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What is a Diastasis?

(By Dr. Daniel Careaga, MD)

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What is a diastasis? A diastasis is a muscle weakness of the abdominal wall. You have to think that your abdominal wall is kind of like a sandwich. There’s two layers of bread and a layer of meat.

The meat is the muscles. The bread is the connective tissue. With pregnancies, the connective tissue that holds the muscles stretches to accommodate the growing uterus. Oftentimes it does shrink back to normal, And the patient (the mom) stays flat. But many times the muscles stay stretched, open, damaged. And that’s what we call a diastasis. It creates an unsightly bulge.

It makes exercise sometimes difficult and in severe cases it can actually cause back pain because the abdominal contents, the abdominal organs push forward and it changes the center of gravity of your body. So tummy tucks have actually been shown to reduce back pain in patients who have significant diastasis. One of the most common misconceptions that I get about diastasis is that spending time in the gym and doing abdominal exercises will correct it. And that is unfortunately not the case.

So as I mentioned earlier, the abdominal muscles are like a sandwich and the part that gets stretched and damaged is the connective tissue. Since it is connective tissue that does not respond to exercises. So a patient can spend three to four hours in the gym every day doing abdominal exercises for 20 years and there will not be a significant improvement in the diastasis because it does not address the connective tissue. The only way to correct the diastasis is through an abdominoplasty, what we call a tummy tuck.

In the tummy tuck I make an incision that goes hidden below the bikini line. I lift the skin and fat off of the muscles. I repair the muscles all the way from the chest down to the pubis. And this is the key to leave the person flat and firm and then, of course, remove all the extra skin and liposuction for contour So diastasis, even though is not a hernia, it still creates a significant aesthetic deformity. And the only way to correct it is through a tummy tuck.

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