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Exercising After Liposuction: What to Expect + FAQ’s

Written by Ramya Kollipara, MD, Board Certified Dermatologist on July 2, 2021 No Comments

exercise after liposuction
Liposuction is a surgical procedure with the ability to enhance the contours of the body for a tighter, more toned look. Understandably, most who undergo this procedure are eager to head back to the gym to maintain, and flaunt, their results. Patients should, however, be very cautious when it comes exercising after liposuction. Doing “too much, too soon” may negatively impact your recovery and even distort the results of the procedure.

In this post, we’ll discuss why patients should gradually work their way back to their pre-surgery routines, provide the typical post-lipo exercise timeline, and answer several frequently asked questions perspective liposuction patients ask us during in-person consultations.

The Importance of Gradually Reintroducing Exercise

Liposuction is a surgical procedure that requires sufficient downtime for proper healing. Generally speaking, the more extensive the procedure (i.e., multiple areas treated and/or a high quantity of fat remove) the longer the body needs to fully recover. Waiting to resume your workouts until your body is ready minimizes injury, prevents post-surgical complications, and will help you achieve the best possible results.

While every patient wants to minimize their recovery time, returning to strenuous exercise too soon may result in prolonged swelling or bruising, separation of your incisions, infection, or an increased chance of the formation of excess scar tissue. Jumping back into intense exercise can also negatively affect procedure results by causing distortions or deformities along treatment areas. You must follow your doctor’s orders, listen to your body, and be willing to hold off on activity if necessary.

It’s important to slowly and methodically introduce strenuous movements after the body heals. We often recommend patients begin exercising at 40-60% of their pre-surgery effort, before gradually working their way back up to their old routines. Doing the appropriate level of exercise, at the right time, will ensure that the body is given the opportunity to properly heal.

Exercise After Liposuction: A Typical Timeline

While the following timeline may help you understand what to expect, it’s important to remember that everyone heals at their own pace. Your recovery will be unique to you and dependent on the characteristics of your unique lipo procedure, as well as your genetics, age, and fitness level prior to surgery.

Weeks 1-2: Prioritize Rest

Immediately after your procedure, rest is key. Keep your heart rate low, get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water. Treating your body with care during this time will help reduce swelling, bruising, and pain. Within the first 2-3 days you should begin taking light walks. This easy movement helps stimulate blood flow for quicker healing.

  • Prioritize rest
  • Take easy walks only
  • Keep your heart rate low

Weeks 2-3: Introduce Light Cardio

After the first few weeks you should feel comfortable increasing the length or pace of your walks. You might also introduce easy stationary cycling or the elliptical at this time. It’s important to stick with low-impact activity to avoid injury and other complications. This means no jumping, punching, or running. Listen to your body, and reduce the intensity of your activity if you feel any discomfort.

  • Increase length or speed of walks
  • Introduce low-impact cardio
  • Avoid high-impact, intense exercise

Weeks 3-6: Introduce Light Strength Training

After the first 3 weeks, most patients are comfortable increasing the pace of their cardio, and adding in light resistance training. During this time, work at no more than 60% of your pre-surgery pace until your body is fully healed. When lifting weights, use machines versus free weights to reduce risk of injury.

  • Work at 60% effort
  • Introduce moderate resistance training
  • Avoid high-impact, intense exercise

After 6 Weeks: Slowly Build Intensity

After 6 weeks have passed, you’ll likely feel comfortable increasing the pace and intensity of your routine, getting closer to your pre-surgery fitness level. Be patient, listen to your body, and ramp up your workouts slowly over time. If you observe excess pain or swelling, you may have done too much, too soon.

  • Slowly build toward 90% effort
  • Listen to your body
  • Slow down again as you need to

Exercising After Liposuction is Crucial for Maintaining Results

Liposuction permanently removes fat cells, but that doesn’t mean your remaining fat cells can’t expand with weight gain. To maintain your results and avoid misshapen contours due to weight gain in undesirable areas, patients must maintain their post liposuction weight.

To stay fit and slim, eat healthy whole foods, drink plenty of water, and exercise. Combining cardiovascular exercise with resistance training keeps body fat low and tones muscle for a slim, fit contour.

Liposuction and Exercise: FAQs

How soon after surgery can I start walking? 

You should begin easy, brief walks as soon as you’re able. For most people, this falls within 1-3 days post-surgery. Walking helps improve blood circulation for quicker healing.

How soon after surgery can I return to my normal exercise routine?

While walking can begin right away, patients must typically wait 4-6 weeks before returning to their pre-surgery routine. Follow the above guidelines and slowly build pace and intensity. Listen to your body, and to your doctor.

Can I do yoga? 

While some forms of yoga are gentle, others increase your heart rate and make you break a sweat. High heat and long held poses can increase inflammation. It’s best to wait until week 3 or later before pushing the limits on flexibility.

When will I be able to do cardio?

You can begin with easy walks within the first week. After that, slowly build up the speed and length of your walks. Between weeks 2-4 you should be able to add in additional forms of low impact cardio, like stationary cycling. Save high impact cardio, like running, for week 6 or later.

When will I be able to lift weights? 

Patients are normally cleared for moderate resistance training around week 4. When you begin, keep your effort level at 60% capacity, then gradually increase the intensity as you feel comfortable. Avoiding free weights until you’re 100% recovered reduces the risk of injury.

When will I be able to play contact sports?

Due to risk of injury, elevated heart rate, and increased swelling and bruising, contact sports should be reserved until after you’re 100% recovered.  


Ramya Kollipara, MD

Ramya Kollipara, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and fellowship-trained cosmetic dermatologic surgeon specializing in the practice of both cosmetic and medical dermatology. Dr. Kollipara completed a prestigious laser and cosmetic surgery fellowship program at Cosmetic Laser Dermatology in La Jolla, California. During her fellowship, she was involved in cutting-edge clinical research for novel cosmetic treatments involving fillers, neuromodulators and lasers.


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