Many patients ask if their muscles truly need to be tightened during a tummy tuck. For most patients, the answer is yes. After pregnancy or massive weight loss, many women develop a condition known as rectus diastasis. With this condition, the midline vertical muscles that extend from the sternum and rib cage to the pubic bone, known as the rectus abdominis muscle, separate in the midline. This leaves a gap that was not present before pregnancy or weight loss. The gap is not indicative of muscle weakness, but it does lead to an abnormal bulge in the upper abdomen. As well, it can contribute to an overhanging skin apron in the lower abdomen.
Because this is not indicative of muscle weakness, performing abdominal wall exercises to strengthen the rectus muscles do not considerably improve this. The only true way to fix the abdominal bulging is to tighten these muscles by bringing them back together in the midline. As of now, this can only be accomplished with surgery, with the placement of multiple sutures to restore the overall integrity of the abdominal wall.
Obviously, removal of skin and reshaping the belly button are also integral portions of an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). For most patients, however, failure to tighten the muscles of the midline abdominal wall would lead to less than optimal results.
For additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Jejurikar via the web or via telephone at 214-827-2814.