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 13

Tummy tuck and Muscles

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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.

Abdominal strengthening before tummy tuck can't hurt diastasis

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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,


Muscles and tummy tuck

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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.

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Exercise will not correct ab muscles separation

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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.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Exercise beforeTummy Tuck Surgery?

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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.

Abdominal exercises prior to a tummy tuck

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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.

Abdominal exercises

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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.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon

Rectus diastasis and exercise

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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. 

Exercise Safe Before Tummy Tuck

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Even if you do a tremendous amount of abdominal exercises, you will not get rid of Diastasis recti. You can continue to exercise, as it certainly helps improve the results of your tummy tuck surgery, but there is nothing much you can do to your Diastasis recti.

Split muscles and a tummy tuck

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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!

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.