You go running or hit the gym every day. Fitness is a big part of your lifestyle, but no matter how much you work out or how carefully you track your diet, you just can’t shed that excess skin or fat, and your stomach muscles simply aren’t as tight as they once were. Whether due to pregnancy or significant weight loss, you’ve made the choice to undergo abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck.
It may be comforting to know that 95 percent of women who undergo a tummy tuck are extremely happy with the results, stating that the procedure and recovery were well worth it. However, if fitness is a significant part of your life, you may be wondering when you can get back to an exercise routine after undergoing abdominal surgery.
Take your time and consider your individual needs when returning to exercise
When you first hear that you need to take it easy after a tummy tuck, you may worry about gaining weight or losing your current level of fitness while you wait for your recovery to be over. It may feel like a challenge, but have faith that your body will bounce back, and with care, in the long term, you may be even fitter than you were before. Your surgeon will provide you with guidelines for recovery and when you can return to exercise, but you are your own best guide. Throughout the recovery process, pay attention to your body and how you feel as you move and regain strength and start exercising again. Keep in touch with your surgeon, and report any discomfort or problems.
Start slow and easy
When your surgeon gives you permission to begin exercising again, start slow and steady. Go easy and begin with simply getting up and walking around your home several times per day within a day or two after surgery. Doing so will help promote circulation of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body and to your surgical sites. This will not only promote healing of the affected tissues, but also will reduce the risk of clots, pneumonia, and other potential complications after surgery. It is normal to have some discomfort during the first few weeks. Only do as much as you really feel ready for, and stop and contact your surgeon if you feel more discomfort than is reasonable.
Four weeks after surgery
As a general rule, four weeks after your abdominoplasty, you may begin light, low-intensity cardiovascular exercise, keeping in mind that four weeks is simply a general guideline and you should work with your surgeon to determine the best timeline for you. Begin with walking outside on flat, even surfaces or on a treadmill with no incline. You may also be able to use a recumbent stationary bicycle, but may need to wait before trying a regular stationary bicycle due to the stress an upright, stationary bicycle may place on the stomach muscles. At this point, you may also find light stretching to be beneficial, but only if your sutures have already been removed or dissolved. It is normal for the abdominal muscles to feel tight, but if you feel any pain, unexpected pulling, or other unexpected sensations, stop and check with your surgeon before continuing your exercise routine. Over time, you strength, endurance, and flexibility should increase.
Six weeks after surgery
Most patients are able to start exercising more regularly by six weeks after surgery, increasing their cardiovascular, aerobic exercise, and adding strength training. At six weeks, you should be able to move from walking to easy jogging, using the elliptical, or adding an incline to your treadmill routine. With your surgeon’s blessing, you may be able to start weight training, but go easy and start with low weight and very few repetitions compared to your pre-surgery routine. You may feel capable of more, but don’t push it. Avoid abdominal exercises until your surgeon specifically allows you to do them, even if you feel great. Your incisions may be well healed, but the underlying muscles may still be going through the final stages of recovery and healing.
Listen to your body
Although you may want to get back to a fitness routine right away, there is no way to make healing occur faster. Your body will heal at its own rate, regardless of what you do to speed things along. Listen to your body and follow your surgeon’s instructions. If you are worried about weight gain during recovery, be sure to follow a healthy diet filled with fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins. Eating foods that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber will support your overall health, maintain a healthy weight, and promote healing.
To learn more about tummy tuck surgery, call Monarch Plastic Surgery today at (913) 663-383 for our Leawood and Lansing offices, or (816) 436-3262 for our North Kansas office. We look forward to seeing you soon.