Tightening Your Tummy With Diastasis Recti Repair (Before and After Pictures)

Thomas P. Sterry, MD

As both a plastic surgeon and (in a previous life) a personal trainer with a master’s degree in exercise physiology, I have learned quite a bit about the muscles that make up the abdominal wall. Many patients come to me and are upset that they can’t get their tummy flat again after childbirth. Some of their friends look great after having kids, and they don’t understand why they can’t get their physique back too. Some of them develop feelings of guilt or incompetence, which are completely unfair. Often, it’s not their fault, as they may have a condition called diastasis recti. Fortunately, we can usually address their concerns with a tummy tuck that includes diastasis repair.

In this blog post, I’d like to explain why some women can’t restore their pre-pregnancy bodies on their own and why exercise and diet will NOT help you overcome true diastasis recti completely. I’ll also show some diastasis repair before and after pictures so you can see what the procedure can accomplish.

What Is Diastasis Recti?

Diastasis recti is a condition that arises when the rectus abdominis muscles separate; up to two-thirds of pregnant women experience the condition. To visualize diastasis recti, imagine the vertical space between the muscles widening.

In the majority of cases, the condition treats itself in the weeks and months following childbirth. But for some, the condition doesn’t go away on its own. Women with diastasis recti often report looking pregnant even if they aren’t. Others describe a bulge or ridge protruding from the center of the abdomen.

Let me emphasize that diastasis recti is an unusual circumstance and MOST women simply develop laxity of their abdominal wall after pregnancy. While this, too, can be frustrating, it is NOT the same as diastasis recti.

diastasis recti example photographs
Patients with true diastasis recti tend to have a similar presentation as shown in these photos.

How Do You Know If You Have Diastasis Recti?

While diastasis recti is not typically painful, it can be associated with the following symptoms:

  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Occasional urinary incontinence that will require incontinence treatment.

The site Pregnancy, Birth & Baby offers additional tips for determining whether you may have diastasis recti.

Women with a real separation of the abdominal wall muscle have a very specific appearance and look very much like each other. There is almost always a profound protuberance near the umbilicus and hanging skin below that. With poor diet and lack of exercise or with many post-pregnancy tummies, the excess skin and the belly paunch are both lower and might even hang down, but they tend to be together. Not so with a diastasis recti. So, what exactly is going on here?

diastasis recti photograph
Diastasis recti presents as a large “bulge” in the abdomen when the abdominal muscles are flexed, but it is NOT a hernia.

“Diastasis recti” is a loosening of the connective tissue in the center of the abdomen called the “linea alba.” This is a fascial band (thick tissue) that connects the right and left rectus abdominus muscles (they make up the “six-pack”). It’s responsible for the visible groove that many slim people have running from the umbilicus up to the chest.

During pregnancy, prostaglandins circulate through the body and allow everything to dilate, stretch, and get loose to accommodate the growing baby. This includes the uterus, blood vessels, and yes—the abdominal wall (including the linea alba). During the first year post-pregnancy, many of these structures snap back, and the woman gets her old shape back. But this isn’t true for everybody. Some women end up with loose tummy skin, sagging breasts, larger nipples, or a widened space between their rectus abdominus muscles—and this is what we call the diastasis recti.


So, for women with diastasis recti, the abdominal muscles remain separated widely by several inches creating the appearance that they have a potbelly. In some instances, it looks more like a large hernia. In some rare cases, I have seen the small intestine wiggling around under the skin (a process called “peristalsis”) as if there were a snake below wandering through the tummy. With the right kind of muscle flexion, the belly may even stick out as if there were a hernia present.

How To Fix Diastasis Recti

The preferred way to fix diastasis recti is via a tummy tuck incision because it results in a hidden scar. The incision can be performed in a standalone abdominoplasty procedure or as part of a mommy makeover.

In an effort to be more “stealthy,” I can make an incision across the lower tummy in the bikini line. I then undermine the skin of the abdomen to expose the separated muscles and run sutures from one side across to the other like a shoelace. This creates a sort of internal corset. By repositioning the muscles back in the middle of the tummy, we effectively restore normal anatomy and eliminate the bothersome bulge. You can read more about tummy tuck procedures in this related blog post.

Diastasis Recti Repair Before and After Pictures

Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 173 View #2 View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 173 View #1 View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 173 View #3 View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 212 View #1 View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 212 View #2 View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 212 View #3 View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 263 Right Oblique View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.
Before & After Tummy Tuck Case 265 Right Side View in New York, NY
Repair of diastasis recti is typically performed during a tummy tuck. These are photos of some of Dr. Sterry's real patients before and after tummy tuck surgery and diastasis repair.

Is Diastasis Recti Surgery Covered by Insurance?

Diastasis recti is a quirky little problem to have because, although the cases can be rather severe and disfiguring, insurance companies don’t want to pay to fix them because there is no “functional problem” caused by the issue. Their argument is that the fascia (connective tissue) might be weak but remains intact across the abdominal wall, so surgery for diastasis recti is not “medically necessary.” CT scans will confirm that the patient has intact anatomy without a hernia or break in the abdominal wall structure. However, in terms of basic normal form, this situation clearly goes off the rails.

