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Hello! My name's Adrian Richards and I am a consultant plastic and cosmetic surgeon.
So today I'm going to be talking about tummy tucks but specifically I'm going to be talking about the tummy muscles and whether you should have them repaired and also the techniques of repairing them.
So what happens to the tummy muscles after you've had children and pregnancy?
Well, the tummy muscles before pregnancy, this is called the rectus abdominis muscle which is the six pack muscle. Before pregnancy, the muscle is closed together with only a gap of less than a centimeter between it.
With pregnancy, as the abdominal wall is stretched, the muscles are pulled slightly apart. When the pregnancy has finished, the abdominal wall recovers to a certain extent but the muscles don't always go back together again. So often people will have a split in the muscles and this can either be in the top part of the tummy, the bottom part of the tummy below the tummy button or the whole way along.
How do you test for this?
Well, you test by lying on the bed and with your knees straight, lift your ankles slightly off the bed. Then you can actually feel -- this will tense your muscles up and you can feel whether there's a split, a gap between the muscles. You'll either feel a bulging between the muscles or a slight gap which your fingers will slip into between the muscles.
So what happens if your muscles have split?
Well, if your muscles have split and they're quite a long way apart, you can get lots of problems. Basically the muscles on your tummy aren't working effectively and you can get a lot of problems in your back, backache, tiredness and the strength often isn't there.
The question I'm often asked is, can you get the muscles back together by exercise?
Sometimes is the answer. Exercise certainly isn't going to do any harm, but if the muscles are really quite a long way apart, the muscles -- because they're not working effectively won't move back together with exercise alone.
So what can be done about this?
Well, your surgeon should assess your abdominal muscles if you're thinking about having a tummy tuck and they'll do this by the technique I described earlier, by lifting the ankles up with the knees straight and they'll feel for the splitting of the muscle which is called divarication.
So the technical medical term is divarication of the recti. Divarication just means moving apart. So if you have got divarication of the recti, your surgeon will probably want to repair the muscles and this is done internally; so through the same incision like a caesarean scar, all done from the inside. The surgeon will visualize the muscles, you can actually see the muscles and see how far split they are during the operation and then we tend to sew, normally with very long lasting sutures, we sew the muscles back together again. We sew them back together again where they're separated, so this might be in the upper part, lower part or all the way along.
So the muscles are nicely repaired, normally with a two layer closure so it's normally done in two layers.
After the operation, because you've had the muscles repaired, your recovery will be a bit slower and I'll talk about this in another podcast and in another video but normally, I tell patients if they've had the muscles repaired, your recovery is going to be similar to a caesarean section, anyone who's had a caesarean section will understand that because a caesarean also involves moving the muscles so it's a similar sort of recovery period.
So do you need your muscles repaired?
Well, normally if they're split, yes, if they're not split often I won't repair the muscles because it's a longer recovery period and if they don't need to be repaired, I wouldn't.
So I hope this video has been informative and if you'd like any more information about tummy tucks or muscle repair, please contact us either via our phone number which is 01844 214362 or via email at auroraclinics.co.uk . Thanks very much for listening, hope to see you soon!