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.
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.