The rectus abdominis muscles are also known as the “six pack” that people strive to develop. They are connected along the midline by the linea alba. This band of connective tissue runs from the sternum to the pubic bone. Pregnancy can cause these muscles to separate due to pressure from the growing baby and the hormonal changes that take place, causing connective tissue to become more relaxed.
After giving birth, most mothers will notice that the muscles go back to their normal position over time. Women who have multiple pregnancies or a large baby may notice the separation lingering. This separation of the rectus abdominis muscles is called diastasis recti. It shows as a tummy pooch, or a hump when you contract your abdominal muscles, as when doing sit ups or crunches. This condition is not limited to women, nor pregnant women.
The Parting of the Abs
While the most common cause of diastasis recti is pregnancy, there are other causes which can affect both men and women, including those women who have never been pregnant. Among them are:
- Advanced age
- Some abdominal exercises
- Frequent or rapid changes in weight
- Swelling of the abdomen due to fluids from conditions like cirrhosis of the liver or cancer in the abdomen
Diastasis recti can affect your appearance, but more importantly, you may also experience low back pain, constipation and bloating. It can also affect your posture and contribute to hernia. You should consult with a doctor before engaging in exercises, as some can actually do more harm than good.
Closing the Gap
Many women choose surgical repair for their diastasis recti in pursuit of a flatter tummy. When considering surgery, whether for aesthetic or other reasons, it is important to be realistic about the possible outcomes. If your diastasis recti is a result of pregnancy, your hormones need to return to normal, as they affect connective tissue for months after childbirth.
Dr. Jones is happy to consult with patients interested in repairing the abdominal muscles. Call today to schedule your consultation appointment.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Mark Mitchell Jones, Atlanta Plastic Surgery Specialists, P.C.