Exercising After a Tummy Tuck: A Short Guide
A tummy tuck is an invasive abdominal surgery designed to remove excess fat from the abdominal area. After removing excess fat, the surgeon will also remove excess skin and tighten abdominal skin and muscle resulting in a toned abdominal region. Most doctors recommend a recovery period of anywhere from 8-12 weeks to ensure maximum recovery and strength in the abdominal area. You can go to the gym to workout but individual recovery periods vary considerably. Here is a rough guide to what you can do after your tummy tuck surgery but make sure you check with your surgeon and your doctor before you try any kind of labor-intensive procedure.
Day 1 – 3 – You can bathe and dress yourself but make sure there is someone there to help you. Avoid straining and walk in a slightly bent position for the next one week. Flex and relax your legs to ensure blood flow and to reduce clot formation.
Day 5 – 7 – Light walking and housework is permitted. No driving or exercise is possible. Pain pump and drains may be removed during this time and you can progress to an upright walking position by the end of the week.
Day 10 – 14 – Light walks of up to a mile are permitted. Driving is allowed from day 14 but with light work and no physical exertion.
Week 2 – 4 – Exercise is limited to light walking or biking for anywhere from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. Check your heart rate and keep it under 140 beats per minute to prevent bleeding. Use a heart rate monitor to ensure that you do not exert yourself. Travel is limited to one hour by bus, train or plane.
Week 4 – 6 – Most patients feel pretty good at this point and you may try to push through the pain. However, it is recommended that you do not exert yourself. Move cautiously and slowly. Increased aerobic exercise like walking, elliptical trainer work, stationary cycling, etc. are fine but you should not exert the abdominal area. Swimming is allowed. Upper body training is fine as long as the abdominal muscles are not stressed.
Week 6 – 12 – Progressively difficult workout routines may be employed. You can now start with jogging, yoga, Pilates, etc. Exercises that focus on the abdominal area like sit-ups and crunches are not recommended. Weight lifting is to be done with ultra caution and should not be started until week 12 is complete.
Abdominal exercises should not be started from week 12-18. However, mild routines like walking, cycling, and yoga can be done within 6 weeks of surgery. Remember to keep your girdle on until your doctor tells you to remove it. Make sure you check with your physician before you start any kind of abdominal routine. Please note that most surgical scars feel tight and you may feel abdominal tightness when you try to work out. This is normal but it does mean you have to slow down your workout routine to accommodate the scar.