Diastasis recti (also known as Rectus Diastasis or abdominal separation) is a disorder defined as a separation of the rectus abdominis muscle into right and left halves. Normally, the two sides of the muscle are joined at the linea alba at the midline of the abdomem.
Diastasis of this muscle occurs principally in two populations: newborns and pregnant women.
In the newborn, the rectus abdominis is not fully developed and may not be sealed together at midline. Diastasis recti is more common in premature and African American newborns.
In pregnant or postpartum women, the defect is caused by the stretching of the rectus abdominis by the growing uterus. It is more common in multiparous women (i.e. women who have had multiple pregnancies) due to repeated episodes of stretching. When the defect occurs during pregnancy, the uterus can sometimes be seen bulging through the abdominal wall beneath the skin.
Diastasis Recti rarely corrects itself completely. Although the elasticity of the abdominal tissues will often “spring back” over a six to twelve month period after delivery, a woman’s abdomen rarely returns to its pre-pregnancy form. Absolute correction most commonly can be accomplished with an abdominoplasty.