For patients with this issue, life can become very depressing. The insurance company won’t help, the CT report says you are fine, and some friends and family gently intimate that you should really go to the gym and work out a little harder. They clearly don’t understand what’s going on.

For women who are ready to address the problem, even without insurance assistance, we can provide an estimate of your specific tummy tuck cost after your consultation. We also offer financing through CareCredit so that the procedure is more easily affordable.

Why Won’t Ab Exercises for Diastasis Recti Work for Me?

As a previous personal trainer, I’m a huge believer in physical fitness and an advocate for anyone who believes in self-reliance. That said, I’m also a realist and an advocate for patients, and this problem needs surgery. There are no two ways about it. It is no different than having a bone broken completely in half so that it is not lined up properly. Unless it is put back in place, it can’t possibly heal in a straight line the way it was before.

In the case of diastasis recti, the muscles need to be put back in their proper place in order to restore normal function. If that doesn’t happen, then no matter how strong you might make them with exercise, they will remain separated from each other, and you will always have that bulge emerge between them.

Normal Abdominal Wall
A normal abdominal wall has a short, thick connection between the rectus abdominus muscles called the “linea alba”.

I have noticed recently that there are some charlatans (yes, I believe these are dishonest people) out there claiming that if you do their workout (for a fee) they will help you build up your “transversus abdominus” muscles to fix your diastasis recti. They claim to have published proof in medical journals that their techniques work. I encourage anyone to try whatever methods are available. You should ALWAYS try to avoid surgery if you can. However, if your diastasis doesn’t get better in the first 18 months after pregnancy, it’s not likely to improve on its own. Perhaps it was never a real diastasis to begin with, but just some laxity that rebounds with hormonal changes after pregnancy.

Diastasis Recti Anatomy
In diastasis recti, the connection between the rectus abdominus muscles is widened and thinned out dramatically.

How do I know this?  First, let’s start with basic ideas and then move into anatomy. When a muscle flexes, it gets shorter and pulls whatever is attached to it closer. The anterior abdominal wall (your belly) is made up of four muscles all running in different directions. Importantly, NONE  of them cross the midline or flex from one side to the other. They all run their course on either the right or the left sides of the belly. There is no connection between the right and left except for the fascia in the midline—which is what gets loose in a diastasis recti scenario. Therefore, strengthening these muscles cannot pull the two sides of the abdomen together. In fact, it might only serve to pull them farther apart.  

The second way I can prove this is by experience in the operating room. Have a look at the photo on the right of the very thin and attenuated connective tissue between the two major abdominal muscles in this patient. There is no exercise in the world that would strengthen this layer because there is no muscle in it. Have a look below:

Diastasis Recti with no muscle in the midline
In diastasis recti the connective tissue is loose and floppy. Note: There is NO MUSCLE to exercise and strengthen across the midline.

Laxity Of The Abdominal Wall: When Is It NOT Diastasis Recti?

More common than diastasis recti is a laxity of the abdominal wall after pregnancy or after major weight gain and loss. In these cases, the abdominal muscles are all intact, but the connective tissues have become lax, leaving the tummy to protrude more than it did before pregnancy. This situation is often a surgical problem, even for slender people, but it typically doesn’t have the dramatic presentation that diastasis recti does. Certainly, many of these folks will end up getting tummy tucks, and they probably look much better than they would without the surgery, but the anatomical problem is not at all the same.

If you want to address loose or bulging tummy skin, a tummy tuck may help. Call my New York office at (212) 249-4020 to schedule an appointment, or use our online form to request a consultation.

This post was updated in January 2024.

132 Responses to Tightening Your Tummy With Diastasis Recti Repair (Before and After Pictures)

  • Cairesse says:

    After the surgery, are patients able to function and exercise normally without worry of tear or separation of the muscles again? And how so?

  • Kara says:

    Hi there!!! I am so glad I came across this article! Finally someone (a doctor) who acknowledges this condition could very well be surgical! I have never been formally diagnosed by a doctor but I have no doubt I have a DR. Would it be possible for me to send you a profile view of my stomach & you could let me know if I do indeed have one? I would appreciate it more than you know!

  • Tikisa says:

    Hello Dr. Sterry,
    May I ask where you are located? I haven’t been formally diagnosed with DR, however I have been diagnosed with a ventral hernia. Is it possible to have DR and a hernia? If so, is it possible to lessen the appearance of the hernia and DR through exercise before getting surgery. Also, how long is it recommended to wait postpartum before having a tummy tuck? I had my twins 4 months ago.

    • Congratulations on the twins! That is fantastic news!
      I am located in NYC directly across from the Guggenheim Museum on 89th St and 5th Avenue.
      As for your tummy, I would encourage you to wait at least 6 months and preferably up to a year postpartum before moving forward with surgery. Do some pilates when you are able because it does help to strengthen the entire abdominal wall. Once everything is settled and you know that you have done everything possible to optimize your condition, then go ahead and have the muscles fixed.
      My one caveat here is to listen to your local doctors. If the hernia becomes a problem, you may need to have it fixed sooner. In that case, it might make sense to go ahead and fix the diastasis recti at the same time.
      Good Luck!

