Tips: Exercising After Plastic Surgery

Written by Chuma Chike-Obi, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on November 15, 2017 14 Comments

excercising after plastic surgery

“How soon can I start exercising again?” It’s a common question asked by plastic surgery patients who worry about disruptions to their active lifestyles and current workout program. While you may want to get back in the gym as soon as possible, it’s extremely important to give your body enough time to properly heal.

Here are some basic tips on exercising after plastic surgery:

Follow post-procedure instructions

The amount of physical activity your body can withstand during the recovery process will depend on many factors such as the level of invasiveness of the procedure you had and your body’s internal healing process. As such, it’s very important to follow all post-procedure instructions provided by your plastic surgeon. This includes going to all scheduled follow-up appointments, which allows your doctor to assess the healing process.

Start off slowly

While specific instructions regarding activity will differ depending on the surgery performed, most surgeons will recommend patients to start slow. Often, patients should expect it to take six to eight weeks before they are able to return to their pre- procedure workout activities. The intensity of activities is usually “staged in” with patients starting off by walking before continuing to more intensive aerobic activities (e.g. jogging, elliptical), and full impact resistance weight training.

Most surgeons will advise patients to limit their physical activity to low impact exercises for the initial period following their surgery. Walking, stretching, and light yoga are great ways to improve blood circulation which both speeds up healing and reduces the chances for complications (such as clot formation). These simple exercises have also been shown to have restorative benefits for the mind and body.

Beware: The consequences of going too hard

Doing overly vigorous or strenuous exercises too soon following a surgical procedure can be detrimental to the body’s healing process. Working out too hard and too soon can result in unnecessary bruising, swelling, fluid buildup, wound separation, and possibly infection.

Patients who improperly exercise also risk negatively distorting the final result of their procedure. A common example of this is women who exercise the chest too soon following breast augmentation. This can cause implants to become displaced, especially if the implant was placed beneath the muscle.

Listen to your body

One of the most important things patients can do while working out after their procedure is to listen to their body and immediately cease any activity that causes discomfort or pain. Do not become frustrated when you become physically exhausted performing an activity that was “easy” before your procedure. It will get easier for you again when you are fully recovered.

Patients should focus on slowly improving their endurance and energy levels, rather than jumping right into pre-procedure activity.

Wear supportive garments

Patients who are advised by their surgeon to wear supportive garments during exercising should do so. For example, women should wear a good supportive bra after any surgical breast procedure. Body contouring patients (such as liposuction) may also be recommended to wear specialized compression garments while being active.

More rest days

Giving yourself enough rest time between workouts has always been an important part of any exercise regimen. However, it’s even more important to give the body plenty of rest in-between workouts following a surgical procedure. Patients should schedule more “off-days” between workout days than they normally did before surgery. As the body heals and endurance returns, patients will find that they will be able to trim down rest days to their pre-surgery level.

When in doubt…

Patients who wonder if they should (or should not) do a specific exercise activity post- surgery should contact their surgeon before trying it. Your physician will be able to assess your current state and determine if the form of exercise is appropriate.

Patients may also consider hiring a certified personal trainer who has experience in creating post-surgery exercise routines.

Tips: Exercise following breast augmentation

Following a surgical breast procedure like breast augmentation or mastopexy (breast lift), patients should refrain from performing any kind of upper body exercises that affect the breasts until they are fully healed and cleared by their surgeon (usually 4-6 weeks following their procedure). This means no pull-ups, burpees, or planks! Additionally, cardio activities that affect the chest like running or jumping will also be off limits until you are cleared.

Tips: Exercise following facial cosmetic surgery

Following facial plastic surgery procedures like blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery) or a facelift, patients should minimize any exercise that results in drastic increases in blood pressure. Instead of spin classes or CrossFit, patients should focus on lighter aerobic exercises like yoga or walking until cleared by their surgeon.

Rhinoplasty patients need to be very careful to refrain from any activities that could pose any risk of causing a contact-injury to the nose.

