What is abdominal diastasis ?
Abdominal Diastasis is a physical condition that occurs when the abdominal muscles pull apart and the midline of the belly becomes wider. This condition often occurs in women during pregnancy, when the uterus pushes against stretched and weakened abdominal muscles. Symptoms of abdominal diastasis can include a visible bulge or bulge that persists even after losing weight. People with abdominal diastasis may also experience back pain or pelvic pain due to weakened abdominal muscles.
What are the causes ?
Abdominal diastasis can be caused by several factors, including:
Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the abdominal muscles separate to make room for the growing baby.
Significant weight gain: Rapid and significant weight gain can stretch the abdominal muscles and cause diastasis.
Poor Posture: Incorrect posture can put extra pressure on the abdominal muscles and aggravate an already present diastasis.
Abdominal surgery: Some surgeries can cause abdominal diastasis.
How to diagnose ?
The diagnosis of abdominal diastasis can be made by a medical professional, such as a general practitioner, gynecologist, plastic surgeon or physiotherapist specializing in perineal rehabilitation. Here are the main steps in the diagnostic process:
Physical Examination: The healthcare professional will perform a physical examination of the abdomen to look for signs of abdominal diastasis. This may include visual observation of the abdominal area to detect a bulge or lump, as well as palpation of the area to assess muscle separation.
Muscle Separation Measurement: To assess abdominal diastasis, the healthcare professional can use their fingers to measure stretching of the rectus abdominis muscles. He may ask the patient to contract the abdominal muscles during this measurement.
Additional Testing: In some cases, additional testing may be performed to further assess the condition. This may include imaging techniques such as ultrasound of the abdomen, which can help visualize muscle separation and assess the extent of diastasis.
What are the effects on health and physical appearance ?
Abdominal diastasis can have effects on health and physical appearance, here are some of the common effects:
Weakened abdominal muscles: Abdominal diastasis involves a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles, which can lead to a weakening of the muscles of the abdominal wall. This can impact core stability and compromise core function, which can lead to posture and lumbar support issues.
Core Stability Issues: When abdominal muscles are weakened due to diastasis, it may be more difficult to maintain adequate core stability. It can affect the ability to perform certain physical activities, increase the risk of spinal-related injuries, and compromise pelvic floor function.
Aesthetic issues: Abdominal diastasis can cause a protrusion or lump in the abdomen, which can alter physical appearance. Some may feel uncomfortable with this appearance and may have self-esteem issues.
Lower back and abdominal pain: In some people, abdominal diastasis can contribute to lower back and abdominal pain. Weakened abdominal muscles can lead to an increased load on other supporting structures, such as back muscles, which can cause pain.
Functional issues: In some cases, abdominal diastasis can also be associated with digestive issues, such as difficulty to digest food or symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
What exercises are recommended to strengthen abdominal muscles and reduce diastasis ?
Here are some recommended exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles and reduce diastasis:
Plank: Get into a plank position with your elbows bent and your forearms on the floor. Hold the position for 30 seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise several times.
Modified crunches: Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet flat on the floor. Place your hands behind your neck and lift your head and shoulders slightly off the floor. Repeat this exercise several times.
Abdominal stretches: Sit with your legs crossed and stretch your arms up to the sky. Slowly lean forward, keeping your back straight. Hold the position for 20 to 30 seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise several times.
How to treat ?
Specific exercises: One of the most common ways to treat abdominal diastasis is to perform specific exercises to strengthen the abdominal muscles . Exercises such as sit-ups, crunches, and planks can help strengthen abdominal muscles and bring the midline closer.
However, it is important to note that not all abdominal exercises are suitable for abdominal diastasis. It is recommended that you consult a physical therapist or exercise specialist for specific exercise recommendations.
Surgery: In the most severe cases of abdominal diastasis, surgery may be recommended. This surgery brings the abdominal muscles together and strengthens the abdominal wall.
However, surgery has risks and involves a recovery period. It is therefore important to consult a qualified surgeon to assess whether this option is suitable for each patient.
Manual Therapy: Manual therapy is also a treatment option for abdominal diastasis. This approach is performed by a qualified physiotherapist or osteopath who uses manual techniques to strengthen the muscles and bring the midline closer.
Manual therapy can also be used in conjunction with specific exercises to achieve optimal results.
Abdominal Belts: Abdominal belts can be useful to support the abdominal muscles and help reduce the gap. However, it is important to note that abdominal belts are not a long-term solution and should be used with caution.
How is the surgery performed ?
Abdominal diastasis surgery, also called abdominoplasty or abdominoplasty, aims to repair the separation of the abdominal muscles and restore a stronger and toned abdominal wall. Here is a general overview of the surgical procedure:
Pre-Consultation: Prior to surgery, you will meet with your plastic surgeon to discuss your expectations, assess your overall health and examine your abdomen. The surgeon will explain the procedure of the surgery, the associated risks and answer all your questions.
Anesthesia: Abdominal diastasis surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep for the entire the duration of the operation.
Incisions: The surgeon will make incisions in the abdominal area. The length and position of the incisions may vary depending on the extent of the diastasis and other aesthetic corrections desired. The incisions are usually located in the lower abdominal area, along the pubic line, and may extend towards the hips.
Muscle repair: Once the incisions are made, the surgeon will access the abdominal muscles. He will suture the rectus abdominis muscles together, bringing them together and tightening them to fix the diastasis. This step strengthens the abdominal wall and improves trunk stability.
Reduction of excess skin and fat: After repairing the muscles, the surgeon can perform a reduction excess skin and fat, if necessary. This may involve removing loose skin and excess fatty tissue to achieve a smoother, more toned abdominal contour.
Closing the incisions: Once the corrections have been made, the surgeon will close the incisions with sutures. Dressings or a pressure bandage will be applied to the treated area to help with healing.
How long does it take to recover ?
Recovery time after abdominal diastasis repair surgery can vary from person to person depending on several factors, such as the extent of the surgery, individual healing ability and compliance with postoperative instructions. However, here is a general estimate of the recovery period:
Hospitalization: Most patients are usually hospitalized for 1-2 days after surgery. This helps monitor initial healing, manage pain, and ensure you are in stable condition before you go home.
First week: During the first week after surgery, you may experience discomfort, pain and some level of swelling. You will need to follow your surgeon's recommendations regarding pain medications, dressings, and wearing a compression garment to help reduce swelling and support the abdominal area. You should avoid strenuous physical activity and rest as much as possible.
Second week: During the second week, you may begin to feel an improvement in your comfort. You will need to continue to avoid strenuous activities, but you can begin to move around and resume some light daily activities, while avoiding excessive physical exertion.
Four to six weeks: During the first four to six weeks after surgery, you will need to continue to follow the instructions your surgeon regarding physical activity and postoperative care. You will usually be able to resume lighter activities, but it is important to avoid any exercise or movement that could put excessive strain on the abdominal area.
Three to six months: Full recovery may take three to six months or even longer depending on the complexity of the surgery and your individual recovery process.
What are the expected results ?
Expected results after abdominal diastasis repair may vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition.
However, typical results may include:
Reducing Diastasis: Repairing abdominal diastasis involves bringing the rectus abdominis muscles together to reduce tension. space between them. This can greatly improve the appearance of the abdomen.
Core Strength Enhancement: Abdominal diastasis can limit a person's core strength. By repairing diastasis, core strength can be improved, which can help provide better back support and improve posture.
Lower back pain reduction: Abdominal diastasis can also cause lower back pain. By repairing diastasis, it can reduce lower back pain and improve overall quality of life.