Quando si parla di diastasis of the abdomen – or, as it would be better, ofdiastasis of the rectus abdominis – it refers to that pathological condition that leads the two right and left abdominal rectus muscles to be excessively and unnaturally distant from each other. But what are the causes of this condition and what are the main risk factors? Can diastasis recti be prevented and how? And what is the most decisive approach once the symptoms appear? Let's try to answer.
An introduction to abdominal diastasis, a pathology that affects postpartum and beyond
On the Web it is not difficult to come across photos of patients with diastasis before and after: they shouldn't serve so much to do (dangerous) self-diagnosis, as to better understand and with a visual aid what diastasis abdominis is and how it looks. Visually it is to all intents and purposes anabdominal prominence which could easily be mistaken for simple swelling. Unlike abdominal distension due to passing digestive disorders, however, abdominal diastasis does not tend to return, even after some time. In fact, it is caused by apermanent distension of the connective tissue – otherwise known as linea alba – which is located between the two abdominal rectus lines: depending on the extent of this distension we speak of mild, moderate or severe abdominal diastasis (where even mild abdominal diastasis implies a distance greater than 2 cm between the two muscles) and depending on the point of the abdomen where the crest reaches greater dimensions, we speak of supraumbilical diastasis or subumbilical.
One of the main risk factors for the onset of abdominal diastasis is, in women, pregnancy=: since the first months of gestation, in fact , the abdomen distends to make room for the embryo sac and does so under hormonal action; generally the two rectus abdominis reunite spontaneously after childbirth but this may not happen with consequences not only for the woman's aesthetics. What is not always taken into consideration is, in fact, that post-pregnancy abdominal diastasis can lead to complications such asback pain, especially in the lumbar area,posture disorders,incontinence andproblemi nella digestione but also, in the most serious cases,hernias. Theadvanced age of the pregnant woman and thelarge size of the fetus are in turn risk factors for diastasis post pregnancy.
It must be said, of course, that abdominal diastasis is not a problem that only affects pregnant women: alsoobese andthose who practice high impact sports, such as body building above all, are subject to developing it but there are cases in the literature ofabdominal diastasis in the newborn.
As for the treatment, regardless of the aetiology of abdominal diastasis, the most common approach today issurgical. We intervene to bring the two muscle groups closer together, if possible in a minimally invasive way with a mini-abdominoplasty or laparoscopy for example. If the patient follows the specialist's instructions (rest, proper nutrition, progressive return to work and sports activities) the recovery times are short, the results are excellent and the precautions to be taken are few and simple, such as wearing apost-operative compression garment.