Cosmetic Surgery Tips

Recovery from tummy tuck with muscle repair

Mommy makeovers are one of our specialties here at FORM Face + Body, and a tummy tuck with diastasis recti muscle repair is a procedure that we perform very frequently. Today we’re shedding some light on the questions patients commonly have for us and sharing some of our real patient results.

What is a diastasis recti?

A diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) that can cause some unwanted side effects. During pregnancy, a person’s abdomen naturally becomes distended as it accommodates the growing baby. After giving birth, the abdominal muscles contract back together. In some cases, they have stretched so far apart that they can no longer knit themselves back together naturally. This results in a gap that can cause discomfort or a weaker core, and can also cause a protrusion of the abdomen that cannot be addressed with weight loss or exercise. Some patients come to us referring to a ‘bulge’ or a ‘pooch’ that never seems to go away. In these cases, surgery can be a good option to restore your stomach muscles and the contour of your abdomen to its pre-pregnancy state.

How common is diastasis recti?

One review showed that as many as 66% of women experience diastasis recti during the third trimester, with 30-60% continuing to experience the condition after birth.

How do I know if I have a diastasis recti severe enough for surgery?

Bodies need plenty of time to heal after giving birth. After being cleared by your physician, gentle exercise can help to strengthen the abdominal muscles and bring them back together. However, in some cases a gap remains that cannot be closed without surgical intervention. A gap between your abdominal muscles of 2cm or more that remains after 3 months of exercise may necessitate surgery. You can ask your family doctor to assess you for diastasis recti, or you can try performing a self-examination first. We can also check for this when you visit us for your surgical consultation.

How is a diastasis recti repaired?

At FORM, we perform a type of muscle repair that begins at the insertion of the rectus abdominis, near your sternum, and goes all the way down to the pubic bone. We use a special barbed dissolvable suture and perform a triple layer of muscle repair. Barbed sutures interlock with the tissues they are connecting and have increased holding power. This combination of techniques ensures that the repair is very sturdy and less likely to separate again over time.

What are the results of a tummy tuck with muscle repair?

A tummy tuck with diastasis recti repair can have dramatic results. A typical treatment plan will include excision of any excess skin, repair and tightening of the muscle tissues, and contouring liposuction to remove excess fat and sculpt a streamlined shape. We’ve seen many of our patients come in with a very significant abdominal protrusion and leave with a nearly perfectly flat side profile. This is why it’s one of our favourite transformational procedures!

In addition to a tummy tuck, many of our post-pregnancy patients choose to combine procedures in a mommy makeover and benefit from a single recovery time. This can include a breast surgery like a reduction, lift, and/or augmentation, additional liposuction as needed, and fat transfer to the hip dips, breasts, or buttocks.

Tummy Tuck with Diastasis Recti Repair Before and After

How much scarring will I have from a tummy tuck with diastasis repair?

This will depend on your specific surgical plan. With any tummy tuck, you will have a horizontal incision that we typically place just below the underwear line so it can be easily concealed under clothing or bathing suits. A mini tummy tuck requires a shorter incision, while a full tummy tuck will extend from hip to hip. In a full tummy tuck, a second incision around the belly button will allow it to be repositioned in the appropriate location once the excess skin and fat has been addressed. Your surgeon will determine which type of procedure you are a good candidate for. While the incision lines will remain permanently visible to some extent, they will heal and fade over time. We can guide you in a scar care routine to ensure optimal healing.

Can you treat a diastasis recti without surgery?

Some prenatal strengthening exercises can help to reduce the likelihood of diastasis recti and can also help to repair a mild separation, but for gaps of 2cm or more we don’t recommend self-treating without the advice of a physician.

What is diastasis recti repair surgery recovery like?

Recovery from a tummy tuck with muscle repair ranges from 3-6 weeks depending on your surgical plan. You will experience some bruising and swelling, and may need to wear a supportive compression garment while you heal. You will need to refrain from exercise and avoid straining, bending, and lifting heavy objects. You will be asked to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees for at least 3 weeks after surgery. You should also avoid driving for 2-4 weeks after surgery, as any pain or limited mobility can impair your ability to drive safely.

