The Safest Way to Approach Exercise After a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck, medically known as an abdominoplasty, is an invasive surgical procedure performed to remove unwanted fat around the abdomen. The procedure also removes excess skin and aims to tighten abdominal muscles.

Return to exercise gradually after a tummy tuck. (Image: vitapix/E+/GettyImages)

Consult your physician before attempting exercise after a tummy tuck, as your sutures and muscles need plenty of time to rest and recover from the surgery. The National Institutes of Health recommends avoiding vigorous exercise or heavy lifting for four weeks after a tummy tuck procedure.

Tummy Tuck Recovery

Tummy tuck recovery begins with the not-so-simple task of getting out of bed. Prop yourself up on your elbows; then slowly sit up. Carefully move your legs one at a time over the side of the bed. Sit upright for a few minutes before standing to allow your blood pressure to regulate.

While this may not seem like a difficult task, it causes your body to work your weakened muscles. Stand with your back straight, as tall as you can, on your own. Ask your caregiver to be present when you first attempt to sit up or get out of bed on your own. Get out of bed several times per day to walk around.

Take a Walk

Take short walks. Walking or moving around, even for a short amount of time, helps prevent the formation of blood clots. Start walking around your hospital room or house as soon as possible after surgery. Have a caregiver nearby to lend a hand in case you feel unsteady.

As your endurance and strength return, take longer walks around your neighborhood or on a nearby walking path.

Add Some Cardio

Light cardiovascular exercise often begins four weeks after the procedure, but be sure to follow your surgeon's specific timeline to reduce risk of complications.

Perform low-impact exercises, such as cycling, using the elliptical and brisk walking. Swimming is another option once your incision is healed.

Start Some Strengthening

Bandages are typically removed six to eight weeks after surgery, according to Dallas Plastic Surgery Institute. At this point, you can likely begin performing upper-body and leg-strengthening exercises.

Avoid doing exercises that specifically target your abdominal muscles until your muscle strength returns in other areas of the body. This will help you to avoid straining your stomach muscles.

Abs After Tummy Tuck

You are probably anxious to start working on your abs after a tummy tuck. Once your doctor has cleared you, begin strengthening your abdominal muscles with simple exercises, such as pelvic thrusts and leg slides.

As your abdominal strength improves, move on to various types of crunches, planks and leg lifts. Perform one set of 10 to 12 repetitions of each exercise. Add additional sets as strength and stamina increase.

Resume your regular exercise program when you've received clearance from your physician. Keep in mind that this may take several months.

Warning

Give yourself plenty of time to heal after a tummy tuck procedure. Failure to do so may result in severe complications, such as blood loss or clots, infections or scar tissue.

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