of 3cm or more between the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle.

The distance between the right and left rectus abdominis muscles is created by the stretching of the linea alba, a connective collagen sheath (see right).

Brisbane based specialist plastic surgeon Dr David Sharp routinely performs muscle repair and hernia reduction as part of post pregnancy tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) surgery.

Brisbane mummy makeover tummy tuck

What causes rectus divarication?

In pregnant or postpartum women, the condition is caused by the stretching of the rectus abdominis by the growing uterus. It is more common in women who have had multiple pregnancies, but can occur after just one. Sometimes, the uterus can be seen bulging through the abdominal wall, beneath the skin.

Women are more susceptible to develop diastasis recti when over the age of 35, high birth weight of child, multiple birth pregnancy, and multiple pregnancies. Abdominal muscles separation can appear as a ridge running down the midline of the abdomen; it becomes more obvious with straining and may disappear when the abdominal muscles are relaxed.

How does a tummy tuck repair muscle separation?

In an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck, diastasis recti is corrected by creating a plication or folding of the linea alba and suturing together. This creates a tighter abdominal wall and restores the stomach to a flatter, more aesthetically pleasing appearance while most importantly restoring core strength, and often, pelvic floor integrity.

Sometimes, hernias may also be present alongside abdominal wall weakness. In most cases, Dr Sharp’s abdominoplasty procedures include the repair of any hernias as well.

tummy tuck post pregnancy abdominoplasty pelvic floor

How do I find out if I have muscle separation?

To find out if you have muscle separation after pregnancy, speak to your GP. If this is causing back ache, urinary incontinence, poor core strength or difficulty with certain exercises, ask for a referral to have an ultrasound to measure the degree of divarication – and a referral to see a qualified specialist plastic surgeon to discuss whether or not post pregnancy abdominoplasty surgery might be right for you.


The above information is general in nature and does not constitute medical advice. All surgery carries benefits and risks, and we recommend visiting the specific page related to the procedure you are interested in to learn more.

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