How much does a tummy tuck with diastasis recti repair cost?

A tummy tuck at our Toronto clinic ranges from $10,000 to $15,000 depending on whether you require a mini or full tummy tuck. Diastasis recti repair is included with both procedures, if needed.

Is a diastasis recti tummy tuck covered by insurance in Canada?

Currently, diastasis recti repair with or without a tummy tuck in Ontario is not covered by OHIP. Many private insurers do not cover this procedure either, but check with your provider to be certain.

Recovery from tummy tuck with muscle repair

Mommy makeovers are one of our specialties here at FORM Face + Body, and a tummy tuck with diastasis recti muscle repair is a procedure that we perform very frequently. Today we’re shedding some light on the questions patients commonly have for us and sharing some of our real patient results.

What is a diastasis recti?

A diastasis recti is a separation of the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominis) that can cause some unwanted side effects. During pregnancy, a person’s abdomen naturally becomes distended as it accommodates the growing baby. After giving birth, the abdominal muscles contract back together. In some cases, they have stretched so far apart that they can no longer knit themselves back together naturally. This results in a gap that can cause discomfort or a weaker core, and can also cause a protrusion of the abdomen that cannot be addressed with weight loss or exercise. Some patients come to us referring to a ‘bulge’ or a ‘pooch’ that never seems to go away. In these cases, surgery can be a good option to restore your stomach muscles and the contour of your abdomen to its pre-pregnancy state.

How common is diastasis recti?

One review showed that as many as 66% of women experience diastasis recti during the third trimester, with 30-60% continuing to experience the condition after birth.

How do I know if I have a diastasis recti severe enough for surgery?

Bodies need plenty of time to heal after giving birth. After being cleared by your physician, gentle exercise can help to strengthen the abdominal muscles and bring them back together. However, in some cases a gap remains that cannot be closed without surgical intervention. A gap between your abdominal muscles of 2cm or more that remains after 3 months of exercise may necessitate surgery. You can ask your family doctor to assess you for diastasis recti, or you can try performing a self-examination first. We can also check for this when you visit us for your surgical consultation.

How is a diastasis recti repaired?

At FORM, we perform a type of muscle repair that begins at the insertion of the rectus abdominis, near your sternum, and goes all the way down to the pubic bone. We use a special barbed dissolvable suture and perform a triple layer of muscle repair. Barbed sutures interlock with the tissues they are connecting and have increased holding power. This combination of techniques ensures that the repair is very sturdy and less likely to separate again over time.

What are the results of a tummy tuck with muscle repair?

A tummy tuck with diastasis recti repair can have dramatic results. A typical treatment plan will include excision of any excess skin, repair and tightening of the muscle tissues, and contouring liposuction to remove excess fat and sculpt a streamlined shape. We’ve seen many of our patients come in with a very significant abdominal protrusion and leave with a nearly perfectly flat side profile. This is why it’s one of our favourite transformational procedures!

In addition to a tummy tuck, many of our post-pregnancy patients choose to combine procedures in a mommy makeover and benefit from a single recovery time. This can include a breast surgery like a reduction, lift, and/or augmentation, additional liposuction as needed, and fat transfer to the hip dips, breasts, or buttocks.

Tummy Tuck with Diastasis Recti Repair Before and After

How much scarring will I have from a tummy tuck with diastasis repair?

This will depend on your specific surgical plan. With any tummy tuck, you will have a horizontal incision that we typically place just below the underwear line so it can be easily concealed under clothing or bathing suits. A mini tummy tuck requires a shorter incision, while a full tummy tuck will extend from hip to hip. In a full tummy tuck, a second incision around the belly button will allow it to be repositioned in the appropriate location once the excess skin and fat has been addressed. Your surgeon will determine which type of procedure you are a good candidate for. While the incision lines will remain permanently visible to some extent, they will heal and fade over time. We can guide you in a scar care routine to ensure optimal healing.

