You are eating healthy, exercising and doing plenty of crunches, but still that area of fat in your lower abdomen won’t budge. Are you doing something wrong? Maybe not – there is often an actual medical diagnosis that is the cause. The good news is that it can be fixed!
A condition called diastasis recti may be the reason for this stubborn, protruding belly. This condition occurs when the abdominal muscles in the center of the abdomen are separated, which is most often caused by pregnancy. These muscles in the midline, the core of the abdominal wall, are called the “rectus abdominis” muscles. These are long, thick muscles that run in a pair up and down the length of your abdomen and, when developed, give the appearance of what people often refer to as a “six pack.”
During pregnancy, as the uterus stretches behind the abdominal wall, it can cause the muscles to separate. Sometimes they will not come back together after pregnancy. This causes a space between the abdominal muscles, changing the angle at which they contract and making it all but impossible for crunches and other abdominal exercises to reveal that six pack you are working so hard to achieve.
Extensive weight loss can also lead to this condition and may result in a significant amount of excess skin as well.
Here is an illustration comparing the normal abdominal muscles to the abdomen of a person suffering from diastasis recti:
This space between the rows of abdominal muscles allows internal abdominal contents to come forward. This often results in the appearance of a lower abdominal wall bulge.
How do you know if this condition is what is causing that stubborn belly fat to remain? A board certified plastic surgeon can usually diagnose diastasis recti on physical exam.
A procedure called an abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck, will remove the extra fat, tighten the skin and repair the weakened abdominal muscles to restore a smoother appearance of the abdomen. Once this procedure is complete, the muscles will work normally again, keeping the visceral fat behind the muscular wall and allowing those crunches to actually tone the belly. Mostly importantly, your clothes will fit better around the waistline and that bathing suit will no longer be so scary.
I have had many happy patients after this surgery has been completed. One such patient is Carter, an energetic 41 year old fashion designer, entrepreneur, business owner, and mother of three children who kindly shared her story. Here is what she had to say about how she felt before her tummy tuck and how the results of this procedure changed her daily life,
After my three children were born, I had a strange bulge in my tummy area which I thought was just the result of having 3 children close together in age. I thought that my “mom tummy” was just the price I had to pay for having had 3 babies in 3 years. What I didn’t realize is that I had a condition called diastasis recti, which means that my abdominal muscles didn’t return to normal after having children. No matter how much weight I lost, there was always going to be this unsightly bulge because the muscles were no longer connected properly in my core. It was not just the physical appearance that bothered me, but without abs that functioned normally, doing any sort of physical activity was awkward and uncomfortable.
After doing just a little bit of research, I realized that this was not something I just had to live with, but that it actually could be fixed through surgery, and I would be able to return to the activities like yoga and running that I had enjoyed my entire life. I met Dr. Cohen and she explained what the surgery would involve from start to finish. Her patience and bedside manner put me at ease and gave me the confidence to make the decision to undergo the surgery. She was extremely thoughtful and thorough during every stage of the process and gave me realistic expectations of the different stages of recovery. After the first few days post surgery, I was beginning to return to a normal daily routine, and within a few weeks I was able to enjoy light exercise.
I can happily say that I am now 3 months out from the surgery and I am doing yoga regularly and have even returned to running, something I never thought possible. I have so much more energy plus I feel great in my clothes. I truly believe it has made me a healthier and happier person because I no longer have the physical limitations of having no connection in my core. I can run around and play with my children, and also wear a bathing suit without looking like I just had a baby!
If you are considering repairing your tummy, I would highly recommend a visit with Dr. Cohen. She was absolutely fantastic every step of the way. I am so happy with my results not only because I look and feel healthy, but I feel like myself again.
I am thrilled that Carter is so happy with her results. If you wish to see more before and after photos, please click HERE to go to our before and after gallery. If you would like to have a consult for a tummy tuck or possible diagnosis of diastasis recti, please call 804-288-2800 today for a consult. I would be happy to discuss the procedure, your goals and expected outcome.