Will my Stomach Be Strong Again if I Have Surgery to Correct Diastasis Recti? - Male 33yrs

I am a 33 year old male and doctors told me I have diastasis recti. I have mid to lower back pain and my stomach muscles are weak. A little bulge appears when doing situps. I am an active person. I workout 3-5 times a week. (yoga, boxing, basketball league, tumbling, running, track, etc..) I keep it interesting. I had this problem for 4 months now. Why are HMO doctors not educated about this? Is the tummy tuck the only effective option? Will my stomach be strong again after the procedure?

Doctor Answers 7

Diastasis recti

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It is possible that you have a diastasis recti.  This is something that is diagnosed on physical exam and usually by a plastic surgeon.  Depending on the severity there may be several different ways this can be approached for you.

Limited incisions possible repairing diastasis recti.

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Men can be effected by a congenital diastasis recti, and depending on the severity of the separation, a variety of approaches using limited incisions can be used to repair a diastasis recti.

Correcting Tummy Muscle Separation (Diastasis) does NOT Strengthen the Muscles

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In general, the muscle is more powerful when it is bulkier and can shorten quickly. We would have to take you on your word that you have a Tummy muscle separation (Diastasis) and not a Ventral Hernia. In this case, bringing separated Rectus Abdominis muscles together would flatten the tummy but because the operation does NOT bulk and increase the size of the muscles it cannot strengthen the muscles. This is a major reason why a Tummy Tuck is a COSMETIC operation (improves appearance) but is not a FUNCTIONAL or reconstructive operation. I am not quite sure why someone as active as you would have weak abdominal muscles but if indeed this is the cause of your back pain you may wish to consider swimming to tone thee muscles. Dr. Peter lade

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Muscle strength should not improve but it will align better.

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This is an interesting question and I agree with the other surgeon's posts. If you compare this scenario to holding a bucket of sand. If the bucket weighs the same and you hold it out straight, it gets heavy very quickly. Simply lowering your arm makes the bucket manageable yet muscle strength did not increase, it is simply in the way you are holding it.

When muscles are aligned properly, the ability to flex at the waist should become easier yet exercise is the real way to increase muscle mass and therefore strength. I have had patients state that back pain is improved with an abdominoplasty.

Diastasis repair and muscle strength

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Your muscle strength should be at least as good as it is now, if not better. the reason it might be better is that the muscles are aligned in a more efficient direction for effective use.

The reason back pain may be improved with tightening of the abdominal muscles is that the weight is pushed farther back in the center of gravity where it should be. The spine is curved in such a way that there are centers of gravity that minimize the strain on the back muscles. When these centers are moved forward(as in cases of abdominal muscle weakness) the back gets strained.

Help for low back pain with abdominoplasty

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Interestingly, I have had a number of patients tell me that their low back pain improved after an abdominoplasty with repair of rectus diastasis.  I have never done an abdominoplasty for the purpose of treating low back pain, but the patients who have reported back that they were better was certainly an added bonus to their cosmetic enhancement.  Dr. P

Tummy tuck

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Improving the diastasis recti will not have much of an impact on strengthening of you abdominal muscles.  If the diastasis is so wide, it may, however.  Strengthening through exercise will strengthen you back and abdomen more than a tummy tuck.  Improving the diastasis recti will; however, improve the appearance of the abdomen and give it a more flat and athletic appearance.

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.