Your ab muscles (rectus abdominis) are two long and flat bands that run side by side from the middle of your chest down to your pubic bone. Connective tissue holds them close together, but extreme strain can stretch the tissue and create separation between the muscles.

When that happens, it’s called rectus diastasis. Pregnancy is the most common cause of rectus diastasis, and about 60% of women experience some abdominal separation postpartum.

A small gap between your ab muscles may close on its own with time. But larger gaps can compromise your core stability and contribute to symptoms like pelvic pain, back pain, restricted mobility, and visible belly pooch.

Fortunately, diastasis recti is treatable. Rachel Alt, MD, Brian Prebil, DO, Jarvis Walters, DO, and our team at the Center for Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery, located in Peoria, Arizona, specialize in diastasis recti surgery when needed. Fortunately, most people heal without it.

Here are our tips for recovering from rectus diastasis.

Conservative treatments for rectus diastasis

If you think you have diastasis recti, schedule an appointment with our team. We examine your stomach and measure the gap between your ab muscles to diagnose your condition.

Most of the time, diastasis recti doesn’t require surgery. To speed healing, we usually recommend:

Avoiding heavy lifting

Lifting heavy objects and straining your abdominal muscles only makes diastasis recti worse. If you have postpartum abdominal separation, don’t lift anything heavier than your baby for the first few weeks.

Wearing a compression garment

Weak abdominal muscles are common postpartum, and many women find that compression garments offer relief. Try wearing a belly band or supportive binder that gently holds your ab muscles in place.

While a compression garment won’t heal diastasis recti on its own, it can provide stability, improve your posture, and reduce pain.

Working with a physical therapist

A physical therapist with experience treating diastasis recti can teach you how to rebuild core strength and heal your ab separation. Your therapist reviews your symptoms and your medical history, then guides you through exercises that engage your deep core muscles.

Rebuilding core strength at home

Along with physical therapy, you can perform rectus diastasis exercises at home. Focus on gentle strength training, posture, and deep breathing.

Talk to our team or physical therapist before doing any exercises at home postpartum. Activities that put strain on your ab muscles can actually make rectus diastasis worse, so you need to be careful. Avoid exercises like crunches, sit-ups, and planks.

Minimally invasive surgery for rectus diastasis

If you have significant abdominal separation or you’re unhappy with the way your stomach looks, you might be an optimal candidate for rectus diastasis surgery. We specialize in minimally invasive procedures to bring your ab muscles back together, relieve your symptoms, and restore your confidence.

Rectus diastasis surgery is like a tummy tuck. We make several small incisions around your abdomen. Then, we move your ab muscles closer together and trim away excess tissue.

Minimally invasive surgery offers fewer risks than traditional open surgery, along with less postoperative pain and shorter recovery times. After surgery, you may have surgical drains, and you may need to wear a compression garment for up to six weeks.

We schedule follow-up appointments to monitor your progress as you heal. Most of the time, people can return to their usual daily tasks within about a month of diastasis recti repair surgery.

If you’ve noticed a stomach pooch that’s not going away, it could be rectus diastasis. Schedule a consultation with our team in Peoria, Arizona, to get a diagnosis and find ways to start healing.

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