Can you treat a diastasis recti without surgery?

Some prenatal strengthening exercises can help to reduce the likelihood of diastasis recti and can also help to repair a mild separation, but for gaps of 2cm or more we don’t recommend self-treating without the advice of a physician.

What is diastasis recti repair surgery recovery like?

Recovery from a tummy tuck with muscle repair ranges from 3-6 weeks depending on your surgical plan. You will experience some bruising and swelling, and may need to wear a supportive compression garment while you heal. You will need to refrain from exercise and avoid straining, bending, and lifting heavy objects. You will be asked to sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees for at least 3 weeks after surgery. You should also avoid driving for 2-4 weeks after surgery, as any pain or limited mobility can impair your ability to drive safely.

tummy tuck muscle repair failure symptoms

Not all tummy tucks are alike. Some involve more extensive surgery than others, and for this reason, what to expect during recovery can vary from person to person. The aim of the tummy tuck is to slim and tighten the waist for a more shapely and youthful appearance, but the surgical route to get you there (and into some cute new clothes) can vary quite a bit.

Depending on the amount of excess skin and fat to be removed, incisions can be shorter or more extensive, including the repositioning of the belly button. But one of the biggest factors to impact recovery from a tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, is whether or not a muscle repair is included.

Why the muscle sometimes needs a repair

If you have seen the abs on even one superhero you will know the muscle we are talking about. It is called the rectus abdominis and it runs vertically from your sternum to your pubic bone. It has a left and right side separated down the middle by a band of tissue called the linea alba.

The linea alba can become over stretched, usually during pregnancy but also due to extreme weight gain or a lifting injury. When this happens the two sides of the muscle move further apart, resulting in an outward bulging of the belly that doesn’t go away, even when weight (baby or otherwise) is gone. This condition is called diastasis recti.

Besides being a cosmetic issue for some people, this condition can affect posture and trunk strength. It can cause pain in the abdomen, hips, and back, as well as bowel and bladder issues, all of which can have a huge impact on quality of life.

Why the muscle sometimes doesn’t need a repair

Not all tummy tucks include a muscle repair because not all bellies that can benefit from a tummy tuck have a diastasis recti. Even when the linea alba is stretched out, it can sometimes return to its normal size on its own. Furthermore, if a woman has had a cesarean section, a repair will likely have already been completed at that time.

How the muscle is repaired

Diastasis recti can be corrected by a general surgeon, but plastic surgeons routinely do this as part of their tummy tuck procedure. The surgery involves folding over the stretched tissue of the linea alba and suturing the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle together. Though you can’t see it from the outside of the body, this involves suturing up and down the whole length of the abdomen.

Why a muscle repair impacts tummy tuck recovery

The difference in recovery between a tummy tuck with muscle repair versus one without has to do with the fact that muscles contract. Unlike the skin and fatty tissue that cover the abdomen, the muscles underneath (and the rectus abdominis is a big one) are prime movers and stabilizers of the whole trunk. This means that they contract nearly any time you move your body. Even simple movements like lifting your arms when sitting upright or rolling over in bed can engage these muscles — and then there’s coughing and sneezing.

When the muscle is repaired it needs time to rest so that it can heal up. Over exerting yourself too early can compromise your results and will certainly be painful.

How a muscle repair impacts recovery

When a muscle repair is included with your tummy tuck, you will be required to be more careful and your recovery will take a bit longer — from three to four weeks longer.

Symptoms After a muscle repair patients often experience feeling more full quickly when eating and the sensation of not being able to take as deep a breath as they used to. This is due to a decrease in the amount of room inside the abdominal cavity caused by tightening the muscles. The stomach has less room to expand and the diaphragm meets more resistance as it moves down to allow you to take a breath. Both of these issues, if they occur, typically resolve within four to six weeks.

Abdominal Binder Shortly after surgery you will be given an abdominal binder to help support the repaired muscle and to reduce overall swelling. You will be given instructions on how to put it on and will be told to wear it regularly. You will probably need help putting it on and taking it off in the first few days.

