Most tummy tuck surgeries use two surgical techniques. First, skin removal is part of nearly every abdominoplasty because it ensures that your skin complements your new contours. Secondly, muscle repair, or muscle plication, is commonly performed during a tummy tuck. This technique provides a tighter, toned abdomen. It can repair the damage done to the body due to pregnancy, weight loss and gain, and even alleviate symptoms of some medical conditions. Dr. Ludwig Allegra of Northwest Face & Body performs the best tummy tuck with muscle plication Bellevue and Kirkland have to offer.
What Is Muscle Plication?
Muscle plication, also called muscle repair, is a surgical technique that tightens the rectus abdominis muscles. This large muscle is technically two muscles joined together by various connective tissues. The rectus abdominis, also known simply as the abdominal muscles, are responsible for the six pack of some people.
The abdominal muscles run from the sternum and down to the pelvis. Due to this, the rectus abdominis muscles play a large role in your anatomy, both cosmetic and medical.
Cosmetically, these muscles can provide the coveted six pack. When in their optimal position, they also provide a more toned look overall. This prevents the stomach from taking on a pooch appearance. Medically, the abdominal muscles help with urination, breathing, and supporting the spine. The rectus abdominis muscles also protect the internal organs.
Pregnancy, weight gain or loss, and previous abdominal surgeries can cause the muscles of the rectus abdominis to separate. While this usually is not dangerous, it can contribute to certain medical and cosmetic problems.
The medical term for the separation of the abdominal muscles is diastasis recti. The condition is fairly common, especially in women who have been pregnant. As many as 60 percent of women experience the condition following pregnancy. It is not limited to women or those who have been pregnant. Diastasis recti can affect men, women, and even children.
Diastasis recti is the term used to describe when the two segments of the abdominal muscle separate from one another. This weakens the overall structure of the abdomen and can cause a pooch appearance to the stomach. Even at a healthy body weight or with little fat, this look will often persist. This is why muscle plication is often necessary during tummy tuck surgery because without it the patient may not achieve a flat stomach.
Additionally, diastasis recti is tied to some medical conditions usually worsening symptoms. For example, the abdominal muscles can lead to pelvic floor weakness which can cause incontinence. This is especially true after giving birth. Diastasis recti can also cause back and pelvic pain, poor posture, and worsen, or in rare cases, cause hernias. The condition may also contribute to bloating and constipation.
How To Check For Diastasis Recti?
How do you know if you have diastasis recti? If you have given birth or large weight fluctuations, you have a higher chance of diastasis recti. It is important to see a certified professional who can diagnose diastasis recti like Dr. Allegra. However, you can self check to determine if you may be experiencing muscle separation.
To check for muscle plication, you will first need to lay back on the floor. Keep your knees bent comfortably. Then, place your fingertips along the middle of your stomach, about halfway between your waist and bellybutton. Use your other hand to support your head and neck. Finally, slowly lift your head and apply pressure downward against your abdomen.
If you do not have diastasis recti, you will likely feel hard, toned muscles. If your fingers sink or feel space, you may have diastasis recti. The condition is not always associated with a stomach bulge and can occur anywhere among the abdominal muscles. Therefore, it can be difficult to tell on your own.
Tummy Tuck With Muscle Plication
At Northwest Face & Body, Dr. Allegra performs muscle plication and correction of diastasis recti as part of tummy tuck procedures. While a tummy tuck does not always include muscle plication, it is part of most abdominoplasty procedures Dr. Allegra does.
If you undergo a tummy tuck with muscle plication, you will come to Northwest Face & Body’s Medicare certified surgical center. After check-in, marking, and clearance for surgery, a licensed anesthesia provider will place you under general anesthesia.
Dr. Allegra will then make an incision from hip to hip. The incision may be longer or shorter depending on your specific needs for tummy tuck surgery in Bellevue. A mini tummy tuck uses a shorter scar, while an extended tummy tuck uses a longer scar. Through this incision, he will repair the muscles and pull them tight. Dr. Allegra will then remove extra skin and tissue to accommodate for your tighter muscles.
