An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a procedure to remove loose or excess skin resulting from pregnancy, weight gain and poor elasticity of the skin. The procedure includes removing most of the fat and skin between your navel and public area, tightening the connective tissue in the abdominal area and repositioning your belly button. Post-surgery exercise, depending on type, can help increase blood flow for faster recovery and help you maintain a healthy weight. However, there are several factors to consider before beginning your desired exercise regimen.
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Why Exercise after Surgery
You may want to exercise to speed recovery, but maintaining an exercise regimen long after your tummy tuck helps you maintain your weight loss. It does this by toning your muscles and encouraging increased metabolic rates that help keep the weight off. In maintaining the weight loss, you’re also able to keep your new proportional figure. As such, you are encouraged to exercise post-surgery even if you did not maintain a consistent exercise regimen beforehand.
Exercise for Recovery
Certain post-surgery exercises will help promote blood flow, thus aiding in the healing process, and reduce swelling. These exercises also reduce the risk of blood clots and tone your muscles. Because you’ll have drainage tubes and sutures initially, limit your exercise to walking the first weeks after surgery. Walk only if you are able to do so comfortably, though slight discomfort is expected. Increase intensity only when you feel comfortable. However, as with all post-surgery exercises, it is vital to get approval from your physician before you start walking, as recovery rates differ.
You can typically start light to moderate activity four weeks after your surgery, but you may be able to exercise as early as two weeks post-surgery depending on recovery. This includes exercise such as walking and cycling. Try exercising on equipment such as stationary bikes and treadmills to maintain a low intensity. Also try light stretching as a means of increasing flexibility. Stretch only after your sutures are taken out; this time can vary among patients. Tightness in the abdominal region is normal and expected. Note that you should gradually increase your exercise intensity as your tolerance for low intensity exercise increases.
Strenuous Exercise and Lifting
At six to eight weeks, you’re likely out of most of your bandages, making exercise more comfortable. However, you heavy lifting is still prohibited and your exercise routine should not include exercises targeting the abdominal muscles unless approved by your physician. This is because ab exercises cause stress to the region, affecting your recovery. Other exercises should be safe at a more strenuous level, provided you increase your intensity gradually. After eight weeks, you should be able to return to all activities and exercises. Your physician may also lift your weight restriction, allowing weight-training exercises. Ask your doctor about an appropriate time line for abdominal exercises.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- MayoClinic.com: Abdomen Reduction at Mayo Clinic; Mayo Clinic Staff
- Functional Trainer: How Long After a Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Can I Resume Exercise?; Jason Hough; June 10, 2008
- Doc Shop: Maintain Your Figure after a Tummy Tuck
- Your Plastic Surgery Guide: What You Need to Know about a Tummy Tuck; Richard J. Greco, MD, FACS; Updated May 6, 2010
- Great You: Tummy Tucks
- Spence MD: Plastic Surgery Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Tummy Tuck Guide; After Tummy Tuck
- Real Self; How Much Can I Exercise after a Tummy Tuck?; Ankit Desai, MD