  • Hayley says:

    I have a dr after multiple pregancy. I workout at the gym daily and have lost a lot of weight, but I know no amount of exercise will fix a dr.
    What is the price of the surgery ?

    • As I mentioned in the blog article, you are probably best having a tummy tuck if there is a true Diastasis Recti. In my office, we do NOT have any extra charges for repair of the DR, I just consider it to be a part of the abdominoplasty procedure and would have tightened the muscles regardless of the separation. Fees vary widely around the country because of the cost of doing business and I would rather not post numbers on my blog. That said, if you call my office at (212) 249-4020, one of the ladies will be happy to give you a ball park figure.
      Good Luck!

  • Nicki says:

    Hello. I think I may have DR, but I’m not sure. It’s starting to get worse but family keeps telling me it’s just fat. Could I send you a pic please?

    • Judith says:

      Hello, I had a tummy tuck 7 months ago, I had fix DR and 2 hernias, I was very happy with the results but in less than a month one hernia open and after 3 months my aper belly wasn’t flat, I thought it was inflammation, I send pictures to my doctor and he told me I’m not supposed to look like that, now my tummy is much much better than before but I’m flat only if I flex… do you think I can fix that?

    • I would need to see photographs, but it sounds like the sutures holding things together came loose or wore through the tissues. Another operation might be in order – sorry, I really can’t say for sure.
      Good Luck!

  • Tidra says:

    I am almost positive I have DR and the doctors does not seem to know why my stomach looks like that. They say, its because of how Im shaped. Im very slender and my stomach protrudes with a very hard knot feeling in the middle. I just had a baby November 7th, I need help because Im 25 and will not walk around looking like Im 4 months pregnant. Please help.

    • Well, after such a short time I wouldn’t assume that it isn’t going to get better. As I said in the blog, it can take months for the prostaglandins to circulate around your body and begin to tighten things up. I would absolutely start some pilates and give it some time. If you still have a problem by next Summer, I’d be happy to have a look at some photos for you. That said, I would recommend NOT having an operation to fix it until at least a year after the pregnancy.
      Good Luck!

  • Tammy says:

    My OB told me I have a hernia, but at 2.5 years postpartum, it has progressed to
    look like the ones in your photos. It only bothers me physically after a good workout. Recently during a workout I had a sharp pain accompanied by a strong wave of nausea, then the next two days had persistent discomfort (pressure and mild pain) with intermittent nausea. My plan was to have another baby before getting this repaired, but can I still have a safe pregnancy with this?

    • You need to see a general surgeon about that. Your story, in the background of a known hernia, suggests that there is bowel getting stuck in the abdominal wall defect. Please see a board certified general surgeon for this as soon as possible. I’m sorry that my blog doesn’t alert me to inquiries like yours sooner. Do NOT delay, this could be very important.

  • Bekki says:

    Thank you for this blog! I struggle with what my corrective exercise therapist calls a “very severe diastasis recti”. I have been doing DR-specific exercises for three years (since my third child was born), to no avail. I’ve lost 50 lbs, but my waist size remains just about the same, and I suffer from back pain if I am on my feet for too long.
    Could I possibly send you a couple photos and get some thoughts? My exercise specialist feels that surgery will be necessary in my case. I am definitely concerned about the cost, and whether or not I should wait until I am finished with my weight loss.

  • Leslie says:

    I am so happy I ran across your website. I’ve noticed that my stomach has taken on this odd shape after the birth of my second child (six years ago) and has not gone away (even after the birth of my third child three and a half years ago). Is it possible that it is DR? I look like the picture of the lady in the red sports bra. It is possible to have this for six years? The bulge in the upper part of my abdomen isn’t painful but my vanity is getting the best of me.
    I’m located in Louisiana and would love any local recommendations if you have any.
    Thanks so much, Leslie

    • Yes, it is possible because this problem doesn’t tend to go away on its own. It really is a surgical issue and if you don’t put things back where they belong, it’s simply not going to get better.
      Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in Louisiana personally that does this type of work. That said, you can start looking by searching for Board Certified Plastic Surgeons in your area that are part of the ASPS.
      Good Luck!

  • Jennifer C says:

    I came across your site & now Im a little confused. When I was 7-10 months post partum I had my OB & also a physical therapist (who specializes in women’s health) check me & they both said I had mild to moderate disasti & my OB waved it off that it was no big deal & it would close up on its own.
    Im a relatively thin person who has some extra stomach fat to lose. Recently I suspected I still had muscle separation & had a corrective core trainer check me (2.5 yrs post partum) & she said theres a 3 finger gap in my belly button area. But I have no hanging skin, no outiebelly button, no strange bulge like in the above pictures. But my lower back is killing me as well as pelvic floor discomfort. Those are symptoms of disasti but maybe its just a weak stomach muscles? Ive always had a weak core. Im doing stretches that she gave me to work the traverse muscle to help close the gap. If she did find a gap does that definitely mean its disasti OR could it be a weak core & not disasti? Eould a weak core? Im overwhelmed if I should be treating this as a disasti & staying away from exercises that make it worse or a weak core which may not be as severe?

