Many patients who undergo tummy tuck surgery experience a recharged motivation to exercise after their procedure — naturally, they want to maintain their amazing new look. Plus, tummy tuck surgery can make exercise easier and more comfortable, especially when performing abdominal exercises with the core muscles.
Before getting back in the gym, though, it’s important to set realistic expectations for your recovery timeline and learn what to expect during the postoperative period.
At Après Plastic Surgery, we are committed to providing an unmatched level of patient care from the initial consultation through to the recovery period and beyond.
If you are considering a tummy tuck procedure and have questions about the healing process and how to go about reintegrating a regular exercise routine, the best place to start is with a consultation at Après Plastic Surgery.
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) is a surgical procedure designed to sculpt, trim, and enhance the contour of the midsection. This is achieved via the removal of excess fat and skin. The underlying abdominal muscles, or fascia, will also be tightened.
A tummy tuck can be useful for both men and women, and it is often used as a skin removal tool after weight loss. The tummy tuck is also commonly performed in conjunction with other surgeries — such as breast augmentation, liposuction, or labiaplasty — or as part of a larger mommy makeover procedure.
n many cases, a tummy tuck is capable of producing more dramatic physical results than nearly any other cosmetic procedure offered today. This is particularly true when it is combined with liposuction and other surgeries.
With the ability to remove large amounts of hanging skin, tighten the abdominal muscles that have separated, and even reposition the belly button, a tummy tuck can truly transform a patient’s entire midsection for a smooth, taut, and sculpted physique.
Despite being a relatively common and routine procedure, it is important to remember that abdominoplasty is still a significant surgery and requires an extended period of recovery and healing.
As with any procedure, the specific details of the recovery timeline will vary from patient to patient, but here is a breakdown of the general postoperative period following a tummy tuck:
Following your tummy tuck, patients should expect to still be groggy from anesthesia and will likely sleep the majority of the day. Some pain and discomfort will likely occur, but your surgeon will prescribe medications to help with these symptoms.
You may be advised to stay in the hospital or surgical facility for the first night in order to be monitored closely, though most patients can go home on the same day. It is likely that your nurse will have you stand up and walk, assisted, to and from the bathroom several times in the first 24 hours.
Once you return home, you will still have significant swelling, along with some level of discomfort. It is important to rest as much as possible and keep up with your medications, including antibiotics.
Your mobility will still be severely restricted at this point, so it is essential that you plan to have help around the house in the first several days or weeks after your tummy tuck. This is a particularly important consideration for patients with young children.
After several days to a week, you should be able to begin some very light walking associated with regular daily routines (if cleared by your surgeon). In fact, staying active with gentle movement soon after surgery can help increase blood circulation and prevent blood clots.
You don’t want to incorporate taxing cardio exercises or weight lifting yet as these exercises can increase blood flow intensely, which can increase blood pressure. But short, slow walking may be okay.
Most patients are ready to return to light office work after about two weeks. However, spending long periods of time on your feet is not recommended. Therefore, if you have an active job, you may need more time off.
During this period, you may begin to notice an improvement in bruising and swelling, but it is still crucial to continue wearing the compression garments that were provided to you immediately after the procedure. Typically, patients at this stage are able to increase their amount of cardiovascular activity to longer periods of walking. Lifting, core workouts, running, and other exercises are still off limits at this time.
Your one-month follow-up appointment is the perfect time to discuss your fitness goals with your doctor and find out what exercise routines you may be cleared for. Remember that while it may be tempting to get right back into your old regimen, overdoing it too early can cause more harm than good and even compromise the results of your procedure.
After about 6 – 8 weeks, many patients are able to return to more significant physical activity, but it may take up to three months, or more, to feel completely comfortable in the gym again. The best thing you can do is listen to your surgeon’s advice and get his or her clearance before resuming any form of exercise.
It is difficult to discuss “normal exercise routines” and an exercise timeline after tummy tuck surgery because every patient is unique, and every surgery is unique.
Certain tummy tuck patients may only have excess skin along the abdominal wall removed, for example, and they won’t undergo abdominal muscle tightening. In this case, the patient would be able to return to a normal exercise routine sooner than someone who had their abdominal muscles tightened.
Still, walking, stationary cycling, weight lifting, or any other stress on the abdominal area would still need to wait several weeks after abdominoplasty surgery — usually around three to four weeks or more. Once a patient does return to exercise, it’s always important to start slow and to emphasize strengthening other parts of the body.
Light weight training to strengthen the arms and upper body, for example, might be suitable. Patients can also focus on working out their legs.
To help with this, many people hire a personal trainer who can work with them on targeted exercises as they recover from their abdominoplasty procedure and resume exercise. During the first part of the recovery process, a trainer can simply help promote blood circulation with light exercise (walking). Then, they can incorporate some lifting exercises for upper body strength (using light weights), as well as leg lifts.
More cardiovascular exercises can be incorporated as time goes on. Then, about five to six weeks out from surgery, patients can focus more on working their entire body and incorporating more weight training exercises that work the core. While you might not be back to your normal routine yet, you can certainly take steps to amplify your tummy tuck results (and deter weight gain).
Truly strenuous exercise should wait for several months. All plastic surgeons vary on their guidelines, but most will tell you to wait at least six weeks. Again, always follow your surgeon’s advice, and focus only on the muscle groups they allow you to. Also listen to your body.
The key is to start slowly and avoid stressing yourself unnecessarily.
Tummy tuck surgery can be a safe and effective option for many people. Ideal candidates for an abdominoplasty:
The best way to determine whether or not a tummy tuck may be right for you is to be evaluated by a qualified and board-certified plastic surgeon. Call to schedule your consultation at Après Plastic Surgery in Portland, OR today, and take the first — or final — step toward getting the body of your dreams!
Enjoy the pinnacle of cosmetic surgery expertise with board-certified Plastic Surgeon Dr. Aric Aghayan at Après Plastic Surgery. With a legacy of over 1600 successful body contouring procedures, Dr. Aghayan stands as the foremost specialist in advanced body contouring technology and treatment options. Take the next big step on your beauty journey by scheduling a comprehensive plastic surgery consultation with Dr. Aghayan today.