Benefits Of Muscle Repair:
The advantages of correcting diastasis recti will vary for every patient. Some mild cases of muscle separation may experience no symptoms and not experience any cosmetic changes. These people will often have no idea they have diastasis recti. For more serious cases of diastasis recti, the benefits of muscle repair can correct uncomfortable and even painful symptoms.
While diastasis recti is not a dangerous condition, it can worsen other conditions. Therefore, some doctors may recommend muscle plication surgery (with or without a tummy tuck) to improve your quality of life.
Benefits some patients experience following a tummy tuck with muscle repair include:
- Cessation of back or pelvic pain
- Correction of hernias (in severe cases)
- Improvement of posture
- Correction of incontinence
- Flatter abdomen
The Muscle Plication Surgical Technique
The traditional surgical technique for correcting diastasis recti is to close the gap between the abdominal muscles with well placed sutures. This creates an internal “corset” of sorts that keeps your muscles together. It does prevent future separation, though it cannot completely stop it from recurring, especially if you get pregnant after surgery.
Recovery And Results
Following a tummy tuck with muscle plication, you will need to take at least one to two weeks off work. To facilitate healing, you may need to stay hunched over for a few days. When a tummy tuck includes muscle plication, this usually lengthens recovery. However, it also usually yields the best results. If diastasis recti is present, but not repaired, achieving a flat stomach likely will not be possible.
Dr. Allegra will prescribe you medications and give you a compression garment to keep you comfortable. This will also promote good results and reduce swelling. Patients often return to work after two weeks. Depending on the physicality of your job you may need to return on light duty. Exercise and other strenuous activities should not resume for at least two to three weeks. Lifting and other intense exercises will likely need to wait for four to six weeks. Attending your post-operative appointments allows Dr. Allegra to monitor your healing and clear you for work and various activities as soon as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Muscle Plication Increase Tummy Tuck Recovery Time?
Yes, although most tummy tucks include muscle plication. A skin removal or excision surgery will not take as long to recover from as a surgery that requires muscle repair. This can also be seen with breast augmentation. Implants placed over the muscle do not require as long of recovery as implants placed under the muscle.
Is It Painful?
During the surgery itself, you will feel no pain. Following surgery, you may experience some post-operative pain and tightness. Some patients also describe a pulling sensation. This is all normal. Dr. Allegra will prescribe pain medications to keep you comfortable and help manage the pain. Wearing your garment and staying in the required positions can reduce pain. After recovery, patients rarely feel pain.
Can Muscle Repair Be Done Without A Tummy Tuck?
Yes, it is possible to perform a muscle plication procedure without a tummy tuck. Occasionally, doctors will repair diastasis recti during a C-section or hernia surgery. Rarely, it is performed purely by itself. At Northwest Face & Body, our plastic surgeons perform muscle plication only as part of a tummy tuck or other plastic surgery.
Is Muscle Plication Permanent?
This depends on many factors. If you become pregnant, gain a large amount of weight, or sustain an injury, this could reverse the muscle plication procedure. The separation of muscles following a tummy tuck normally only occurs due to outside forces such as pregnancy or weight gain. If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is unlikely that you will see the muscles separate after a Kirkland tummy tuck.
Can Diastasis Recti Be Repaired Without Surgery?
In mild cases of diastasis recti, certain exercises and working with a physical therapist can repair the separation. Also, for some women who experience muscle separation after pregnancy, the muscles will naturally repair themselves. A tummy tuck is the most effective correction for diastasis recti.
The Best Tummy Tuck With Muscle Plication In Bellevue And Kirkland
Dr. Ludwig Allegra of Northwest Face & Body has performed plastic surgeries in the Bellevue and Kirkland areas for over three decades. As an accomplished and talented surgeon, Dr. Allegra knows how to achieve whatever your goals are for your abdomen. He can also accurately diagnose diastasis recti and determine if muscle plication will benefit you.
Northwest Face & Body serves the Eastside with premier plastic surgery and non-surgical procedures. Our team consists of plastic surgeons, a full nursing staff, injectors, and master estheticians. Treating a variety of cosmetic concerns, Northwest face & Body aims to provide the best plastic surgery in Bellevue and Kirkland.