    • The examples I gave in the blog are fairly extreme, by design. You may not have a tummy exactly like that, but still have a muscle separation called a “diastasis recti”. The belly button hernia doesn’t necessarily follow suit either, but it many times does. As for your ability to close the gap 2.5 years later using exercise alone, well I doubt it. I tried to include the graphs to help folks understand that the transersus abdominus muscle runs horizontally from the side of the abdomen to the outer edge of the rectus abdominus muscle where it merges with the fascia of all the other abdominal muscles, but does NOT run across the middle of the abdomen. Mechanically speaking, there is no reason to imagine that strengthening that muscle on both sides is going to close the gap. In fact, it should only make it wider. With that said, I see no reason that you can’t continue to exercise – it’s just that I don’t expect you to get any better. At some point, if it bothers you enough, you can have it fixed surgically.

  • Cynthia says:

    Hi Dr. Thomas, I had a full tummy tuck to repair a significant diasis recti. I had two sets of twins and a single birth. The surgeon said he tightened the muscles as much as he could “on the table”. I am 9 weeks out from surgery and still see a “cliff”. It is much improved (as I was a bit more severe then the most severe photo you posted)…yet, not completely improved. Is there more that can be done to fix this? I am concerned that as I heal and my muscles become more lax, the diasis recti will worsen and become more pronounced,

    • Hmmmm…I’m not sure what to say because I wasn’t in the OR.
      First, you are only a few weeks out from surgery and frankly we can’t know exactly what your results will be. That said, if the muscles were brought together, then technically the diastasis is fixed. However, we sometimes tighten the fascia a little more than just to bring them together. Whether or not that holds up over the long term is debatable.
      In your case, are you suggesting that the muscles have a gap between them once again?

  • Amber says:

    I am quite positive I have a DR. I was sure after my first child but after my second (a 10 pounder) I’ll quite positive. I worry about hernia as well. Is there anyone you know on Oahu Hawaii that you could recommend? Also, have you ever heard of insurance covering the surgery if hernia is involved?

    • Gee, sorry but I don’t have any plastic surgery contacts in Hawaii. Yes, if you have a hernia, that may potentially help pay for the operating room and anesthesia, but the insurance code for the diastasis recti is different, so I doubt they will reimburse for that particular procedure.
      Good Luck!

  • Yolanda says:

    I have a DR. Would it be safe to get pregnant again, if I were to have surgery to correct it? Or, should I wait until I’m done childbearing before surgery?

    • The overwhelming likelihood is that you would be just fine with a Diastasis. If there is a hernia, you should check with your Obstetrician to be certain the anatomy is safe.

  • Lizzie says:

    I recently had a diastic recti surgery done where the muscles was fixed and mesh added to hold them together well I still have a big stomach and went somewhere else where they said I should had had a full tummy tuck.. I don’t have $11,000 for the tummy tuck.. is there anything else I can to for my stomach to get it to go back down besides a full tummy tuck?

    • If you really have a diastasis recti, the preferred method to repair it is with a tummy tuck, but it can certainly be done with a vertical incision. If you are left now with a tummy that is cosmetically not what you had hoped for, then the tummy tuck will remove the loose skin and fat to create a better outcome. More than that, I would need to see you to have any ideas…

  • Maria says:

    Dr. Sterry,
    What happens if you get pregnant again? What’s most likely to happen? Does the surgery go to waste?

    • Not so much…I now have 5 patients who have gotten pregnant after a tummy tuck and none of them have ever asked for a revision. The tummy seems to do pretty well. Having said that, we don’t exactly recommend getting pregnant either. Try to have your babies before going ahead with this operation.
      Good Luck!

  • Crystal says:

    Hi, I am looking for someone in the syravuse, NY area to help with this. I have had diastasis recti for 13 years, and developed an umbilical hernia with my last pregnancy 6 years ago. Is there anyone in my area you could recommend, I haven’t been able to find help!

  • Jessica says:

    A year ago I was via CT scan I was diagnosed with DR and an umbilical hernia. I have had 2 single births and a twin birth, all via c section. I noticed the separation while pregnant with the twins, who are now 5 1/2. I gained a large amount of weight (85 pounds) I have since lost it and then some. The gap appears to becoming worse, a year ago I started lifting weights and distance running. I have researched exercises not to do, to worsen my condition, however, nothing works. I look EXACTLY like your picture above when I lay down. When I stand I have the skin that hangs on the lower part and a belly that appears to be pregnant above the navel. Over the past few months, I have began to notice occasional pain under the right rib when using the bath room. It is a sharp quick pain, takes my breath away for a moment. I am not sure if this is related. I feel that I am at a point where I need to get this corrected. I live in South Dakota….do you have any recommendations? Also, is it possible to go in for the hernia repair and then have the DR repair? Thinking the order might make a difference on how insurance covers the expenses.

