Diastasis recti (also known as rectus divarication or abdominal separation) a gap (usually greater than 2.5cm) 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).
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.
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.
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 a qualified plastic surgeon to discuss whether or not post pregnancy abdominoplasty surgery might be right for you.