One of our frequently asked questions as cosmetic surgeons is “how soon after plastic surgery can I exercise?” The desire to return to a pre-surgery exercise regime as quickly as possible is understandable. Exercising makes you feel good in body and mind, it is good for your health and fitness and it can help to enhance the results achieved from your surgery.
However, it is worth sounding a few words of caution as rushing to exercise too quickly can hinder your recovery. Generally we advise against exercising in the first few days after surgery while your body is recovering and your energy levels are depleted.
It may take one or two weeks for your energy levels to return to normal as your body begins to heal itself. During this time, if you are particularly anxious to start exercising again, you can normally undertake light cardio exercise such as walking or slow cycling. The aim is to keep the heart rate low while still experiencing the psychological benefits of exercising.
As you start to feel your normal energy levels return you can slowly increase the amount of cardiovascular exercise, taking care not to overexert yourself or push your body too hard while it is still healing.
After breast surgery
If you have had breast augmentation surgery it is important not to use your pectoral muscles for the first month after surgery. This is because breast implants are generally placed underneath the major muscle groups and these need to be able to heal fully before any stress is placed on them.
You will not be able to do any form of resistance training, including push-ups, pull-ups or exercises that involve swinging a club or racket after this type of surgery.
You should also avoid certain Yoga poses and Pilates moves involving the arms. However, you should be able to do lower body exercises in the first four weeks after surgery and some core strengthening exercises, providing you are careful.
After four weeks, once you are given the go-ahead by your cosmetic surgeon you should be able to start doing some simple arm workouts followed by chest exercises. Once you are fully healed you will be able to return to your full body workout. The same sort of timescales will apply if you have had breast reduction surgery.
After a tummy tuck
Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery) is a major surgical procedure and the abdominal muscles will need to repair completely before you can begin working out again. Most types of sport and fitness routines use the core muscles, which are affected by abdominoplasty.
Four weeks after surgery you can begin light cardio exercise, building up slowly and gradually to a more intensive routine over the next four weeks.
It may be eight to 10 weeks before your abdominal muscles are strong enough to perform sit-ups, crunches or twisting movements. The more you exercise in the first few weeks after surgery the more swelling you are likely to experience around the waist and above the scar, although this won’t affect the final result.
After facial rejuvenation surgery
Facial rejuvenation surgery – facelift, brow lift, eyelid lift – increases the risk of bleeding in the tiny blood vessels below the skin if there is a rise in blood pressure. This can cause a hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin) which may require surgery.
You should avoid any exercise that increases your heart rate or blood pressure for the first four weeks after surgery.
After this time you can begin light cardiovascular exercise such as walking or slow cycling on an exercise bike, for the next two weeks before resuming more intensive fitness regimes.
If you have liposuction you will need to wear a compression garment day and night to help minimise swelling. You should avoid exercising for the first two weeks and, if you do resume exercising after this time, you will need to continue to wear the compression garment for the next two weeks.
After this you can resume more intensive exercise depending how much of your body is affected. Exercising can prolong swelling, sometimes for up to six months after surgery, although it won’t cause any harm.
Some people choose to undergo cosmetic surgery during the autumn and winter months as it can be easier to take a period of downtime in which to recover. It can be easier to hide swelling and compression garments under bulkier winter clothes and it can feel more comfortable than during the heat of summer. It is also easier to keep wounds out of direct sunlight, which helps to promote faster healing.