    • You are correct in that the DR repair can be performed at the same time as the hernia repair. Try to find a plastic surgeon/general surgeon team that work together often (I have a guy named Chessin that I’m very fond of).
      Good Luck!

  • Monica says:

    Thanks for posting the photos! My profile looks just like that, so I am convinced that I also have diastasis recti. I live in Cincinnati. Are there any plastic surgeons you would recommend?

  • JoAnn says:

    I know I have a four finger DR. It’s unbearable. I’ve been trying the tupler method but is so painful. I’m 10 years since my last child. What can I do! How do I go about getting a referral for surgery? I think it’s my only hope for a normal physique. I look 6 months pregnant.

    • If you are 10 years out and still having trouble, then I think it is very unlikely that you will get your flat tummy back without surgery. I’m sorry to be the one to say so, but that is the reality of the situation. Find a good plastic surgeon in your area and see what they think after a consultation.
      Good Luck!

  • Susan says:

    Dr. Sterry,
    I have see multiple plastic surgeons and am more confused as ever on if I should get the tightening with my tummy tuck. Two doctors said I definitely need it but the surgeon I chose said I could really go either way. I am very small but have lots of skin. She said I am 1 finger of abdominal recti separation. I have pics. You seem like quite an expert on the matter. Do you think you could review for me? Some stats, I am 5 foot tall, 97 pounds. At my heaviest post pregnancy I was 126.5. I lost all the weight over the last 6 months through clean eating and rigorous exercise. I spin and do AERIAL classes. I would so appreciate your opinion. I am also getting breast Aug with no loft at same time.

  • Robin says:

    Hello, Dr. I am in Iowa. I have had two mesh repairs first laproscopic, second 3 yrs ago, leaving me with a 7 inch vertical abdominal scar. I am looking at another surgery, failed mesh. I have carry a seroma on my belly and it has cause my skin to stretch . I have such a large amount of weight hanging down now. It feels like I am pregnant. I have had nothing but pain and nausea with these surgeries. I have been told insurance Won t cover a tummy tuck… but I didn’t have a hanging belly before surgery. I am a very active person , but this issue is limiting my quality of life. Any suggestions would be deeply appreciated. Thank you.

    • So sorry to read of these troubles. Health Insurance in America is a mess. I can only say that you will need to argue with these folks at every turn. It’s very frustrating – and the reason I don’t do insurance work any longer.

  • Liz says:

    Good evening,
    If one suspects a slight diastasis at 5 months postpartum, is it still possible for it to close up on its own? What are the chances? Or is it more likely that this is how things will stay? Thanks foe taking the time to respond!

  • Denise says:

    I had cesarean 4 months ago. I have a mild case of dr. When i lay on my back and try to get up i get that bulge in the center pic my stomach. However underneath that about three fingers above my csection i have a lump about the size of a stone that you can fit in your palm. now before i could push it in and it would stay until i sneezed or laughed too hard. now i cant even push it in anymore. i went to dr they gave meds for ibs but someoneelse said hernia is this the case

  • Katharine says:

    Hi, I just came across the post and I’m positive my diastasis will not close, I am interested in getting a tummy tuck to correct it both functionally and athestically as I am small and slender so the bulge makes me look around 6 months pregnant though I am only 5’4″ and around 113lbs (I am a dancer so I am physically in shape and I can actually engage my core but still have no tension on the midline). I would love to send you a picture so you can see and maybe give me some advice on how to proceed, do you have any recommendations on surgeons in Southern California? I am near San Diego but am willing to travel.

  • Patricia Tyler says:

    I just found out that I have this , I started noticing it more as I began to get older. My doctor’s never said anything about what to do to prevent this , after child birth. I have had 2 children and they both were by C section delivery. I had no idea what complications could come from this. Now I look like a camel , it isn’t right that this was caused by someone that I put my trust in .

    • Oh, I don’t think you can assign blame on anyone for a diastasis recti or for a hernia. These things happen and are a part of living in our imperfect human bodies. That said, we can certainly fix it!

  • Nikki says:

    Thank you Dr. Sterry, your words have brought me hope. I have a DR..developed after my third child was born five years ago. I am located in the DC metropolitan area. Can you recommend a surgeon here? Thank you kindly.

  • Anu says:

    Hai ..I have basic umbilical hernia..my doctor told me to do abdominal wall exercises after I ll tell u it’s need to surgery or not..so my question is umbilical hernia curable to without surgery..

    • Liana says:

      Hi there! I live in Las Vegas and about 2 years ago I believe I was checked for DR by a plastic surgeon at unlv school of medicine. I wasn’t told that I didn’t have it but that it couldn’t be fixed unless I lose weight because I apparently have internal fat which meant they would be able to pull down my stomach enough. How can I Determine I have DR and/or a hernia? And if I in fact could benefit from the surgery; would I need to lose weight first? May I send you pictures or something?

