What does a being a Soprano and surgery on the Rectus abdominus have anything to do with each other?
A lot actually.
The beautiful soprano singing the Domine Deus from Poulenc’s Gloria requires her abdominal muscles to maintain breath support for not only the sustained high notes, but phonation for all pitches; it is not all about just training the vocal folds. Singing at a professional level requires discipline in breathing, and muscle control. Muscle control you say? Yes, the abdominal muscles are needed to precisely control the negative pressure created by the diaphragm to control breathing. Inspiration and exhalation have a whole new meaning in this context 🙂
What happens if surgery is done on the rectus abdominis, or any other muscle associated with breathing?
After a muscle is surgically cut, it is instantly weaker due to the need for healing. During the healing process, an incised muscle cannot immediately be used with the same force as it had been used prior to surgery. It must first heal, and then gradually recover its strength, and coordination capabilities. These effects inevitably will be imposed on the singer’s ability to produce phonation at the same caliber as they had before. This is not to say, that the singer will be forever unable to perform, but just as all people who undergo surgery, the singer will require a recovery period, time for strengthening and a relearning of proper use and coordination of both the inspiratory and exhalatory muscles needed for singing. Sadly, it is clear to see that in this time of healing and recovery, given that there are no surgical complications, the singer will be greatly affected.
However, if you sing like I do at Karaoke, nothing will save you, but for a professional singer, it is important to work with the surgeons to minimize recovery time and even something as simple as intubation during surgery has to be carefully looked into because of possible damage to the vocal chords. Research by surgeons into better minimally invasive techniques using the latest tools and technology available ensures that there is nothing to sing about when it comes to a bad recovery.
Sing I say, sing away 🙂
Note: Special thanks to Nereida García for help with editing and use of her youtube video, be sure to check her channel out.