Diastasis Recti Surgery Update – One Year Later

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Diastasis Recti Surgery Series

{If you haven’t read the Diastasis Recti Surgery Series, you can find the beginning here.)

Hello friends!

I get many emails, my dear readers, from those of you who are considering diastasis recti surgery and want to know how everything turned out with my recovery. Since it’s been over a year since I had the surgery, I think it’s time for another update.

A Little Background, if You Can Stomach It

If you haven’t read the rest of the series, I’ll fill you in on what happened in a nutshell. Having a weak core coupled with 4 pregnancies in ~6 years caused me to develop diastasis recti and two hernias, one in my belly button and one right beside my belly button.

I was having back pain and the inability to stand up straight, and my stomach looked awful. It was just a big, baggy mess. Once we knew we were finished having children, we decided to go ahead and have a general surgeon repair the diastasis. (I had tried more natural methods to repair the separation, but I couldn’t keep consistent with the exercises. Plus, the natural methods wouldn’t do anything to help my hernias.)

She opened my abdomen with a long cut from the bottom of my ribs to my panty line, inserted antimicrobial mesh underneath my abdominal muscles, and sewed them back together. She completely removed my belly button, gathered the skin together, and sewed me back up, leaving a long scar that was supposed to eventually fade into a faint silvery line.

Wellll, that didn’t exactly happen.

I formed a hematoma at the surgery site when my baby girl kicked me in the stomach a few weeks after the surgery. Poor little sweetie, she didn’t mean to! I didn’t realize what had happened at the time, and definitely didn’t realize the hematoma had become infected a week or so later.

So {grossness alert} my abdomen filled with blood and pus until my healing surgery site couldn’t take it anymore and burst open. Yeah, not kidding. What ensued was almost six months of strong antibiotics, doctor’s visits, daily cleaning and packing of the wound, and all-around hell on earth for our family for a little while. In retrospect it wasn’t too bad (I mean it definitely could have been worse) but at the time it seemed overwhelming, depressing, and very, very difficult.

Finally the infection went away and the wound closed up, allowing us to get back to life as normal.

Well, a new normal for me.

What’s it Like Now?

For once, my stomach actually works. I can stand up straight! I don’t even have any idea how long it had been since I was able to do that.

There are some limitations, however.

I don’t have complete mobility in my torso anymore. I’m kind of afraid to do a backbend; I feel like it would stretch and pull on the mesh underneath my stomach muscles. Imagine if, while you were doing an abdominal crunch, someone duct taped your skin. Now imagine trying to stretch back out. Ow! That’s really the best way I can describe how it feels to stretch my stomach out. The skin is attached/grown into the mesh, and well, mesh doesn’t stretch. At least, mine doesn’t.

Another strange thing happens when I bend over. Somehow, the mesh seems to get “caught up” in the folds of my abdomen skin, and a weird popping feeling occurs. It’s almost enough to give me the heebie jeebies. It just feels weird! I’ll be dealing with it for the rest of my life, but can I live with it? Yes, definitely. It’s just annoying, that’s all.

Now for the scar. The scar is still very visible, although it has lightened up a great deal. I’m still a little hesitant to get any sun on my stomach, because I’m not sure if the scar is ready for it. But I must note: the reason the scar is so visible and still dark is because of the damage done to my skin from the infection – it’s like a huge scar-turned-stretch mark. Most surgery scars will have no problem fading away into a very faint, silvery line. In fact, that is how the very bottom of my scar looks: you almost can’t see it.

Another thing that happened: I had the surgery when my baby was around 6 or 7 months old. My stomach skin was very stretched out with all my pregnancies, but I had not lost all my baby weight yet by the time of surgery. It turns out it might have been better to wait, aesthetically speaking.

The doctor, as I mentioned, gathered up the saggy skin and cut it out during the surgery. The only problem with that was, after the surgery, I contented to lose baby weight! So while what she gathered was better than nothing, if I had waited till all the baby weight was gone, then she could have taken out more skin. Now, there is still bagginess, but it is much less than it would have been.

I haven’t been able to get pictures of my stomach now that it has been over a year since the surgery, but as soon as I will get them, I will update the surgery photos page. πŸ™‚

Am I Glad I Had it Done?

