An abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a procedure that reduces and removes unwanted fat and skin in the abdominal area. It also tightens the abdominal muscles when necessary. Getting a tummy tuck is an exciting process, but what should you expect post-op? After the surgery and throughout the first few weeks of recovery, you will likely see a tremendous difference in your body and will probably be excited to resume your regular activities and workouts. But, before you jump on the treadmill or pick up a kettlebell and start lifting, it is important to follow these six steps to working out after a tummy tuck.
For more information about tummy tucks, download our FREE Comprehensive Guide to Tummy Tucks here!
1. Listen to Your Doctor
Before you do ANY physical activity, talk to your doctor about what you should expect from exercise after an abdominoplasty surgery and how long you should wait to get started after your procedure. Your surgeon’s response will depend upon your condition prior to surgery, your personal surgical experience and how your body is recovering. If you were a marathon runner before your procedure, you will most likely return to your active lifestyle more quickly than someone who spent more time on the couch. The doctors at Belcara Health will recommend an exercise schedule that aligns with your fitness level and recovery needs. The physical demands of your job will also influence your surgeon’s advice on when you should return to work; those with sedentary jobs usually return to work more quickly than those with jobs that require vigorous physical exertion.
2. Sit Up and Get Up
Immediately following a tummy tuck procedure, even the most physically fit people may need support with seemingly simple tasks like sitting up and down. It is important to move around a bit in the first 24 hours following your abdominoplasty surgery to help promote blood circulation. But, make sure to have someone present when you first begin, because you may be unsteady. Walking after tummy tuck surgery is important; each day following your procedure, you should walk a little bit longer and a bit farther, to increase your strength and facilitate healing.
3.Perform Light Cardiovascular Activity Soon After Surgery
Should your tummy tuck require tightening the abdominal muscles, as in most cases, it usually takes about 2 weeks before you will be able to begin light cardiovascular exercise. Again, it is important to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise after plastic surgery. Once you receive approval, you can begin with light exercise activities that raise your heart rate without directly engaging your abdominal or core muscles, such as walking, elliptical or stationary cycling. If your tummy tuck is “skin-only,” meaning only the skin is excised and tightened but no tightening of the muscles is necessary, then recovery is quicker and you will be able to return to pre–surgery exercise levels sooner.
4. Strengthen Your Upper Body and Legs, but Avoid Your Abdominals
Once you are comfortable with light cardiovascular activity, most patients can begin performing light weight lifting activities about 3 weeks after a tummy tuck procedure. These should be exercises that strengthen your arms, chest, shoulders, and legs – in addition to light cardio activities. Again, it is important to avoid heavy weight lifting during this time. You will want to avoid pull ups, power lifting, planking, sit-ups or other abdominal or lifting exercises. (Who doesn’t love an excuse to avoid burpees?) This is a time when having a personal trainer is crucial to your recovery. They can provide you with targeted exercises that do not put undue stress on the abdominals, ensuring your tummy tuck recovery timeline remains as short as possible.
5. Start Working Out Those Abs
After about 5-6 weeks following your tummy tuck procedure, and once your surgeon has given you approval, you can gradually start to expand your exercise program, including pilates and yoga. Again, a personal trainer is an invaluable resource during this time. They can coach you on form, duration, and even progression of exercises as you regain strength in your abdominal muscles. You should still avoid any heavy weight lifting or exercises that target the abdominal muscles until your physician permits it. This is because ab toning exercises after a tummy tuck only lead to stress in the region, which can adversely affect your recovery.
6. Resume Your Normal Workout Routine
Congratulations! At around 7-10 weeks after your tummy tuck procedure, you should be cleared to ease into your normal exercise routine. You can begin doing crunches, sit ups, and planks, as long as you progressively increase your repetitions. We recommend focusing on performing these exercises with impeccable form. Be sure to pay attention to your body as you resume your routine. Start slow, set reasonable goals, trust your body, and listen to what it needs.
Every patient is unique and every recovery process is personal; your recovery will not be the same as your sister’s or your friend’s. Your genetic makeup, pre-surgery fitness level, nutrition habits, environment, and support structure all play a part in your recovery time – and your surgeon’s advice takes these and many other factors into account. In order to achieve the results you desire, it is critical to follow your surgeon’s recovery instructions for care after a tummy tuck with precision. Trying to skip recovery steps or pushing through the recovery process too hard not only yields frustration, it can undo the results you have already achieved.
Is a Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty Procedure Right for You?
A tummy tuck procedure is a big decision, but can also be life changing. At Belcara Health, we want you to be as comfortable as possible and excited about your decision, which is why we offer a private in-person consultation with your doctor, as well as, virtual consultations to address any concerns you may have prior to surgery. Schedule your private consultation today by contacting us online or calling 410-296-0414.
If you’re not ready to talk to someone yet, you can learn more about our tummy tuck procedures here, view before and after photos, or download the comprehensive guide to tummy tuck procedures below.