Abdominal separation: what you need to know

Written by: Mr Navid Jallali
Published:
Edited by: Nicholas Howley

Are you struggling to get back to a flat stomach after pregnancy? Or have you noticed a bulge that’s only developed since you started weightlifting? You could have a problem with your abdominal muscles that sit-ups won’t cure, as consultant plastic surgeon Mr Navid Jallali explains…

What is abdominal separation?

Abdominal separation also known as divarication of recti (DOR), is where the two sides of your rectus abdominis muscle, located at the front on your stomach, become separated.

The separation causes a bulge in the middle of the abdomen that is sometimes mistaken for a hernia. As well as being unsightly, abdominal separation can also make it harder to lift things and cause lower back pain. This is often an overlooked functional problem with DOR.

Why does it happen?

Abdominal separation most often occurs during pregnancy as the womb expands out of the pelvis, but it can occur whenever too much pressure is placed on the abdominal muscles. Other possible causes include rapid weight gain and loss or weightlifting. This means that although it’s most commonly associated with women post-pregnancy, it can happen to men as well! If you experience abdominal separation during pregnancy the two sides of the muscle can come back together after you’ve given birth, but they may not be as close as before. The separation is likely to be greater if you are carrying twins or a large baby.

Can it be cured with exercise?

For some people exercise can help, but for others no matter how many sit-ups you do, it is impossible to regain a completely flat stomach. This is because the two muscles are wide apart and they cannot fuse back together again in the middle.

For many people, surgery is the only option for bringing the two sides of your abdominal muscles back together. Abdominoplasty – or tummy tuck surgery – is one of the most commonly performed procedures by plastic surgeons and is becoming increasingly popular among men.

How does a tummy-tuck help?

A tummy-tuck procedure aims to restore a flat stomach by removing excess skin and tightening up the abdominal muscles. It can get rid of that central bulge and improve the overall look and feel of your stomach. You can also combine a tummy-tuck with liposuction, if you’re bothered by excess fat around your flanks and central abdomen.

There are several types of tummy tuck procedure available and you will be fully assessed by Mr Jallali. Mr. Jallali will discuss the range of different procedures that are available and advise which may be most suitable for you. If you’d like to discuss tummy-tuck surgery in a consultation with Mr Jallali, click here.

By Mr Navid Jallali
Plastic surgery

Mr Navid Jallali is a highly respected surgeon and has been practising for over 15 years specialising in breast augmentation and reduction, facelifts, rhinoplasty and tummy tucks.

Dedicated to his profession, he and his team have served hundreds of patients with the utmost of care. He is also a well-published research author, a member of the Royal Society of Medicine, has won numerous awards, and has even appeared on and advised for television productions. He can be found in both his private clinic and NHS practice.

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