Transverse rectus sheath plication in abdominoplasty

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2004 Sep 1;114(3):778-84. doi: 10.1097/01.prs.0000131023.09405.a8.


The standard abdominoplasty technique uses a wide, vertically oriented plication of the rectus sheath to narrow the waistline. This reduces the contribution of the rectus sheath to the anterior abdominal wall from more than 50 percent to 25 percent or less and creates an unnaturally flat appearance. No amount of exercise can restore the native form of the rectus sheath. For the past 3 years, the authors have performed a transverse plication of the rectus sheath, to address vertical laxity, complemented by a bilateral crescent-shaped plication of the external oblique fascia, to address waistline contour. Six consecutive patients who underwent the transverse rectus plication technique were compared with a similar group of patients who underwent vertical rectus plication. Comparison was made via preoperative and postoperative photographic analysis by two impartial judges. Although the overall result was excellent in both groups, the global score was significantly higher in the transverse plication group (4.5 versus 3.9, p = 0.044). Scores for anterior abdominal contour (4.7 versus 4.2, p = 0.029) and definition of the linea semilunaris (4.6 versus 3.7, p = 0.008) were also significantly higher for the transverse plication group. The difference for waistline contour (4.5 versus 3.8, p = 0.067), definition of the linea alba (4.4 versus 3.9, p = 0.067), and hip-waist transition (4.4 versus 3.7, p = 0.067) did not reach statistical significance. The outline of the rectus sheath is a significant portion of what is perceived as an aesthetic abdomen. Transverse plication of the rectus sheath with bilateral crescent-shaped plications of the external oblique fascia retains this native form. The result is improved anterior abdominal contour and definition of the rectus sheath with a comparable or better improvement in waistline contour and transition from the hips to the waist when compared with wide, vertical rectus plication.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Muscles / surgery*
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*