How soon can I exercise after plastic surgery?

Breast Augmentation / Breast Reduction / Tummy Tucks / Breast Lift / Post Pregnancy Surgery / Surgical Tips

9 May 2024


“How soon can I start exercising again?” is one of the most common questions that we hear from our surgical patients! While we love that our patients are committed to their active lifetsyles and often hope to get back in the gym as soon as possible, it is extremely important to give your body enough time to properly heal after a major procedure.

Read on for our top 5 tips for introducing exercise back into your routine post-surgery.

Tip #1: Listen to the advice of our nurse and follow your post-op instructions diligently

The golden rule to speeding up your recovery is to follow your post-op instructions diligently. While this article provides a general guide for resuming your workout regime after surgery, it is important to remember that every patient recovers at a different rate and our nursing team is available to offer you advice to suit your individual circumstances.

When can I exercise following my breast procedure?

Patients who have undergone a breast augmentation, breast reduction or breast lift may resume gentle lower body exercise (ie. walking) 2-3 weeks following the procedure. Upper body or high intensity exercises that impact the breasts (such as running, pump classes or upper body weights) should be avoided until the wounds are fully healed and you have been given the all clear by our nurse or Dr Moncrieff, which is around 12 weeks for most women.

When can I exercise following my tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck or a combined procedure generally requires a longer recovery time, as the abdomen muscles play a role in every body movement. While walking and light stretching may be resumed after 4-5 weeks (before that it is more of a light shuffle around the house), it is important to work with Dr Moncrieff and our nursing team to ensure further exercises are phased into your regimen gradually and carefully.

At 12 weeks post-op, most surgical patients will be given the go ahead to resume unrestricted physical activity.

Tip #2: Start slowly and listen to your body

Once you have been given the green light by our nurse to return to exercise, the most important thing you can do is listen to your body and immediately stop any activity that causes pain or discomfort. We know it can feel frustrating to struggle with a particular exercise or movement that was easy before your procedure, but rest assured that with patience and persistence you will regain your pre-surgery strength and endurance!

Vigorous or strenuous exercise too soon following your surgery can be harmful to your body’s healing process and have a negative impact on the final result of your procedure. Working out too hard too soon can result in unnecessary complications such as bruising, swelling, fluid build-up, wound separation and chance of infection as a result.

If you are wondering whether you are ready to attempt a specific exercise or activity post-surgery, give us a call and our nurse will assess your current state and determine if the exercise is appropriate.

Tip #3: Wear a supportive garment

It is very important for women following breast surgery to wear a good quality, supportive sports bra during exercise. This is because all breasts, regardless of surgery, are subject to gravity. Patients who have undergone a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) or post-weight loss procedure may be advised to wear a specialised compression garment during physical activity, but this will be determined by Dr Moncrieff and our nurse.

Tip #4: Incorporate more rest days than usual

Rest days are an essential component of any exercise regime, but are especially important following your surgery. You should schedule more “off-days” between workouts than you would have before your surgery to ensure your body has enough time to relax and recover from your activity. As your body heals and your endurance returns, you will be able to slowly cut down your amount of rest days to reflect your pre-surgery fitness routine.

Tip #5: Consider physiotherapy to help get you back on your feet

Physiotherapy both pre and post-surgery can be an invaluable tool to help speed up your recovery process, especially if you are undergoing a larger procedure such as a tummy tuck. Rehabilitation techniques such a stretching and strengthening exercises can help to teach your muscles how to work correctly following your surgery, and in turn help you to return to work, gardening, exercise or sport in a timely manner.

Next Gen Physio

We are very happy to refer our local patients to Next Gen Physio located in Kotara. The team at Next Gen Physio are experienced in treating surgical patients and are passionate about providing you an optimal recovery experience. They can provide a thorough health assessment and prescribe you an individualised exercise treatment plan to help get you back on your feet.

What about movement in the days following surgery?

We recommend very gentle movement from the day after your surgery, subject to drains etc. These should be done with the assistance of a support person, or a nurse if you are in hospital. This may be as simple as getting out of the bed and walking around your room at regular points during the day or some leg stretches like those recommended on airplane journeys. These help to avoid issues with blood clotting and soreness from being in the same position for too long. Do not think of this as exercise – it is gentle and assisted so won’t burn calories or get your pump on!

Other blogs you might find useful during recovery:

This patient FAQ blog answers many questions our post operative patients ask and links to a number of detailed articles about other post operative care topics. Click here.

Want to find out more?

Our team is on hand to give you advice on returning to exercise to suit your individual needs. To speak to our nurse, give us a call on 4920 7700 or fill out the contact form below and we will be in touch!

Dr Nicholas Moncrieff

Blog Author:

Dr Nicholas Moncrieff, Cosmetic Plastic Surgeon

About Dr Moncrieff

Dr Moncrieff focuses exclusively on breast reductions, breast lifts, breast augmentation, tummy tucks and body lifts.

He is one of only a handful of Plastic Surgeons across Australia with this sole breast and body focus.

Dr Moncrieff has performed thousands of surgical procedures over more than three decades in medicine. Over 20,000 of these procedures have been in Newcastle.

More information about Dr Moncrieff is available here.

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