Yes, I am. The complications from the hematoma and subsequent infections were so difficult to get through, but now that it is all said and done, I am so relieved to have gone through with it. Yes, there are some physical limitations, but these are nothing compared to the baggy, hole-y mess that my stomach once was. I’m just really glad it’s all over.

Should you have it done?

πŸ™‚ Of course, I can’t answer that for you. There are risks and benefits to weigh, and you’ll have to do that yourself. (Sorry.)Β Β But, I just want to reiterate that what happened during my recovery was uncommon and most diastasis repairs heal just fine. I certainly didn’t know it was going to happen that way when I started the series, but hey, so goes life. πŸ™‚

You can read more about my surgery and recovery, and learn some tips and tricks for a speedy recovery (ones I wish I had known from the beginning!) by downloading my ebook, Belly Lovin’: What You Can Do About Your Diastasis Recti.

Best wishes with your healing. I understand what you’re going through and all the questions and feelings you have. I’ve totally been there. <3

Love,

Dandy

8 thoughts on “Diastasis Recti Surgery Update – One Year Later”

  1. Hi, Danielle. I just read your book about your surgery. I am pretty sure that I have diastasis recti. Though I have lost a considerable amount of weight (around 30lbs, though I still have several more to go), I still look pregnant and my son is 14! It also seems that the more weight I lose, the more prominent and protruding my stomach muscles appear.

    I say all this because I really want to talk to my doctor about what to do about all of this and whether or not surgery is needed or a viable options. I’ve investigated non-surgical options and I just don’t think they are right for me. Surgery scares me, but I can’t help but imagine a life with no pain or discomfort.

    So, one of my main questions is: if surgery was a must and money/insurance wasn’t an issue, would you have gone with abdomnioplasty vs the general surgery?

    Reply
    • Hi Stacey, thanks for stopping by. πŸ™‚ Abdominoplasty is a tempting thought, but according to my surgeon, a plastic surgeon would stitch the muscles back together but not do anything to prevent it from separating all over again. I certainly didn’t want that to happen! So I would go for the general surgery for that reason alone.

      However, let me say this, I would talk to both the plastic surgeon and the general surgeon, because doctors all have different practices. Possibly there is a plastic surgeon who could insert the full mesh down your stomach muscles, so you could have a tummy tuck as well as the support and prevention that the mesh offers? I don’t know if that is something a plastic surgeon would do, but it would be worth a shot to ask! I hope that helps you. Best wishes, Dandy <3

      Reply
      • Thanks! The mesh still scares me. I hate the idea of something like that. But I will talk to my dr. Thanks for writing about your journey and your progress!

        Reply
  2. Danielle, your blog has been such a blessing to me. I have been dealing with DR for almost two years now, but didn’t really know what it was until a few months ago. I’ve sat at my computer for the last 1/2 hour reading through all of your DR posts and want to thank you for sharing so many details and pictures. Your posts really gave a realistic picture of how your surgery went. I have been working with a Plastic Surgeon and a General Surgeon on how to repair my DR. Did you work with just a General Surgeon? If so, how did you find her?

    Reply
    • Thanks for your wonderful comment, Janelle. I’m so glad my DR posts could help in some way! Yes, I just went with a general surgeon. My midwife was the one who suggested I get something done about my DR, and she was the one who referred me to my general surgeon. Our insurance would cover with the general surgeon, but not with a plastic surgeon, so that pretty much decided things for us, haha. Please let me know if you have any more questions! Blessings.

      Reply
  3. Oh goodness, I should have read more of your blog before I wrote my question. I have some of my answers already πŸ™‚ I do feel broken. I am trying to fix my eyes on the Lord but doing a poor job at it. I wish there was a solution. Even more so I wish this never happened. It is encouraging to know that I am NOT alone though. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Reply
    • Alicia, you are definitely NOT alone!! Surgery was a difficult decision but I am glad I had it and glad it’s OVER now. =) The Lord will always meet you where you are at, He understands exactly how you feel! I needed someone to tell me this before, and still do everyday, haha. I hope this series helped you in some way! <3

      Reply
  4. Hi, I tried to buy your belly lovin book but couldn’t find it on amazon. Is it still available? Also I’m the one who was curious about what supplies helped you with recovery πŸ™‚ I emailed you. Thanks!

    Reply

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