Symptoms Of Muscle Separation After Tummy Tuck
Abdominal muscle separation signs and symptoms include incontinence, constipation, poor posture or postural issues, bloating, digestive issues, lower back pain, pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort, and pelvic floor dysfunction. They can result in an abdominal hernia in severe cases.
What is Abdominal Separation?
Abdominal separation, or diastasis recti, is caused when the outer layer of the abdominal muscles separates through the center of the abdominal wall. It usually occurs during pregnancy but can also occur in men and athletes. This condition can also be a sign of other issues, like a hernia. Most women experiencing torn stomach muscles in pregnancy will get better in the first eight weeks after having the baby, especially with the help of ab separation exercises. But unfortunately, many women don’t get diagnosed with this condition until the damage is far too advanced to be treated.
Separated abdominal muscles are a common complication of childbirth. It causes the core to destabilize, causing low back pain, poor posture, and muscle injuries. A woman with this condition may experience a wide, asymmetrical abdomen and back pain. The condition can also affect the lower back and cause chronic lower back pain. This condition is unfamiliar to many moms, with most assuming it’s their fault they can’t return to their pre-baby belly. Diastasis recti can make it near impossible to regain your “normal” belly shape and size without the help of abdominal separation surgery. There are several reasons why torn stomach muscles may occur. Understanding why this happens and how it can be corrected is important.
Abdominal Separation: Causes and Symptoms
Diastasis recti is a very common condition during and following pregnancy. 60–70 percent of women who’ve been pregnant experience torn stomach muscles after birth to some degree. While pregnant, your connective tissue, the linea alba, thins out due to changing hormone levels while your uterus expands to accommodate your growing baby.
As your baby grows during pregnancy, the uterus expands and pushes against the abdominal wall. While this occurs, your pregnancy hormones allow the connective tissues to soften and relax. This widening occurs in the connective tissue between your ab muscles, the linea alba, and causes a gap or separation. This is most common in the third trimester of your pregnancy, but it can also occur after childbirth when no baby supports the weakened abdominal muscles.
Torn Stomach Muscle Symptoms
- Back pain, mainly in the lower back;
- pelvic pain
- Muscle weakness
- Bloating and digestive issues
- Urinary leaking
After pregnancy, a key giveaway that you have torn stomach muscles is that your belly protrudes and still appears pregnant, despite your increasing efforts with diet and exercise. Surgery may be a good option if you struggle to remove your bulging belly after pregnancy. Fleur de Lis abdominoplasty is one of the best surgical options available. It can be life-changing for those concerned about their postpartum body, as it helps to firm and tighten the belly like it once did. Learn more about the benefits of tummy tuck surgery.
Who Is More Likely to Get Diastasis Recti?
Abdominal separation in pregnancy is common. However, some are more susceptible to the condition. Typically, women with more than one baby and those with a direct relative experiencing diastasis recti are more likely to have it themselves. Women who have the highest chance of this include those who have:
- Multiple pregnancies
- Previous pregnancy, which caused muscle separation
- Pregnancy soon after a previous pregnancy
- Poor abdominal muscle tone indicates overweight or obesity.
- Petite frame
- Heavy-birth-weight babies or multiple babies have
- Poor posture
What Does Diastasis Recti Look Like?
You can check whether you have a separation of abdominal muscles or ask your GP or midwife for a medical assessment. Before beginning self-assessment, there are some recommendations to ensure your body has fully recovered from pregnancy.
It’s important to allow an adequate period for your body to adjust. This can take between several months and two years. It’s also important to make an effort with diet and exercise to determine whether or not your body will change naturally.
Muscle separation during pregnancy is measured by the number of fingers between the inner sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. Two or more finger widths are considered diastasis recti. There are three key signs to identify if your abs were damaged, torn, or separated throughout your pregnancy. These include:
- A visible gap (more than two finger widths) is in the middle of your abdomen.
- This gap does not get smaller as you contract your ab muscles.
- A visible mound sticks out along the length of your midline.
If you’ve spent more than six months eating healthy and exercising but are experiencing the above symptoms, you may consider trying the below self-assessment technique.
What Is The Cause Of Rectus diastasis?
The main causes of rectus dilation are pregnancy and childbirth. A woman’s body undergoes hormonal and physical changes during pregnancy. The uterus grows and becomes massive to accommodate the developing fetus, pushing your organs away and stretching your abdomen in all directions. To help the muscles relax and stretch more, your placenta and ovaries also produce a hormone called “relaxin,” in addition to progesterone.
Things don’t usually go back to how they were before pregnancy. In many women, the linea alba becomes irreversibly overstretched, and a soft gap between the ab muscles in the middle of the abdomen will develop. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) with muscle repair restores the integrity of the rectus abdominis, tightens your belly, and removes all the excess skin.
What Problems Does Diastasis Recti Cause?
