Dr. Daniele Bollero, plastic and aesthetic surgeon, who works in Turin, has been treating diastasis recti for years. He believes that prevention «is loving yourself. Self-care also starts with prevention.»
The journey that your patients face can vary. It is important to know that this pathology is physiological and that surgery is not always necessary.
«Diastasis cannot be prevented at a strategic level —continues Dr. Bollero. — There is a predisposition due to a deficit of collagen and elastin. In this case, the fabric is softer and therefore expands faster leading to diastasis recti.» This pathology affects not only those who are predisposed, but also patients who have lost many kilos, as well as women who have given birth.
Inform the patient
During pregnancy, for example, it is advisable to wear maternity wear to contain the abdomen and not to allow muscles to enlarge too much. Moisturizers are also important because they improve skin elasticity, even if they are not directly linked to the prevention of diastasis recti. To maintain muscle tone, however, specific exercises are recommended.
You can also use products and garments that help contain or prevent diastasis recti. Years ago, gynaecologists advised against the use of abdominal binders, but later realized how important it is to support the abdominal wall.
However, this pathology is physiological, and everyone can suffer from it. It is worth remembering that a 2-cm separation is completely normal, and muscles can recover afterwards. If the distance becomes more significant, instead, different scenarios can arise.
«There are informed patients —continues Bollero— who call me as soon as they are pregnant because they know the problem.» On the contrary, other women understand that their abdomen is changing and look for information online, where they come across social groups, such as Diastasi Donna, that rise awareness on this topic. This is how they get to know the pathology.
«Finally, there are the more complicated patients —explains Bollero— who are diagnosed with diastasis recti after having an ultrasound scan. They are scared and think they have a serious illness caused by the baby. We need to reassure them explaining that there is nothing particularly serious.»
Some of these women choose not to have surgery because their quality of life is not affected. In fact, one year after giving birth, it can improve without surgery. Furthermore, if you want to have other children, it is not recommended to undergo this surgery.
Both for those who choose to do it and for those who decide against the operation, information is essential: «An informed patient —continues Bollero — is a satisfied patient.» The surgeon’s task, therefore, is to put the pieces together and illustrate all possible scenarios.
Aesthetic surgery and diastasis recti
If, however, when the patient’s diastasis recti is significant, surgery is recommended. The operation can be performed by a general surgeon, or by a plastic surgeon if some aesthetic improvement of the abdomen is also required.
«For patients who undergo this surgery, I use the hashtag #cambiogirovita [#ChangeWaistline] —continues the doctor— to emphasize how important it is to change the abdomen completely.
«This change has no expiration time because you can undergo surgery even years after pregnancy. It is worth remembering that diastasis recti has always existed, but years ago it was hidden in loose clothing rather than being diagnosed.»
Today the situation is completely different, because the pathology is better known, and women are more aware of their body. Femininity does not end with youth, and many women decide to regain possession of their bodies at all ages. Fashion has also influenced this phenomenon: nowadays we dress much more tightly, so the pear-shaped belly typical of diastasis recti is much more noticeable.
Diastasis recti is physiological, but in some cases it can become pathological. Prevention and information are essential to accompany patients throughout the journey and listen to their story.