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Logo of archplastsurgArchives of Plastic SurgeryThis ArticleFor Contributorse-Submission
Arch Plast Surg. 2012 September; 39(5): 528–533.
Published online 2012 September 12. doi:  10.5999/aps.2012.39.5.528
PMCID: PMC3474411

Thickness of Rectus Abdominis Muscle and Abdominal Subcutaneous Fat Tissue in Adult Women: Correlation with Age, Pregnancy, Laparotomy, and Body Mass Index



Rectus abdominis muscle and abdominal subcutaneous fat tissue are useful for reconstruction of the chest wall, and abdominal, vaginal, and perianal defects. Thus, preoperative evaluation of rectus abdominis muscle and abdominal subcutaneous fat tissue is important. This is a retrospective study that measured the thickness of rectus abdominis muscle and abdominal subcutaneous fat tissue using computed tomography (CT) and analyzed the correlation with the patients' age, gestational history, history of laparotomy, and body mass index (BMI).


A total of 545 adult women were studied. Rectus abdominis muscle and abdominal subcutaneous fat thicknesses were measured with abdominopelvic CT. The results were analyzed to determine if the thickness of the rectus abdominis muscle or subcutaneous fat tissue was significantly correlated with age, number of pregnancies, history of laparotomy, and BMI.


Rectus abdominis muscle thicknesses were 9.58 mm (right) and 9.73 mm (left) at the xiphoid level and 10.26 mm (right) and 10.26 mm (left) at the umbilicus level. Subcutaneous fat thicknesses were 24.31 mm (right) and 23.39 mm (left). Rectus abdominismuscle thickness decreased with age and pregnancy. History of laparotomy had a significant negative correlation with rectus abdominis muscle thickness at the xiphoid level. Abdominal subcutaneous fat thickness had no correlation with age, number of pregnancies, or history of laparotomy.


Age, gestational history, and history of laparotomy influenced rectus abdominis muscle thickness but did not influence abdominal subcutaneous fat thickness. These results are clinically valuable for planning a rectus abdominis muscle flap and safe elevation of muscle flap.

Keywords: Rectus abdominis, Age, Pregnancy, Laparotomy, Body mass index

Articles from Archives of Plastic Surgery are provided here courtesy of Korean Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons