Is diastasis recti repair surgery (with a vertical incision) a good alternative to a tummy tuck? (photo)

I have 7.8cm diastasis recti & recently had umbilical hernia repair with mesh by a general surgeon. After the procedure he informed me he could repair my diastasis with a vertical incision and tightening the muscles. This procedure has a much higher rate of being covered by my insurance (Tricare) than a tummy tuck. Is this a good idea or should I suck it up & pay 10k for a tummy tuck? I understand I will have a scar up my abdomen and I would have a plastic surgeon remove any excess skin.

Doctor Answers 7

Insurance Coverage for Rectus Diastasis?

I have no idea why it was recommended that you have a vertical incision for what is supposed to be a cosmetic procedure. Although your abdomen is prominent, correction of the separation of the muscles (rectus diastasis) is part of a tummy tuck, and the incision for a tummy tuck is a low, hidden transverse incision hidden in the bikini line.  Also, rectus diastasis is not covered by insurance. Period. A ventral hernia is, but rectus diastasis is not a ventral hernia.  While full correction of your rectus diastasis could be challenging, and mesh overlay at the time of surgery would likely be helpful, this is not an insurance covered procedure, so what you have been told should not be taken at face value.  You would be best served by one or more in person consultations with board-certified plastic surgeons who regularly do tummy tucks and are concerned with the best aesthetic outcome. A vertical scar would never be considered an optimal aesthetic outcome.  As Dr. Corbin has pointed out, when a general surgeon does an umbilical hernia repair, the blood supply to the umbilicus may be compromised enough that the skin would die if the usual incisions around the umbilicus during a tummy tuck are made, and then you may need umbilical reconstruction rather than just transposition of the stalk.  All these factors make it even more important that you see an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon.

Mountain View Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Tummy tuck?

You need a tummy tuck in order to prevent a vertical skin incision / scar. Vertical incision would ruin any cosmetic results gained by performing muscle plication.

Arian Mowlavi, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

Repair of Abdominal muscles

Good morning and thank you for your question and photos! While I understand your concern for cost savings, I am more concerned that you get the proper care and treatment for your areas of concern. The goal of any procedure is to resolve the issue with as little down time for the patient all while keeping you as healthy as possible. It would be best in my opinion if you were able to lose a few inches around your waisteline prior to surgery then go in and repair your muscles and remove excess skin and tissue all at the same time. This is a very complicated procedure and one that takes good training on behalf of the surgeon. And only board certified plastic surgeons can guarantee that. So when you are ready to priced, please consult with a board certified plastic surgeon for an in person examination. Best of luck to you! I feel you can achieve great results from abdominoplasty. 

Michael K. Obeng, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Visceral Fat and Abdominal Bulge

Hello,Unfortunately, an examination is required to determine how much affect your visceral fat has on your current abdominal appearance. If you have too much, no repair will last or even look good to begin with. If that is the case, weight loss would be required prior to surgery. Please visit a few ABPS certified/ASAPS member surgeons for an evaluation.Best of luck!

Gerald Minniti, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Diastasis recti repair

Thank you for your question and photos.  In general a diastasis recti is corrected during a tummy tuck surgery.  What you propose is going to require two surgeries and ultimately more down time and money.  I would also find out from your insurance if the diastasis repair would in fact be covered by your insurance (because it might not be).  Seek out some Board Certified Plastic Surgeons in your area that perform abdominoplasty surgery to get more of a customized quote and recommendation.  Best of luck to you

Milind K. Ambe, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 31 reviews


Thank you you for the question and photo and prior to further surgery I would try to lose weight.  I would also check to make certain your umbilical stalk was not cut with your hernia repair as that would affect how an abdominoplasty might be done
Dr Corbin

Frederic H. Corbin, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Is diastasis recti repair surgery (with a vertical incision) a good alternative to a tummy tuck?

Thank you for your question and photos.  One must assess the tradeoffs of each option.  In my experience I have not had a diastasis repair covered by insurance.  One should get a review and preauthorization for the procedure submitted to the insurance before any surgery is done.  If it is approved then the trade off is a visible scar for less investment.  If one values the correction of the diastasis more than the appearance of the final result then it may be reasonable.  However, if the diastasis repair is approved by the insurance a plastic surgeon could do the repair.  Good luck.

David J. Wages, MD
Peabody Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 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.