  • April says:

    Greeting Dr. Sterry. I have have 3 kids and am 2yrs postpartum with my last. I have a diastasis recti priblem that won’t reolve. I’m fit (5’6″, 120lbs) and have tried PT, gym exercises, everything! At a relaxed state i have a 3 finger split and an unnatural outy belly button. My MD has also suggested i have a harmless “fingertip umbilical hernia”. I have been searching a bit for a qualified surgeon. Luckily I live in your area! Your aricle was very helpful and inspired confidence! I have questions. Mostly cost related. My insurance likely would foot the hernia part of the bill. Any general info you can give in the cost ballpark would be helpful. Also, I have sime vertical stretch marks exactly over my belly botton (like I’m splitting down the middle, lol). The rest of my tummy skin has good stretch integrity. Does vertical incision and belly button resection leave puckering scars? Thanks so much!!!

    • I would not ever leave a vertical incision…that would defeat the purpose of the tummy tuck by ruining the aesthetic aspect of the procedure. I’d be happy to see you in consultation, why don’t you call my office? Our number is (212) 249-4020.
      I hope to meet you soon!

  • david says:

    Please dr, i have a hernia and my father is not in town to pay the cost now, but i am having so much pains, my dr as my to go for LA first and my doctor friend is asking me to go for belt corset
    Please what can i do

  • Kristina Scarborough says:

    What do you think about a 14 year old having diastasis recti. My daughter has a four finger gap. Apparently her muscles never connected when she was a child. She is super insecure about it, and wants help. I’m at a loss.

    • It would be very unusual to perform these operations on a 14 year old, unless she has some kind of congenital or developmental defect. I would have that looked at by a pediatric plastic surgeon.
      Good Luck!

  • Des says:

    Hi Dr Sterry
    I think I have DR as my tummy looks exactly like the photo you posted with some skin hanging down and a protruded tummy above it. I just had a baby November 11, 2017 and I’m 6weeks today postpartum. Do you think my abdominal muscles might close up with time or I might need to do a tummy tack before having another baby. This baby is my first child and I plan to have another baby in two years but I’m worried because I don’t know if is safe to have another baby with my abdominal muscles widely separated at this time. I’m only 25years and really don’t want to have my belly looking like this or worse with another baby.
    Please advice, thank you

    • It is definitely too soon to consider a tummy tuck. Please give your body a chance to heal and recover from the birth. I won’t even consider a tummy tuck until a woman is at least 6-8 months post partum. That said, in your situation, I would probably wait until you are done having children.
      Good Luck!

  • Katie Nelson says:

    Just wanted to say your website is great! Just had my fourth babe and knew this surgery was in my future after baby 2, but I like to look at photos for inspiration;) I’m in San Diego if you have any recommendations other than Dr. Brucker at La Jolla Zimed if for any reason I find myself in NY I’ll definitely come see you!

  • Erin says:

    I am so thankful to have read this! I could have sworn someone snapped a picture of MY tummy for this post because it looks just like those pictured! I have a friend who is a PA and she suggested I wait on corrective surgery until I am certain I am done having children. Would this be your recommendation as well? If that is the case, is there anything I can do in the mean time to reduce the appearance? Is there anything I am doing that could cause it to get worse that I should be aware of? Thanks for your insight!

    • I agree with your friend – finish having kids before you fix the diastasis recti or you risk repeating the problem. In the meantime, I would do everything possible to stay in shape and keep your abdominal wall muscles toned.
      Good Luck!

  • Carly White says:

    My stomach looks exactly like the pictures, and I know from a PT and surgeon that I have a diastasis. My baby is 17 months old. I had a hernia repair in December, but my surgeon said he didn’t like repairing diastasis with surgery. Sigh. Could you recommend anyone in Seattle area? Thank you

  • Jen says:

    Are there exercises that could worse. The diastesis? I see you recommend Pilates but a lot of what I have read suggests to avoid some exercises

    • I think you should do whatever you can non surgically, but when the time comes…IF you are someone who exercise doesn’t work for, then we can fix it with a tummy tuck

  • Mandy says:

    Greetings Dr. Thomas
    Looking at the photos in this blog post i thought I was staring at myself!
    I am in the process of being diagnosed with EDS and possibly need a revision done of my umbelica hernia. My first hernia repair was done before knowledge of the EDS. Have you been able to successfully perform the procedure on a person with EDS and if so were extra precautions taken due to the fragile tissue?

    • Clearly, anyone with a soft tissue elasticity issue is going to have a more difficult time with these procedures. I can’t say I’ve actually done a DR repair on someone with EDS…She just hasn’t walked in the door yet. However, I wouldn’t make any promises to you.
      Good Luck!

  • Lindsey says:

    What if the lina able got ripped how would you fix that? And if the belly button got pulled out from the muscle wall?

    • If the Linea Alba was “ripped” that would be called a “hernia” and the repair would depend on the size of the hole. That said, I have repaired many hernias and in fact I have a nice little niche practice for abdominal wall reconstruction along with a general surgery friend of mine.

