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Christopher K. Patronella, MD, FACS, FICS homepage


Exercise After Tummy Tuck Surgery 

Posted December 29, 2014 in Tummy Tuck

One of the most frequently asked questions about tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty) is regarding when it is safe to begin exercising again after the procedure. In the first week after tummy tuck surgery, Dr. Patronella recommends patients take short walks of 10 minutes, gradually increasing this to one mile, twice daily by days 10 to 14 days after the procedure. These walks play a critically important role in the recovery process because they promote blood circulation, reduce the risk of blood clots, and speed healing so that patients can return to their daily activities sooner.

Isolated abdominal exercises such as stomach crunches and sit-ups must be avoided until at least 3 months after tummy tuck surgery. Even then, these toning exercises must be introduced gradually in order to allow full healing of the abdominal muscle wall repair that is performed during the operation. This leads to one of the most rewarding benefits of tummy tuck surgery.

A common frustration women express during their consultations with Dr. Patronella is the loose abdominal skin that remains after pregnancy, despite rigorous exercise and dieting. This sagging skin, or tummy pooch, is a common result of the skin stretching during pregnancy, and, unfortunately, no amount of exercise or dieting can make it snap back firmly once it is stretched out. In most cases, surgical removal is required to achieve this goal.

Because loose skin is eliminated and fatty tissue is reduced in a True Form Tummy Tuck® procedure, patients subsequently find the results of their toning exercises to be much more evident. Being able to see the results of their hard work is enormously motivating. The combination of a sleek-toned abdomen in addition to the other health and wellness benefits of yoga, Pilates, and other forms of exercise is a tremendous confidence booster that helps Dr. Patronella’s patients to look as good as they feel inside.

Dr. Patronella has a passion for helping women regain the youthful beauty of their bodies after they’ve experienced the physical changes of pregnancy. Respected for his exceptional tummy tuck, breast surgery, and body contouring expertise, Dr. Patronella will evaluate your body’s characteristics in order to provide you with spot-on recommendations to help you look your best. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Patronella.

How to Reintroduce Exercise After a Tummy Tuck

After tummy tuck surgery, patients should be careful to follow their surgeon’s instructions to a T. Failing to observe the doctor’s instructions, especially in regard to reintroducing exercise, can lead to complications, infections, pain, poor healing, and other issues. Dr. Patronella, the creator of the True Form Tummy Tuck®, has put together the following recommendations for how the average tummy tuck patient should expect to be able to reintroduce exercise after their tummy tuck. As with any procedure, this recovery guide is exactly that—a guide—and his personal instructions to you should take all precedence.

True Form Tummy Tuck Before and After Results Side View by Dr. Patronella

Days 1 to 3 After Surgery

At this point, you will be in your initial recovery and should generally be resting. Recommended physical activity includes getting out of bed and walking (with assistance) for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 hours during normal waking hours. This is critically important as it increases circulation, speeds recovery, and reduces the risk of blood clots. Walking in a slightly stooped position is required to avoid straining the sutures. Flex and extend your feet at the ankles consistently throughout the day to activate the calf muscles and pump blood out of your legs.

Days 3 to 5 After Surgery

You can gradually introduce lighter physical activities as you feel ready to do so. Continue walking in a slightly stooped position for 4 to 7 days after surgery, progressively becoming more upright each day. Focus on improving your posture and walking without assistance for 15 to 30 minutes every 2 hours.

Days 5 to 7 After Surgery

At this point, increased mobility allows you to become more mobile. Spend approximately 30 percent of your time up and about participating in light activities, including walking, sitting, flexing the knees and hips, and performing limited household duties. You may still have a slight stoop while walking until day 7 or 8 after surgery. Other than this, no exercise is permitted, and you should continue resting as required.

Days 7 to 10 After Surgery

Walking fully upright is possible and expected, though it may feel slightly tight and uncomfortable at first.  Walking half a mile twice a day in cool temperatures is recommended.

Days 10 to 14 After Surgery

Increase walking to 1 mile twice a day in cool temperatures by days 10 to 14. If you return to work before the end of week 2, avoid physical exertion, strenuous activity, prolonged standing (2 hours or more), stooping, and lifting.

Weeks 2 to 4 After Surgery

Limit your exercise to brisk walking or riding a stationary bicycle for 45 to 60 minutes. Avoid straining or lifting. If you try to do too much too soon, you could risk injuring delicately healing tissues and setting yourself back in your recovery.

Weeks 4 to 6 After Surgery

You may now feel up to pushing harder but should be cautious to progress slowly with physical activity. With exercise, do not do more than 75 percent of what you feel capable. You may gradually increase aerobic exercises with walking, stationary bicycle, or elliptical trainer provided you avoid abdominal straining. You may use light upper body weights for toning as long as it requires minimal abdominal work. You may also introduce swimming at this time.

Weeks 6 to 12 After Surgery

This final stage of recovery can include a gradual reintroduction to progressively more strenuous physical activities until you have reached your full capacity. It is essential to increase your tolerance gradually as you reintroduce activities such as aerobics, jogging, yoga, and Pilates. Proceed with caution during weightlifting sessions, and avoid intense abdominal straining. Do not participate in isolated abdominal activities such as crunches or sit-ups for a full 12 weeks after surgery. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call Dr. Patronella for advice on how to reintroduce exercise after your procedure.

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