How Soon After Surgery Can You Start Exercising?

Anytime that you undergo a surgical procedure, it’s important to understand that the surgery itself is a traumatic event for the body. More invasive procedures, of course, require a more specific recovery time, but no matter how invasive the procedure, it’s important to treat your body with extra care and attention during the weeks and months post-surgery.

In almost any case, the surgeon and experienced medical team will help you review postoperative care: “Postoperative care begins immediately after surgery. As part of your postoperative care, your healthcare provider should teach you about the potential side effects and complications of your procedure.” You should certainly ask about postoperative care before your surgery, but note that your doctor can, and will, revise your recovery plan based on the success of the surgery and the way your body appears to be reacting to it.”

How Soon Can You Exercise Post-Surgery?

When it comes to cosmetic surgery, rest after plastic surgery is certainly necessary for many people. For patients who are traditionally active and enjoy exercise, though, it’s far from pleasant. Many patients struggle with forced rest, especially if they seem to be feeling just fine.

So, for many patients, the ultimate question concerns just how long it actually takes before you can begin exercising once more. The psychological and physical benefits of exercise are tremendously important for those who exercise regularly. As patient Cathy asks in her question for Runner’s World:

“I started running in April 2012 . Up until a month ago I was running 2-3 miles three times a week. I have lost almost 60 lbs over the last two years and still have about 30 to go. I had surgery at end of October and was told no running for four weeks. After recovering for four weeks, I am still anxious to start running again. I also strength train regularly, in addition to running but have not done that in four weeks either. How do I start back up?”

Read on for more information about how, when, and in what way you can dive back into exercise after cosmetic surgery!

Establish A Timeline

As always, the first step when it comes to postoperative care is to discuss a treatment plan with your physician or caregiver. As Dallas plastic surgeon Dr. Paul Pin explains, even if you’re anxious to return to exercise, the consequences of beginning to soon may be grave: “Engaging in vigorous exercise too soon after surgery can result in serious and damaging complications, like inflammation and swelling, re-opening of incisions, worst post-operative scarring, and infection.”

While the timeline will be slightly different for each surgery, it’s always better to err on the side of safety. Follow your physician’s recommendations, and don’t assume that if you’re feeling better, it means you can ignore the dates you’ve established together.

Tailor Recovery to Your Surgery

Minneapolis Plastic Surgery liposuction experts explain that most cosmetic surgery procedures involve similar recovery periods, as a general rule: “Patients can carry out normal daily activities within a day or two after surgery, but should avoid strenuous activities or exercise for a full two weeks after surgery.” For liposuction patients, most wear compression garments and body-shapers for three weeks or longer after surgery, and also take advantage of massage therapy and ultrasound techniques to speed up their healing.

However, note that surgeries which involve extensive reconstruction of key muscle groups may require longer recovery periods before exercising those muscle groups. If you undergo a breast reduction, your surgeon might allow leg exercise and not allow upper-body activity for a longer period of time. Dr. Paul Pin doesn’t recommend resuming a 100% intensity workout routine until six weeks after the surgery have passed: “Start by working out your lower body, and avoid weightlifting or overhead exercises for at least six weeks. Always wear a well-supported bra while exercising, even after you’re completely healed.”

Ease Back Into A Routine

For runners used to enjoying high mileage and strenuous workouts, for example, don’t assume that you’ll be able to return to the same level of activity right away after surgery. Susan Paul, M.S., recommends that no matter your fitness level, you should begin by walking briskly for 10 to 20 minutes and assessing how you feel during and after the session: “If the exercise feels hard, it IS hard. Listen to your body and back down the intensity and duration of the exercise if it feels hard. Don’t wear yourself out, avoid feeling exhausted at any time.”

She also recommends limiting yourself to no more than 20 minutes of exercise time at the beginning, and gradually increasing the length of run intervals by 30 seconds at a time. With this type of progression, it should take six to eight weeks to return to a regular running routine.

The key in any scenario is to treat you body kindly, and with respect: It’s done a lot for you, and will be busy healing, sending blood to damaged areas, and attempting to keep you whole and healthy. There’s no need to push harder than absolutely necessary during this period of recovery, so enjoy it!

If you have questions, comments, or would like to learn more about returning to activity after plastic surgery, leave a comment in the section below, anytime! We’d be happy to help.

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