  • Cat says:

    I think I have this. Since I had a c section with my first baby I’ve always felt a gap between my muscles, I also couldn’t seem to shake a bloated belly look. Now I’m pregnant with my second, just 7 few weeks, my stomache already feels like it has relaxed further and when I went to sit up a few days ago I noticed a bulge that runs the centre of my abdomen.
    I’m concerned what this means now I’m pregnant, will my stomache look like a normal pregnant stomache or on top of that i’ll have a bulge where my internals are getting poked out in the middle?
    Are there any dangers having this and being pregnant?
    Also i’m keen to get this sorted after this pregnancy but already have a c section scar below the bikini line, can the scar be in the same place? so i don’t have to another scar?
    How long are the scars?

    • Don’t worry, a diastasis recti is not a threat to you or your baby. It just stinks!
      Yes, the scar would probably be at about the same height as your current C-section scar, but it is much longer running from hip to hip.
      Good Luck!

  • Maggie Chio says:

    I have DR and a umbilical hernia. I had my baby 6 months ago, and I just feel overwhelmed on whether or not I need surgery. I have no pain, the hernia can be pushed back into my Belly, it goes away when I lay down. My stomach looks just those pictures on your site. If I don’t get surgery is there any problems that I need to be concerned about? Especially with the hernia? Just wanting some feedback from a professional. Thank you.

    • You are asking about two separate issues – that many times come together and can cause confusion.
      The diastasic recti may very well resolve during the next year or so. If you are a pro-active person, you may want to take on some pilates classes and whatnot in an effort to strengthen your core. This can only be a good thing – but if your DR gets better, it will be from your hormones and prostaglandins, not from the exercise. The DR is NOT dangerous, but we don’t like the way it looks.
      The hernia, on the other hand, really should be fixed at some point because it puts you at risk of an abdominal catastrophe. It’s a small risk, but it certainly could happen.

  • Yelena says:

    Hello doctor. After reading your article I think I might have the DR problem. I have 4 kids that I love . One after another thought. And after my second child I did get my stomach stretched out a lot. After having my third and forth, it has never been the same. My youngest is almost 4 years old. And I look like I’m about 6 months pregnant. I’ve lost about 20 pounds. Still nothing changed. Extra skin and bulged shaped stomach. I also get very sharp pains ones in a while in my lower abdomen area (both sides) after I get up from sitting, laying, during intimacy or trying to pick something up. Not sure if that’s related. I work out about 3-4 days a week. Lots of waking, not sure what else I ask do. I also eat as healthy as I can. I prepare all our food at home from scratch. Any idea would be much appreciated!!!

    • Well, you have a quite a lot going on and I’m not sure that it can all be attributed to a diastasis recti problem. That said, some of the symptoms you describe will certainly be helped with a tummy tuck and repair of the abdominal wall. Find a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in your area and speak with him or her about it.
      Good Luck!

  • Cheryl G. says:

    Hello, I recently had a CT scan when I was sick with a virus to rule out a blockage due to having 5 c-sections. In the process they discovered I have Diastasis Recti and a hernia. I have been excercising for years and wondered why I can’t get into the shape I desire. I have also been experiencing lower back pain, which is one of the symptoms. What are the chances that insurance would cover surgical repair of both the Diastasis Recti and the hernia repair?

    • They should pay for the hernia, and you can always have the DR fixed at the same time, but the approach is the issue. Nobody wants a long incision from the chest down to the pelvis, but that is what would be required in a “standard” repair – which is why we typically do this case during an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck).
      Good Luck Cheryl!

  • Cheryl says:

    I recently had a CT scan that determined I have Diastasic Recti and a hernia. I have been experiencing lower back pain and a couple other symptoms. What are the chances of insurance covering the DR and hernia repair surgery? Thank you.

    • Unfortunately, I have NEVER had an insurance company agree to pay for a DR repair. There isn’t even an insurance (CPT) code for it. I’m sorry to bring bad news, but you can always try!
      Good Luck!

  • Kenya Johnson says:

    Hi Dr.,
    Its been about 3yrs with DR and i’m looking to have maybe a mommy make over done. Living with DR has been emotional hell!!!! Ive been sent for so many test and CTs its ridiculous.
    how much is the procedure?
    is a mommy makeover different than just the tuck?
    Here’s a major question: What about getting pregnant (down the line) after the procedure…. is that a big no no?

    • A Mommy Makeover is not exactly an operation – it’s more like a combination of procedures including a tummy tuck and some kind of breast work. Sometimes it’s a breast lift, sometimes an augmentation, sometimes both.
      The reason we like pregnancies to be done before a tummy tuck is purely pragmatic. We don’t want you to stretch everything out again after we got you all snugged up! That said, I have had 5 women get pregnant after their tummy tucks and NOT ONE of them has asked me for a revision. They have all done pretty well. I know it’s not exactly a scientific study, but so far, my folks are doing fine.
      Good Luck!

  • Jaclyn says:

    Hi Dr. Sterry! I am coming to see you in 1.5 weeks! I have the peristalisis that you mention. I have had 3 pregnancies and 1 was 10.6 lbs! Look forward to seeing you!