Tips: Exercise following abdominoplasty (tummy tuck surgery)

Tummy tuck surgery is a more invasive procedure, with many patients requiring 8-10 weeks to fully recover and return to their pre-surgical exercise regimens. Since the abdomen muscles play a role in nearly every body movement, tummy tuck patients will need to limit exercise activity to casual walking and light stretching. Further exercise activities will have to be gradually (and carefully) phased in under the close watch of the surgeon as the abdomen heals and strengthens.


Chuma Chike-Obi, MD

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD completed a 6 year residency with the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliate hospitals in Houston, Texas. Dr. Chike-Obi specializes in cosmetic surgery, including facelift, blepharoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and reconstructive breast surgery.

14 Responses to “Tips: Exercising After Plastic Surgery”

  1. Avatar Lee Anna says:

    This is a very true post! I had a tummy tuck after loosing a great deal of weight. I was so used to hitting the gym that I began to get depressed following the procedure when I was “rest stricken”. It took a few weeks but I was able to get right back to where I left off in terms of endurance!

  2. Avatar Kyle says:

    I thought it was interesting that you talked about how most surgeons will advise patients to be careful how much physical activity they have. My younger sister is looking to hire breast augmentation surgeons but needs tips. I think I will talk to her about hiring a professional who will also give her professional advise afterward as well.

  3. Avatar Kayla says:

    My cousin wants to a better-looking nose before she starts her new job as a brand manager. My mom suggested trying plastic surgery and shared this article with her. It says here that she should follow the post-procedure instructions including activities that she can do right after.

  4. Avatar Earnest says:

    My wife is thinking of getting plastic surgery. It’s good to know that you shouldn’t exercise strenuously right after surgery to give your body the time to heal. This is good to know since my wife likes exercising and playing sports, so it would help for her to know that she should take it easy after getting surgery.

  5. Avatar Deb says:

    I am getting plastic surgery soon, and I have been wondering when I can start exercising again afterward. I’m glad you mentioned that patients should expect to take six to eight weeks before they can return to usual workout activities. I will have to make sure I take things slow.

  6. Avatar Teresa says:

    Great Post! I can not agree enough on taking time to recover you may feel great and you may be but there is no regret bigger than having to go back because you did not start off slowly.

    • Avatar Julie says:

      Totaly agree teresa , I asy this from experience. I felt fine and thought the take it easy advice as advisory but not essential, well I was wrong and had to go back for further treatment because I did not take it easy.

  7. Avatar Kenneth says:

    My wife is looking to have some cosmetic work done this year for her breasts. I just want to make sure the recovery is smooth and that nothing goes wrong afterwards. I appreciate you mentioning using compression underwear to get the most support, especially when exercising.

  8. Avatar Jocelyn says:

    My birthday is coming up, and I’ve been considering getting myself a face lift, but I’m concerned I wont be able to exercise after as I usually would. Your article had some great tips for exercising after plastic surgery, and I really liked how you said to focus on lighter aerobic exercises like yoga and walking that won create drastic increases in blood pressure. Thanks for the help; I’ll keep this in mind if I decide to get a face lift.

  9. Avatar Dr. Sherman says:

    Thanks for the exercise tips for the different plastic surgery procedures. I would add that patients should avoid anything that drastically increases your blood pressure if you’ve had a facelift. When you’re getting the procedure done, it would probably help to get advice from your doctor on what exercises, food, and other things they recommend so you can have the best results. It could also help to ask them about what is best to recover so you can do it quickly and get back to your daily life.

  10. Avatar Susan says:

    Is this also the case with facial cosmetic surgery? I was wondering as I enjoy running and would not like to set things back by doing the wrong thing. When I think about it running may well effect the face with sudden movements maybe I should try a different exercise while the healing goes on.

  11. Avatar Sharon says:

    Starting off slowly after plastic surgery is key but one thing that can be overlooked is post surgery underwear. It is always good to have underwear that will help reduce the chance of pain after surgery and when it comes to running the bra you wear is very important and has to be looked into. Thanks, Chuma for the post

  12. Great tips on exercising after surgery!

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