Lifting restrictions After surgery, your doctor will restrict you to lifting no more than about 10-15 pounds. You will be prohibited from lifting anything heavier for a full six to eight weeks after surgery. You will also not be allowed to do any core strengthening exercises, such as sit-ups, to avoid stressing and potentially tearing the repair.

Posture It is typical of all patients after a tummy tuck to have slightly hunched over posture. This is normal and it is important not to force an upright position and put undue strain while your incision heals. This becomes even more important after a muscle repair. You may even be given a walker to get around the first week after surgery.

You still have to get out of bed Even with a muscle repair, your surgeon will require that you begin moving about within a day of your surgery. This includes getting up to go to the bathroom and with some restrictions, taking a shower. This is important for your overall health and healing and the prevention of blood clots. Many patients opt to sleep in a recliner to make these movements easier. Have someone at home to help you, especially during the first couple of weeks.

Though the muscle repair does add some challenges to your recovery, the long term benefits can far outweigh them. A study published last fall (2019), showed postpartum women who underwent a rectus abdominis repair had significant improvements in trunk function, urinary incontinence, and overall quality of life.

If you are considering a tummy tuck and want to know more about muscle repair, Dr. Slack would be pleased to offer a consultation in his office near McKinney, TX. Please contact us now to schedule your appointment.

tummy tuck muscle repair come undone

Not all tummy tucks are alike. Some involve more extensive surgery than others, and for this reason, what to expect during recovery can vary from person to person. The aim of the tummy tuck is to slim and tighten the waist for a more shapely and youthful appearance, but the surgical route to get you there (and into some cute new clothes) can vary quite a bit.

Depending on the amount of excess skin and fat to be removed, incisions can be shorter or more extensive, including the repositioning of the belly button. But one of the biggest factors to impact recovery from a tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, is whether or not a muscle repair is included.

Why the muscle sometimes needs a repair

If you have seen the abs on even one superhero you will know the muscle we are talking about. It is called the rectus abdominis and it runs vertically from your sternum to your pubic bone. It has a left and right side separated down the middle by a band of tissue called the linea alba.

The linea alba can become over stretched, usually during pregnancy but also due to extreme weight gain or a lifting injury. When this happens the two sides of the muscle move further apart, resulting in an outward bulging of the belly that doesn’t go away, even when weight (baby or otherwise) is gone. This condition is called diastasis recti.

Besides being a cosmetic issue for some people, this condition can affect posture and trunk strength. It can cause pain in the abdomen, hips, and back, as well as bowel and bladder issues, all of which can have a huge impact on quality of life.

Why the muscle sometimes doesn’t need a repair

Not all tummy tucks include a muscle repair because not all bellies that can benefit from a tummy tuck have a diastasis recti. Even when the linea alba is stretched out, it can sometimes return to its normal size on its own. Furthermore, if a woman has had a cesarean section, a repair will likely have already been completed at that time.

How the muscle is repaired

Diastasis recti can be corrected by a general surgeon, but plastic surgeons routinely do this as part of their tummy tuck procedure. The surgery involves folding over the stretched tissue of the linea alba and suturing the two sides of the rectus abdominis muscle together. Though you can’t see it from the outside of the body, this involves suturing up and down the whole length of the abdomen.

Why a muscle repair impacts tummy tuck recovery

The difference in recovery between a tummy tuck with muscle repair versus one without has to do with the fact that muscles contract. Unlike the skin and fatty tissue that cover the abdomen, the muscles underneath (and the rectus abdominis is a big one) are prime movers and stabilizers of the whole trunk. This means that they contract nearly any time you move your body. Even simple movements like lifting your arms when sitting upright or rolling over in bed can engage these muscles — and then there’s coughing and sneezing.

When the muscle is repaired it needs time to rest so that it can heal up. Over exerting yourself too early can compromise your results and will certainly be painful.

How a muscle repair impacts recovery

When a muscle repair is included with your tummy tuck, you will be required to be more careful and your recovery will take a bit longer — from three to four weeks longer.

