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WIll Exercise Further Damage Ab Muscles if They Are Seperated?

I previously had extremely tight ab muscles so I think damage to my ab muscles has occured after my second child's birth (c-section, 9 lbs./11oz baby). My stomach appears to have a bloated "pregnant" look as well as a small pannus over the c-section scar.

I am trying to get in best shape possible before going in for a consultation for tummy tuck. If the muscles have been separated, will scrunches and jackknifes make my situation worse or will it further damage the muscles? I used to be the sit-up queen now I feel like the Pillsbury dough girl.

Doctor Answers (12)

Tummy tuck and Muscles


No, exercising will not damage or hurt things in any way.  It keeps you in shape and help you in your recovery.  So by all means, continue with your exercise and go see a board certified plastic surgeon to go over you options as far as a tummy tuck goes.

Good luck.

Web reference:

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Abdominal strengthening before tummy tuck can't hurt diastasis


There should be nothing to discourage you from being in the best physical shape you hope to be in before a tummy tuck. A diastasis is a normal and natural separation in the sit-up muscles that can occur with pregnancy. The abdomen can otherwise be strong and you can have a full active life style, though the diastasis can cause the contour of the abdomen to suffer. Unfortunately, exercise will not improve the diastasis though it will improve how you feel, and improve your recovery after a tummy tuck.

Best of luck,


Web reference:

Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

Exercise will not correct ab muscles separation


It will not make a difference either way.

The rectus muscles are where they are because our bodies are engineered to allow the muscles to slide sideways with pregnancy, obesity etc. Your doing 1,000 crunches a day (I had a patient who did that...) would get the muscles larger - but it will NOT get them back together again.

If you are done having your family, judging from your photo you would be a great candidate for a formal abdominoplasty. So if you want to go to the gym for the sake of the exercise -- that's fine. You are wasting your time if you think it will do anything of significance for the tummy wall.

Good Luck.

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Exercise beforeTummy Tuck Surgery?


Thank you for the question and picture.

No,  exercise will not “damage” separated muscles.  On the contrary,  exercise will help you reach your goal weight  and be in the best condition possible (physically and emotionally)  prior to undergoing a major operation. You will be able to benefit from these physical and emotional “reserves after your operation.

Best wishes as you reach your goals.

Web reference:

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 626 reviews

Abdominal exercises prior to a tummy tuck



Your abdominal exercises will not worsen the spread between your muscles. Getting into the best shape possible prior to surgery will make your recovery easier and faster, and will also allow you to maintain your new look. Good luck.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Abdominal exercises


You should be sure to do the correct exercises to tone the abdominal muscle. The best type of toning exercise is isometric which is really not crunches. Go visit a personal trainer to get a quick session on the correct exercise technique. Some exercises might make your muscles worse or even cause hernias.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Rectus diastasis and exercise


The separation of your muscles is called a rectus diastasis and it is neither harmed nor corrected by exercise.  The muscle tightening in a tummy tuck fixes it. 

Web reference:

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Muscles and tummy tuck


The problem with the muscles in a tummy tuck is NOT the muscles. The muscles are covered with a layer called fascia. With pregnancy the muscles, skin and fascia get stretched out. The muscle adjusts to the volume that is inside the belly so if the volume goes down the muscles shrink down. When you exercise the muscles they get stronger and bigger. The skin and fascia can also shrink but they usually do so incompletely so they are the layers that are stretched out and they are the layers that are tightened.

Harrisburg Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Split muscles and a tummy tuck


The six packs, or the rectus abdominus muscles, are split apart as a result of weight gain/loss or pregnancy leading to a rectus diastasis.  Unfortunately, sit ups or other abdominal exercises will not fix this diastasis.  They will not hurt it, however.  The only treatment is unfortunately surgery and a muscle plication.  Best of luck!

Wellesley Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Abdominal exercises in the face of rectus diastasis


The short answer is that additional exercises will not harm your rectus diastasis.  As a result of your last pregnancy, your rectus muscles have separated and are now not functioning as efficiently due to their malposition.  A formal abdominoplasty can correct this.  Also, you should realize that the rectus muscles work in conjunction with the obliques and that any abdominal/core workout program should encompass all of the muscles.  If you are ready, please go see a board certified plastic surgeon and hear about all of your options.  Keep us posted of your progress and best wishes.

Richmond Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.

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