At West County Plastic Surgeons, we encourage all of our abdominoplasty patients to exercise regularly to keep their abdominal muscles toned and tight. Doing so can help maintain surgical results, provided patients do not gain excess weight. If they do, the extra weight can stretch the skin and tissues that have been repaired, possibly causing damage and new stretch marks. Regular exercise can burn calories and boost a person’s metabolism, which is why we encourage our patients to stay fit after a tummy tuck.
That said, it is important to remember that abdominoplasty is major surgery, so patients will be unable to return to their normal activity level for many weeks. The following general schedule can guide those who are interested in staying fit after a tummy tuck:
- Week One: The first week following abdominoplasty, you should focus on rest and recovery. After the second day, your only exercise should involve getting out of bed every two hours and walking with assistance for 10 to 15 minutes. By the end of the week, you should be able to engage in light activity or household chores and walk without assistance.
- Week Two: By the end of week two, you should be able to walk twice daily for 10 to 15 minutes, a habit you can form now that will help you succeed in staying fit after your tummy tuck. During this time you will also be able to attend social functions, and some patients will be cleared to return to work, as long as it does not involve heavy lifting, prolonged standing, or physical exertion of any kind.
- Weeks Three and Four: At this phase of your recovery, you can ride a stationary bicycle and begin to increase the speed and duration of your walking schedule.
- Weeks Four to Six: Most patients are beginning to feel like themselves at this phase, so we encourage them to gradually increase their physical activity, as long as they do not strain their abdominal muscles in any way. Aim to exercise at no more than 75% of normal.
- Weeks Six and Beyond: The best approach to staying fit after a tummy tuck is to establish a regular exercise routine. During this time you should try to gradually increase the intensity and variation of your workout so that you exercise different muscle groups and raise your heart rate to reap cardiovascular benefits as well. Do not perform isolated abdominal exercises (crunches, sit-ups, weight lifting) until 12 weeks from the date of surgery.
Remember that the above schedule is just an estimate. Because each patient heals at a different rate, it is important to attend each follow-up appointment and carefully heed your surgeon’s instructions and recommendations.
If you are considering abdominoplasty, it is important to consult with a licensed, board-certified plastic surgeon to ensure safe and outstanding outcomes. During your initial consultation with Dr. Terry Myckatyn and Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum, we will be happy to show you before-and-after photos of prior tummy tuck patients and answer any questions you might have about the procedure—or about strategies for staying fit after a tummy tuck. To schedule your consultation, contact our St. Louis office by phoning 314-996-8800, requesting your consultation online, or emailing us today.