Symptoms After a muscle repair patients often experience feeling more full quickly when eating and the sensation of not being able to take as deep a breath as they used to. This is due to a decrease in the amount of room inside the abdominal cavity caused by tightening the muscles. The stomach has less room to expand and the diaphragm meets more resistance as it moves down to allow you to take a breath. Both of these issues, if they occur, typically resolve within four to six weeks.

Abdominal Binder Shortly after surgery you will be given an abdominal binder to help support the repaired muscle and to reduce overall swelling. You will be given instructions on how to put it on and will be told to wear it regularly. You will probably need help putting it on and taking it off in the first few days.

Lifting restrictions After surgery, your doctor will restrict you to lifting no more than about 10-15 pounds. You will be prohibited from lifting anything heavier for a full six to eight weeks after surgery. You will also not be allowed to do any core strengthening exercises, such as sit-ups, to avoid stressing and potentially tearing the repair.

Posture It is typical of all patients after a tummy tuck to have slightly hunched over posture. This is normal and it is important not to force an upright position and put undue strain while your incision heals. This becomes even more important after a muscle repair. You may even be given a walker to get around the first week after surgery.

You still have to get out of bed Even with a muscle repair, your surgeon will require that you begin moving about within a day of your surgery. This includes getting up to go to the bathroom and with some restrictions, taking a shower. This is important for your overall health and healing and the prevention of blood clots. Many patients opt to sleep in a recliner to make these movements easier. Have someone at home to help you, especially during the first couple of weeks.

Though the muscle repair does add some challenges to your recovery, the long term benefits can far outweigh them. A study published last fall (2019), showed postpartum women who underwent a rectus abdominis repair had significant improvements in trunk function, urinary incontinence, and overall quality of life.

how long does it take for muscle repair to heal after tummy tuck

Tummy tuck surgery – also known as abdominoplasty – is a plastic surgery procedure that removes excess skin and fat and strengthens weakened abdominal muscles to create a firmer and smoother abdominal profile. Abdominoplasty is one of the more popular cosmetic surgeries. In 2019, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that there were more than 123,000 of these procedures in the US.

If you have had a tummy tuck – or are considering getting one, it is very important that you understand the side effects that are involved, risks of the procedure, as well as what outcome to expect. Your plastic surgeon will give you most of the information you need during the initial consultation visit, but it is your responsibility to learn as much as you can about what a tummy tuck entails. This article explores the tummy tuck recovery journey and explains the common complaint of having a hard stomach after a tummy tuck.

Overview of the tummy tuck surgery

Abdominoplasty surgery is designed to tighten up loose skin, tissues, and muscles in the belly region, particularly for patients who are not getting the desired benefit from diet and exercise. Whether you are looking to alleviate a sagging belly pooch or have a plus size tummy tuck, Dr. LaBarbera has 3 different procedure types to suit the varying needs of his patients. These include:

The incision pattern used by your surgeon during surgery will depend on the type of procedure being performed. Plastic surgeons usually keep incisions to a minimum and make sure to conceal them along the natural folds of the skin. Once the incisions are created, the surgeon will lift up and tighten the skin and underlying tissue before suturing them into place. For patients who have excess fat in the belly area, the surgeon may also use liposuction in order to achieve the desired procedure outcome. Since tummy tuck is an outpatient plastic surgery procedure, patients are allowed to go home on the same day as the surgery.

Tummy tuck recovery timeline

Immediately after the surgery, tummy tuck patients are taken into the surgeon’s recovery room for further monitoring before they are allowed to go home. It is important to have someone to drive you home and help out with basic chores while you recover from the surgery.

Abdominoplasty patients often have drainage tubes that are used to relieve excess fluid from the treatment area. These need to be emptied, and the amount of fluid drained from the wound each day should be recorded. Your mobility will be limited during the first few days. Dr. LaBarbera recommends that you take a light walk as soon as you are able to in order to improve blood flow.

Many patients experience tightness around their belly and you will have to walk while hunched over for a week or two. Your incisions will likely feel sore over the first week. You may need to lie in bed at an angle, and you likely will have problems with standing, lifting things, and general movements.

