Middle of stomach sinking in around belly button after giving birth? (Photo)

It's been over a year since I gave birth, not really bothered by my stretch marks but why are the areas around my belly button sinking in, and my belly button sticking out? I believe I have diastasis recti? Could a tummy tuck fix this?

Doctor Answers 10

Rectus diastasis repair

People who have especially slack skin in their midsection need more than what liposuction alone can offer. Typical candidates for a full tummy tuck are women with drooping abdomens after pregnancy, women and men who've lost a great deal of weight, menopausal women, or older people with loose skin due to age. In the tummy tuck, the skin from the rib cage down to the pelvic area is tightened, and the navel is moved up and secured in a new position. Alternatively, a mini-tummy tuck is especially effective for people who look pretty good from the navel up. The main difference between the 2 procedures is that the mini-tummy tuck doesn't require moving or reconstructing the navel and the incision is shorter than the one made in a full tummy tuck.

Pregnancy induced rectus diastasis can cause a significant shape change to the abdominal wall, even for very slender patients. Because the tissue between the muscles has been permanently stretched, no amount of exercise will restore the shape of the abdomen. Rectus diastasis is repaired through the surgical technique of an abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck. This skin is lifted near the pubic hair, and elevated to the level of the breast bone. The muscles are tightened in the midline where the tissue had been stretched by pregnancy. Permanent stitches are often used. In the most severe cases, mesh is used to reinforce the central repair area.

If you only want skin correction and don’t want surgery, you might consider Thermage. Thermage® is a safe, non-invasive, radiofrequency (RF) cosmetic procedure that’s clinically proven to help smooth, tighten and contour skin for an overall younger looking appearance. Thermage® uses radiofrequency technology to heat the deep, collagen rich layers of your skin. The heat helps tighten existing collagen and stimulate the formation of new collagen, which reduces sagging, renews contours, and improves the smoothness and texture of the skin’s surface. Thermage® can treat wrinkled, crepey, sagging or bulging skin as well as the appearance of cellulite. I suggest you make an appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon who can discuss your options with you in detail.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 10 reviews

Changes after giving birth

You are correct in saying you have diastasis recti. This means your paired vertically oriented rectus abdominus muscles have separated from one another causing your abdomen to look the way it does. A tummy tuck will fix this. In performing a tummy tuck, the rectus abdominus muscles are brought back together into a "youthful" re alignment. This should improve the appearance of your belly button and the tissues around it. Obtain a consultation from a board certified plastic surgeon in your area to discuss further.

Paul M. Parker, MD, FACS
Paramus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Sinking around umbilicus after pregnancy

you indeed have a diastases recti which is giving you the impression of your abdomen sinking.  There is no muscle under the skin just thick fascia..  An abdominoplasty would bring muscles back to the midline and eliminate this defect.  You would get a very nice result.

David J. Goodkind, MD
New Haven Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Tummy tuck

Yes -- it appears as if you are an excellent candidate for a tummy tuck with repair of the diastasis recti. You need and in person examination to know for sure, but from my experience and your photos, it looks as if a TT is the solution.

William B. Rosenblatt, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Umbilical hernia and diastasis rectus can be fixed by tummy tuck

Your umbilicus appears to be protruding in a sea of retruded skin. It appears your fascia under your skin is stretched as is your skin. You would benefit by a skilled abdominoplasty or tummy tuck to fix your fascia, belly button hernia and improve your excess stretched out skin. See a board certified general surgeon or plastic surgeon concerning your hernia. Good luck....r

Larry Weinstein, MD
Morristown Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Stomach sinking in around belly

This is the result of separation of the central belly muscle, in medical terms rectus abdominis diastasis. This is a frequent consequence of pregnancies.  If you are not considering to have more babies, you  can eliminate this (and exces of the redundant skin) via tummy tuck. Good luck!

Boris Mordkovich, MD
Englewood Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews


Thank you for your posted photos and question. Yes you do appear to have diastasis recti and possibly a small umbilical hernia. Combination surgery of a TT and hernia repair may be indicated.  See a BCPS for examination and recommendations. 

Best of luck. 

Dr. Burnett

Carlos Burnett, MD, FACS
Westfield Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews


This is a diastasis of the rectus muscles. It can be surgically corrected but is considered cosmetic by the insurance companies. A modified abdominoplasty could correct this. If you are planning to have more children, you may want to wait until childbearing has been completed. Good luck!

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Rectus separation

This is what we call rectus diastasis. The two vertical rectus muscles were stretched during your pregnancy and did not go back together. A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a cosmetic procedure which you may be interested in. Please see a board certified plastic surgeon for consultation. Good Luck!

Gregory T. Lynam, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Diastasis - Tummy tuck

The sunken appearance is caused by a diastasis recti which is a result of the muscles stretching and separating from pregnancy. Based on limited photos but without an examination, you appear anatomically to be an excellent candidate for a full abdominoplasty. The muscle separation is repaired in that procedure.

Following the advice of anyone who would presume to tell you what to do based on two dimensional photos without taking a full medical history, examining you, feeling and assessing your tissue tone, discussing your desired outcome and fully informing you about the pros and cons of each option would not be in your best interest. Find a plastic surgeon that you are comfortable with and one that you trust and listen to his or her advice. The surgeon should be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and ideally a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS). You should discuss your concerns with that surgeon in person.

Robert Singer, MD FACS

La Jolla, California

Robert Singer, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 19 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.