Is a Tummy Tuck Required to Fix Diastasis Recti?

After having twins and another child, my abdominal muscles have stretched apart, causing about a 3 inch space between the two. Can I get the diastasis recti repaired without having a full tummy tuck? 

If this can be done, how would a surgeon go about doing it? And will it create more excess skin? Perhaps a mini tummy tuck would be better?

Doctor Answers 87

Repairing muscles after pregnancy

Yes, you can have just muscle repair done without having a tummy tuck, but I'm not sure that makes sense. After all, the muscle repair is the part of the tummy tuck that hurts the most. If you're going to have that done, why not get the added benefit from a fully tummy tuck with removal of the loose skin on the abdomen?

A mini-tummy tuck does not repair the muscle all the way from the ribs down to the pubic bone, and it does not remove any loose skin around or above the belly button.  After twins plus another child, this "mini" procedure will truly just give you "mini" results, and I would bet you'd be back for a revision within a year.


Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 39 reviews

You will need a full tummy tuck

With the degree of stretching you have sustained, the tightening of your rectus diastasis will leave you with substantially MORE loose skin than you presently have. Only a full tummy tuck can deal with that loose skin properly.

I operated on a woman who had a 3 inch diastasis just last week and it was AMAZING how much skin laxity was present after. I almost needed to do the full horizontal scar plus a full vertical scar to remove it. I was able to use some veteran tricks and avoid the vertical scar but it was very impressive how much skin was there.

I have also tried to do a repair of a wide diastasis after twins through a mini incision and left the skin to shrink because her skin tone seemed excellent. It didn't work well at all and I would never do it that way again.

A full tummy tuck is necessary to repair a diastasis recti, a mini tummy tuck will not

A full tummy tuck is necessary to repair a diastasis recti. During a full tummy tuck, the surgeon can expose all of the rectus muscle so that it can be properly repaired.

A mini tummy tuck is done on the lower abdomen below the umbilicus or belly button. During the mini tummy tuck the surgeon cannot repair the upper part of the rectus muscle.

If the lower muscle diastasis recti is repaired during a mini tummy tuck and the upper muscle is left unrepaired, then an unsightly bulge will be seen in the upper abdomen above the umbilicus.

Diastasis repair

If you have had a few children and now have a diastasis, I would suggest having a full tummy tuck to repair the weak muscles.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Not necessarily

Separation of your rectus abdominis muscles which occurs commonly with pregnancy is readily corrected by suture repair at the time of TT. If the separation is not extensive and only limited to below the belly button, then a "mini" TT may be adequate for correction.

On the other hand, if your issue is mostly a muscle issue without a significant skin problem then it is possible (rare) to perform a repair of the muscles through a small (C-section like) incision with special instruments and even more rare to repair from inside the abdomen usually by a general surgeon.

 

David J. Levens, MD
Coral Springs Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Rectus diastasis and tummy tuck

Hi

There are a number of key anatomical steps in a full tummy tuck:

  1. liposuction of the abdo and flanks
  2. excision of excess lower abdominal tissue
  3. reapproximation of separated rectus muscle
  4. recreation of a belly button

 

If you have no excess skin or fat, then you may be a candidate for a endoscopic assisted tummy tuck where the belly button is "floated" and the muscles reapproximated. The incision is still a transverse one just above the pubic region, but smaller than a full tummy tuck.

If you have excess skin then you will need a mini or full tummy tuck, which one can't be determined until you have been examined by a plastic surgeon.

I hope this helps and good luck.

Pouria

A full tummy tuck is your best option

Having had twins, your abdominal muscles most likely have stretched apart much more than what typically occurs with a single pregnancy. Every patient I have ever seen that has had twins ultimately needed a FULL tummy tuck, even when there is not necessarily that much "loose skin." It is the inside that needs the most tightening, the myofascial wall (covering of the muscles). A mini tummy tuck (or mini-abdominoplasty) is really MINI RESULTS. If you are considering surgical improvement to give you your abdomen back, I would most strongly recommend full correction with a full abdominoplasty.

The abdominoplasty incision I perform is placed low inside of any swimsuit bottom or most underwear. This gives "access" to the abdominal wall which is what needs to be "tightened." You will need tightening (or plication of the fascial wall) in BOTH the lower and upper abdomen. A full tummy tuck gives the BEST access to the upper abdomen. Also when removing the loose skin, it gives the BEST "redraping" of the skin and correct position of the belly button.

A mini-tummy tuck typically ONLY deals with plication in the lower abdomen. It is POSSIBLE, however very challenging to approach the upper abdomen for plication in a mini tummy tuck and the accuracy of doing so will surely be compromised. Also by not incising around the belly button the loose skin in the upper abdomen is not pulled down and oftentimes can end up with a wrinkle or area of residual fullness in the upper abdomen. Also by not incising the belly button the belly button can be "pulled down" unnaturally and it can look weird. There are very few true ideal candidates for a mini-tummy tuck and I would anticipate that someone having had twins with moderate to severe rectus diastasis would NOT be a good candidate for a mini tummy tuck.

I hope this helps!

Diastasis can be repaired without tummy tuck

Hi Mosche,

Yes, you can. The plastic surgeon can repair the diastasis endoscopically, using small incisions. However, the surgeon has to discuss with you if you might need mesh to repair the diastasis; in this case it would be harder to do endoscopically. It is very unusual for someone to need repair of diastasis but not removal of excess skin. If you do have excess skin, in my experience you will be much happier with a full abdominoplasty. Make sure you discuss the pros and cons of each option with your surgeon so you can make the best choice for you that fits your goals. Hope this helps.

Tracy Pfeifer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Diastasis Repair After Pregnancy

Repairing a diastasis without a tummy tuck is possible. However, in most cases the two go hand in hand. Most often when you are doing a full tummy tuck some type of split between the rectus muscles will be noticed because many patients who need tummy tuck surgery have had prior pregnancies. For those patients who have minimal skin excess, but simply a large diastasis there are techniques that would be more similar to a mini tummy tuck length incision, which would allow the surgeon access to the split in the muscles. One fairly common technique is what is called a bellybutton float where the bellybutton or umbilicus is disconnected from the abdominal wall, but left connected to the overlying skin.

After the muscle repair is completed, the skin is shifted down moving the bellybutton into a slightly lower position and some of the skin just above the pubic area is removed leaving a moderate scar, which looks like a long C-section scar. Performing a diastasis repair without any significant incisions would be very difficult, as a certain degree of visual exposure is necessary to perform an accurate repair.

Robert Cohen, MD
Santa Monica Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Is a Tummy Tuck Required to Fix Diastasis Recti?

Thank you for your question!


The mini Tummy tuck would not repair the abdominal muscle it only works for patients with a small pouch in the lower abdomen, With a separation of about 3 inches the best procedure for you is a full Tummy tuck to repair the muscle and tightening the loose skin. Search for a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.


Thank you

Orlando Llorente, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

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