What is Diastasis? How to Get Rid of a Tummy Pooch After Pregnancy
By Houston Plastic Surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella
Diastasis is a separation of the midline abdominal fascia. Fascia is that gristle tissue—a very strong, inelastic tissue—which covers muscles throughout our body. Between your vertical rectus muscles, there is a thick layer of fascia.
When a woman becomes pregnant, that layer of fascia must stretch to accommodate the growing fetus. So the space between the rectus muscles widens. And exercise is ineffective to bring them back together or change the degree of separation that is present because, again, it’s not muscular tissue, it’s fascia. Exercise can improve the strength of the rectus muscle, but it won’t change the gap between the muscles.
Frequently, a woman who has a significant diastasis will notice that when she does a sit-up or an abdominal crunch, there will be a tenting effect in the midline above and below the belly button where you can actually see a bulge present. And that represents the separation of the rectus muscles.
So while exercise is ineffective to improve diastasis, surgery is effective. Diastasis can be treated. It requires a tummy tuck procedure whereby an incision is made along the lower abdomen, the skin is lifted away from the muscle, and the separation between the muscles is repaired. It’s a very effective technique. The diastasis rarely recurs, so the repair holds up well over time.
I ask my patients to wait three months after having a tummy tuck before they do abdominal exercises so that the repair is strong and sturdy before being challenged by exercises of the core abdomen.