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Like it is for me, exercise is extremely important to many of my patients. It keeps us fit and frankly, sane. So when we are talking about plastic surgery and the recovery that a patient can expect, this question comes up a lot.
While it varies from procedure to procedure, the good news is that I really try to minimize downtime for my patients. As soon as it is safe to get back into routines, I am all for it. Bedrest is a thing of the past. In fact, I cannot think of a procedure in which a walk outside the day after surgery isn’t a good thing. Ok, maybe a calf augmentation.
Exercise After Breast Surgeries
For most breast surgeries—including breast augmentations, lifts, and reductions, patients can expect to be back to cardio by four to six weeks. In the meantime, long walks, Peloton (without getting in and out of the saddle!) and lower body workouts are encouraged. Avoid heavy lifting and more dynamic (read: bouncing) exercises. This is because we want to give enough time for the internal scar tissue to form properly for a pretty and lasting result. I also tend to hold off on submerging in a pool or the ocean until about six weeks, so that incisions are 100% healed.
Exercise After Body Sculpting
With liposuction, the biggest factor to consider is swelling. You may feel well enough to hit the gym after a week, but remember to keep your compression garments on and dial back the exercise if you notice increased swelling. You aren’t likely to impact your long-term results, but you may prolong swelling if you do too much.
Tummy tucks are a bit tougher recovery because of the core tightening that is generally performed. It is extra important after this operation to get up and walk, even the evening of surgery. This promotes circulation and prevents scary complications like blood clots.
Most patients are taking long walks a couple weeks after surgery. Since so many exercises engage the core—like an exercise bike, running, elliptical, Crossfit—we hold off on these until the six-week mark. Core strengthening exercises, like sit-ups and planks, are sometimes pushed off even further, like eight to 10 weeks, if a big muscle separation or hernia was fixed at the time of the tummy tuck.
After most face procedures, like eyelid surgery or a facelift, patients are advised to limit strenuous activity and exercise for about four weeks to prevent excess swelling and bruising. Non-invasive procedures like BOTOX® Cosmetic and fillers, have almost no downtime. Give yourself a day to minimize swelling after filler treatments.
A VERY important rule of thumb for all types of surgical recovery is if it hurts, you aren’t ready. If you have a sensation of tugging, pulling, or discomfort, ease off that movement for the time being. It is also a good idea to gradually ramp up your activity: 20 minute jog, yes; Crossfit burpee challenge, no.
Lastly, every patient is different. We will look over everything together to make sure you are sufficiently healed to resume unrestricted activity and fitness. Recovery is a process, but you will get back to it. Promise!
Ximena Pinell, MD