The problems and symptoms of diastasis recti are not purely cosmetic. Rectus divarication can cause a variety of aesthetic and functional problems, such as:
Bulging: The most common symptom of rectus diastasis is a bulging belly. Women with separated tummy muscles usually complain of an obvious protrusion above, below, or around their belly button. In some women, the soft gap between the muscles becomes so wide that bulging can reach the size of a football.
Hernia: Your abdominal cavity is usually well protected and contained by your tough abdominal wall, which includes the rectus abdominis and the linea alba. Women who have rectus dilatation have a very weak and stretched linea alba. In some of these women, the linea alba may rupture. When this happens, intestines and abdominal fat can slide through the defect and push up from under your skin. This is what doctors call a hernia.
A very common site of hernia is through the umbilicus (in many women, the belly button becomes “an outie” after giving birth, and this is usually a hernia). Rectus diastasis and hernia repair can be done simultaneously in such cases.
Hernias can cause many problems. If a bowel loop gets stuck in the defect, you can develop intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency requiring immediate surgery. This is why it is important to consult a surgeon if you suspect a separation or a hernia.
Lower back pain: One of the symptoms of diastasis recti is lower back pain. The rectus abdominis muscle is a crucial part of your core muscles; the muscles are largely responsible for balance and posture. Rectus dilatation weakens the rectus abdominis muscle and puts more stress on your back muscles, which contract disproportionately to compensate for the imbalance. This abnormal straining of the back muscles can cause chronic lower back pain. Fortunately, a tummy tuck with muscle repair can help improve back pain post-pregnancy.
Incontinence: Urinary incontinence is not uncommon after pregnancy and childbirth. Weak abdominal muscles and a weak pelvic floor usually cause incontinence in women after pregnancy. Many women use pads to avoid leaking urine when laughing, sneezing, or exercising. Abdominoplasty may help treat urinary incontinence after pregnancy. A 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) shows that diastasis recti repair during a tummy tuck can significantly reduce incontinence.
Digestive problems: Rectus dilatation can allow your intestines to move inside your abdomen in ways they’re not meant to. This can lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation and abdominal discomfort. If you have a hernia, the bowel loops can get stuck in the defect now and then. This can cause both pain and constipation. You risk developing a bowel obstruction if a loop gets stuck and doesn’t go back in. If this occurs, you will need immediate surgery.
How Do You Treat Rectus Divarication?
Occasionally, rectus diastasis can improve without any intervention as your body recovers after pregnancy. For most women, however, this is not the case. One non-surgical way to treat diastasis recti is through physiotherapy. Specially focused exercises with a certified physiotherapist can reduce tummy muscle separation and improve your bulging belly. However, this is not usually very effective.
The best and most effective way to treat diastasis recti is surgery. Diastasis recti surgery can permanently close the defect and tighten the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle. Diastasis recti repair is usually done during abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and not alone. A tummy tuck will strengthen your abdominal wall, remove excess skin, and tighten your belly all in one procedure. If you also have a hernia, Dr. Rubinstein will repair it during surgery.
Tummy tuck surgery effectively treats urinary incontinence and back pain after pregnancy. Moreover, abdominoplasty aims to restore your pre-pregnancy body by removing all the excess saggy skin. Liposuction can also be done during the same procedure to sculpt your body and remove the stubborn fat around your belly.
What is muscle separation after tummy tuck, and what are the symptoms?
Muscle separation, also known as diastasis recti, occurs when the abdominal muscles separate, creating a gap between them. Symptoms may include a visible bulge or pooch in the abdominal area, lower back pain, and weak abdominal muscles.
How long does it take to develop symptoms of muscle separation after a tummy tuck?
Symptoms of muscle separation may not be immediately noticeable after a tummy tuck. In some cases, it may take several months for symptoms to become apparent.
How do you know if your muscles separated after a tummy tuck?
The most common symptom of rectus diastasis is a bulging belly. Women with separated tummy muscles usually complain of an obvious protrusion above, below, or around their belly button. In some women, the soft gap between the muscles becomes so wide that bulging can reach the size of a football.
How do you fix a separated stomach muscle?
How can I fix diastasis recti?
- Avoid lifting anything heavier than your baby.
- Roll onto your side when getting out of bed or sitting up. Use your arms to push yourself up.
- Skip activities and movements that push your abdominals outward (like crunches and sit-ups).
How long does it take for stomach muscles to heal after a tummy tuck?
Patients can expect to feel abdominal tightness for 6–12 weeks. In some cases, it can take up to a year to regain normal nerve function. While this can seem alarming, it’s a natural part of the healing process.
What does muscle repair feel like?
After a muscle repair, patients often experience feeling more full quickly when eating and the sensation of not being able to take as deep a breath as they used to. This is due to a decrease in the amount of room inside the abdominal cavity caused by tightening the muscles.