Diastasis Recti – The Abdominal Gap
By Dr. Vipatsorn Shutchaidat
Do you ever feel concerned that after pregnancy, you may not be able to get back in shape, lose weight, or feel strong again? Are you worried about your “mummy tummy” after giving birth and feel embarrassed to discuss it with anyone? So, let me assure you that you are not alone. The body goes through a remarkable transformation during pregnancy. The most common postpartum problem mothers face is the separation of the abdominal muscles, a condition known as diastasis recti.
What is Diastasis Recti?
To understand what Diastasis Recti is, let’s consider the words themselves. The term “Diastasis” means separation, and Diastasis Recti Abdominis is a separation of the Rectus Abdominis muscle (or the outermost muscles of your stomach, aka the 6-pack abs). The linea alba is a tendinous central fibrous tissue connecting the two parts of the rectus abdominis muscle. It extends from the xiphoid process (base of the sternum) to the symphysis pubis (groin area). Ultimately, this structured network of connective tissues and muscles is vital in maintaining the stability of the abdominal wall. The abdominal muscles have many essential functions within the body, including postural support, movement, breathing, and protection of the internal organs. Therefore, Diastasis Recti may cause protruding belly, back pain and poor posture.
This is a common condition that affects many women during pregnancy and may regress spontaneously after childbirth in most women. Studies have shown that up to 60% of women may experience diastasis recti during pregnancy or post-partum. Various degrees of the abdominal separation may occur along the entire length of the linea alba. It is often associated with a negative body image, musculoskeletal pain, and occasionally urogynaecological symptoms.
Diastasis recti can also occur in men! What causes diastasis recti in men (and women who have not given birth) is pretty similar to the causes of diastasis during pregnancy – pressure within the abdomen. The increased intra-abdominal pressure may be due to bodybuilding and weightlifting, rapid weight changes, obesity, and genetic history of diastasis.
How to tell if you have Diastasis Recti?
Diastasis recti is a palpable midline gap of more than 2.5cm (roughly equal to two fingertips) or any visible bulging on exertion. A gap of 4 – 5 fingertips is considered severe diastasis recti!
For those that are worried that they have Diastasis Recti, you can check by following these steps:
- Lie flat on the back with your knees bent at 90-degree angles and your feet flat on the ground.
- Tuck the chin towards the chest and lift your head off the floor, contracting your abdominal muscles.
- Can you feel a gap of two-finger widths or more? Or do you notice a bulge in your midline between the rectus abdominis muscles when you lift your head while lying down? If so, you are likely to have a moderate case of diastasis recti.
Is surgery the only solution?
In some cases where diastasis recti are considered moderate to severe, surgery may be needed to repair the damage.
Diastasis recti surgery is similar to a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) since it involves surgically bringing the separated muscles back together. However, this approach may seem extreme with a long recovery time.
What other ways can it be treated?
Targeted exercise therapy with certified trainers or Pilates may help to train the stabilizer muscle to prevent overstretch of rectus abdominis muscle and strengthen the deep core muscles, such as transverse abdominous and pelvic floor muscles. However, it can be challenging to rebuild your core strength with just exercise alone. Traditional exercises can worsen your conditions – avoid standard crunches, sit-ups, push-ups and planks! If your midline is not strong, these exercises can reverse any healing.
Meet Emsculpt Neo
Emsculpt Neo is the first US FDA-cleared procedure that eliminates fat cells non-invasively, by combining specially designed radio frequency (RF) and HIFEM+ (high-intensity focused electromagnetic waves) into a single therapy. Combining these two technologies, Emsculpt Neo can burn fat and build muscles simultaneously. The device is backed by seven clinical studies to show its safety and efficacy.
So, how does Emsculpt Neo work? RF energy heats the muscle raising the temperature to 40-43 degrees Celsius. This prepares the muscles for the contractions, just like a warm-up before exercising. In less than 4 minutes, the temperature in subcutaneous fat reaches levels that cause apoptosis, i.e. fat cells are permanently damaged and slowly removed from the body. Clinical studies showed that Emsculpt Neo can reduce an average of up to 30% in subcutaneous fat and 14% in visceral fat.
Simultaneously, HIFEM+ is emitted causing 24,000 supramaximal contractions of the muscles in the targeted treatment area in 30 minutes. Supramaximal contractions mean that the muscles are contracting at a super-charged rate which the body cannot achieve through normal exercise. Clinical studies have shown that Emsculpt Neo can increase an average of 25% of muscle volume.
A study by the Chicago Cosmetic Surgery & Dermatology on the safety and efficacy of HIFEM technology found that HIFEN can reduce diastasis recti by 19.2% in most subjects after the treatment, showing that HIFEM is effective in building muscles and treating diastasis recti.
These findings illustrate the ability of Emsculpt Neo to effectively repair Diastasis Recti, reduce subcutaneous and visceral fat, and build muscle for a stronger and more toned CORE! Fall in love with taking care of your body again.
For additional information about the Diastasis Recti condition and how Emsculpt Neo can help, don’t hesitate to contact us to schedule a consultation with Dr. Pat!