Tuck tuck patients are able to resume work after about a month, particularly if they have a physically demanding job. However, you will be able to engage in routine daily activities within 1-2 weeks. Scarring is usually a major concern for patients who have just had a tummy tuck, but fades with time. Your surgeon may also recommend scar care ointments to help improve the appearance of your surgical scars.

What causes a pulling feeling after a tummy tuck?

Abdominoplasty – just like any other surgical procedure – entails cutting into the body. This naturally leads to some nerve damage. Many abdominoplasty patients experience numbness over the lower abdominal area after tummy tuck due to the damaged nerves in the area. With time – as the nerves start to regenerate their proper pathways – the patient will start to experience gradual return of sensation.

Tummy tuck patients may also experience a tight feeling in their belly because the skin has been cut and put back together. More so, muscle tightening during the surgery can lead to a hardened tissue sensation during recovery.

Although you may feel worried about this tightness and pulling sensation, keep in mind that it is a normal part of the healing process. The majority of people who had an abdominoplasty can experience these side effects for up to 12 weeks post-op. In some cases, it takes up to 12 months for the nerves in the abdominal area to properly heal. Once the nerves regain their usual sensory function, it is highly unlikely that this kind of discomfort will return.

What is the treatment for hardened tissue after tummy tuck?

Nerve regeneration is a natural process that follows its own natural timeline. However, you may be able to quicken this process by taking part in the retraining process. Dr. LaBarbera recommends that you gently rub items of different textures across your abdomen. This may include such things as loofahs, washcloths, lotion, and cotton. The goal is to stimulate the nerves to find their proper pathways and heal much quicker. For patients with severe cases of nerve discomfort, the surgeon may recommend medications such as Neurontin. Make sure that you have explicit instructions and a prescription from your doctor before using medication to treat discomfort and a pulling sensation after abdominoplasty.

Tummy tuck recovery tips / FAQs

Now that you know what causes a hard stomach after a tummy tuck, below are some other commonly asked questions to improve your understanding of the recovery process:

When will I feel normal after abdominoplasty surgery?

Most patients feel groggy immediately after tummy tuck surgery, due to the anesthesia. There will also be post-op pain and bruising over the first 1-2 weeks. This pain can be alleviated using a medication, and the discomfort will improve each day. Over the first 2-3 weeks, you will be limited to light activities and may be able to return to a desk job. The average duration for people who have just had an abdominoplasty to feel normal again is 4-6 weeks. Keep in mind though that the precise healing duration will vary from one person to another depending on the type of tummy tuck they had, their age, the kind of post-op care they receive, and their general health.

How long will I be hunched over after tummy tuck?

You will be unable to stand up straight after a tummy tuck procedure. In fact, the surgeon will ask that you stay in a hunched over position in order to keep the treatment area intact. How long you need to stay in this position varies depending on whom you ask. Dr. LaBarbera recommends that his patients hunch over for 1-2 weeks (until they get a green light from him). Once you are allowed to straighten back up, this should be done gently and gradually until you regain your normal, upright posture.

How long will swelling last after a tummy tuck?

Swelling is a natural aspect of the body’s healing process as fluid collects around the treatment site in order to protect the healing tissues. Plastic surgeons often insert drains to drain away excess fluid and relieve pressure from your belly. These are typically removed after 10-14 days, depending on your progress. Once this is done, slight swelling may still persist for weeks or even months – obscuring the outcome of your tummy tuck. Following your surgeon’s instructions is important to ensure that post-op swelling resolves quickly and that you attain a favorable outcome from the surgery.

When will I see final results?

Following a tummy tuck surgery, the shape of your abdomen will improve gradually with recovery. Most patients are able to see a final impression of their new belly in 6 months. It takes about this long for the pink linear scar resulting from the procedure to fade. Dr. LaBarbera advises his patients to use high-quality scar care products to help quicken the fading of scars. These products should, however, only be used after the incision areas have fully healed (which can take up to a few months).


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