Summary: Many people who opt for a tummy tuck operation have recently lost a significant amount of weight and are looking to make sure their belly surface matches the contours of their abdomen. But because so many tummy tuck patients are incredibly health conscious and fitness conscious, it can be difficult to resist the urge to hit the gym after surgery. This is especially true because of modern painkilling and pain numbing medications. But protecting your results means staying off the treadmill, at least for a little while.
After Losing Weight
Abdominoplasty is an incredibly popular procedure. Oh, you’ve never heard of it? You might recognize it by its more colloquial name: tummy tuck. Now the wheels are clicking. Tummy tucks are often popular with women who have recently achieved a certain weight loss threshold. In fact, plastic surgeons will often see patients after they have achieved a target weight loss or an ideal weight, because losing or gaining substantial weight after a tummy tuck can have unfortunate consequences on the end results.
Because tummy tuck patients are often athletic individuals who have settled into a relatively healthy lifestyle, they are often eager to get back to their regular routines. It’s easy to see why: exercise is addictive, though it may not seem like it. There’s a chemical high that comes from physical activity, as endorphins are released into the bloodstream to expedite oxygen to aching muscles. And there’s also the high that simply comes from achievement: it feels good to reach those exercise goals.
Walk Don’t Run
In almost all cases, exercise is good for you, but it’s not a good idea to jump back into things right after your tummy tuck surgery. This can be especially difficult for patients who have gotten such positive results from diet and exercise in the past—especially as the belly swells in the weeks following surgery. It can feel like the best way to combat that swelling tissue is to get on the treadmill and hit the ground running, but those feelings are almost always counter-productive.
Here’s the deal. Your body needs time to heal. In looking for an expert on the tummy tuck Clear Lake TX plastic surgeon Dr. Charles Polsen stood out. According to his website, abdominoplasty can be a big deal, there can be some serious tissue removal, and your abdomen tends to be one of your more pain sensitive areas (indeed, tummy tucks are often referred to as among the most painful aesthetic plastic surgery procedures). Because tummy tucks are so painful, plastic surgeons will often prescribe a pain pump or use a numbing agent such as the Exparel shot. Both of these methods effectively numb the pained area and can sometimes give patients an inflated sense of wellness.
And Stay Off the Couch
Of course, this doesn’t mean you want to spend the first six months after surgery lying on your couch. Your body requires some movement—some pain—in order to heal more quickly and more effectively. So while you’ll always want to check with your plastic surgeon before moving to the next stage of your recovery, there are some general rules of thumb that will give you an idea of what you can expect.
After two weeks of recovery, engage in light activity only. This means no working out. But you should be well enough to get up and go to the bathroom or put a bowl of Spaghetti-O’s in the microwave. You might experience some discomfort while performing these activities, and your plastic surgeon should give you an idea of what the safe pain zone is compared to the unsafe pain zone. Try to whatever you’re walking on level—so avoid stairs and hills wherever possible, as those will put more strain on your abdomen and cause you significantly more pain.
After your first four weeks of recovery, you can step it up a little bit. If you’re a weight lifter, don’t go nuts—you can start to taper yourself in, but only use moderate to light weights. In fact, this is true with most of your workout routines. Start to get back to it, but keep it light and don’t go crazy even if you want to.
After Week 6
After your first six weeks of recovery, you should be okay for most strenuous activity. The exception, of course, is any activity that involves your abdominal muscles. So, if you’re planning on doing some hard core Yoga or crunches, you’ll have to wait at least six months for your abdominal muscles to heal properly, or you could risk injuring yourself further.
Here’s the other thing to keep in mind: if you’re on painkillers or numbing agents, you’re going to want to pay special attention to your body, as you may be experiencing pain—which is your body’s way of telling you to stop doing something because damage is occurring—but may not be aware of it.
Always Check With Your Surgeon
Whatever your plastic surgery procedure, you’re going to want to consult with your plastic surgeon before getting back to it, as so much will depend on your specific procedure and your condition after surgery. No one blames you for wanting to stay on the treadmill and keep lifting weights—it’s gotten you this far. But in order to safeguard your results and make sure they really last with minimal scarring, you’ll have to resist that urge to hit the gym, at least for a little while.