  • Melissa Lewis says:

    Dr Sterry,
    The patience, kindness and generosity of your online replies is noteworthy, just in and of itself. You are a rare and wonderful example in this day and age of old school values and consideration.
    Thank you for the webite information which is extremely helpful too. If you happen to have a recommendation for a physician in the Chicago area, I would be grateful. I appreciate it either way – blessings to you –

    • Oh my! That’s so nice of you to say!
      Unfortunately, other than just a few friends who I trust around the country, the people I know best are right here in Manhattan. Sorry, but I really don’t have a recommendation for Chicago.
      Good Luck!

  • Jacqui B says:

    Hi Dr. Sterry,
    I’ve begun the process of consultations for my DR and hernia, but I was wondering if you had any recommendations in the Philadelphia area. I’ve met with some great doctors that I feel comfortable with, but getting another plastic surgeon’s recommendation always adds another level of comfort and confidence. I can’t wait to get my surgery and live my life actively again, even though I am a bit nervous about the procedure. The three plastic surgeons I’ve consulted with have all commented that my DR is in the top 10 most severe that they’ve seen. Go big or go home, right?
    Thank you for such a detailed post, including the video, and for personally replying to all of the comments (I’ve read through each one!). I’m 9 months PP with my second and not planning for any more, so I’m looking to have my surgery this fall or winter.
    Thank you in advance if you have any recommendations!

    • sorry for the late reply. I don’t know anyone in Philly, but I’m sure you can find a good doctor to help you out. Today, it’s all about scar placement and belly button shape.
      Good Luck!

  • Ericka says:

    I’m a 46 year old mother of twins that are now 22. I know for a fact I have DR. I have spent 23 years in anguish and have been hiding myself away and not be able to enjoy my life because of how I look. I live on the beach and wont even by a bathing suit. Looking pregnant with twins at my age has left me feeling defeated. I live in SC. Any recommendations for my location would be appreciated.

  • Kim says:

    I am 5 years postpartum and I have DR. Do you recommend or know of any Dr in the Middle Georgia area to fix it??

  • Amber LaBatt says:

    Thank you for this!!Stumbled across this article as I have been pretty positive I have DR although I haven’t been diagnosed by a doctor. My stomach looks like the pictures above! I am 4 month pp and have been doing pelvic floor exercises as well as walking as much as possible. My low back pain seems to be getting worse though or at least it’s not lightening up 🙁 I like the idea of waiting for surgery and doing all you can do physically but was wondering if you had a Dr you would recommend in the DC area that I could go to for a diagnosis. Thank you so much!

    • unfortunately, no I don’t really have any friends in that area, but a diagnosis is not really going to help you at this point anyway. As I mentioned, you sorta need a year or 18 months to allow your body to recover. You might be very pleasantly surprised at the miracle all those prostaglandins and hormones can achieve on their own. And of course, keep working the various exercises – they certainly cannot hurt!
      Good Luck!

  • Yalonda Rosenberg says:

    I definitely have DR and it’s amazing to me that doctors don’t talk about it more and that trainers don’t know more about it or if at all! I’m so tired of having to explain why I can’t do certain exercises and them looking at me like I’m just lazy or unwilling. This article was a very good explanation…thank you so much! I am in the Orlando, Fl area, is there someone in particular that you know or recommend? There are so many here!

  • Sarah Brunell says:

    I have had 4 pregnancies and am very fit even after the 4th. I have DR and it’s an extremely wide separation (4 fingers). I have tried 2 PT doctors and about a year of PT treatment with no results. I’m currently seeking a surgeon in the Boston area to fix me surgically. Do you have a recommended surgeon or practice in the Boston area?

    • I’m sorry, but I really don’t know anyone in that area – as much as I love Boston. That said, any Board Certified Plastic Surgeon should be able to fix this problem for you. The point I was trying to make with this blog is that this is a surgical problem and not a matter of fitness. The physical therapy is nice, but with a true separation, I don’t see any way that exercise is going to help.
      Good Luck!

  • Alma says:

    Hello I just had my first baby about a month ago. I’m pretty sure I have diastasis recti but I’m more concerned of the peristaltic movements in my stomach. They’re very visible right around my belly button. Is this due to the diastasis recti? I have never had this before being pregnant and to be honest I googled this symptom up and I completely freaked out.

  • chris says:

    I know two women who had mesh failures. A plastic surgeon near me in NJ says he does not use mesh at all. he uses progressive tension sutures? Can I ask what you use? I live in north jersey so you are not crazy far from me. Thank you. God bless

  • Lalaine Cruz says:

    I beileve I have DR. I had quadruplets 19 urars ago and never noticed before, but two years ago I noticed that my abdomen had started to round out and just like the pictures upon laying down I noticed the elongated bugle. I have currently lost weight and have noticed it even more. I’ve gone down two dress sizes but have not been able to get rid of roundness, “pregnant looking” abdomen.
    Do you have any recommendations around Pensacola, FL area.
    Would be greatly appreciated.

    • The panhandle is a beautiful area, but I’m sorry, but I don’t know anyone around there. I hope this turns out well for you, and of course, I’m happy to see you myself if you care to take a trip up north.
      Good Luck!

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