Body Contouring with Dr Bernard Beldholm

What are the best exercises after a tummy tuck? [recovery tips]

February 16, 2020

Exercise and fitness is important after a tummy tuck. In this video, Dr. Bernard Beldholm FRACS, a body contouring specialist surgeon in Australia, shares the best exercises after tummy tuck at each stage of recovery. 

Many patients think that staying in bed all day is the best way to heal. This thinking is outdated. Today, doctors know that it is important to get moving as soon as possible after surgery. Yes, even on Day 1! While you won’t be working out or lifting heavy groceries for a few weeks after tummy tuck, light physical activity such as walking can be extremely beneficial.

Knowing what to expect at each stage of recovery helps make sense of the kinds of exercise that can be done. Here is an exercise plan for what most patients can expect in the weeks following surgery:

1-2 weeks after surgery 

Walking is the best thing to do at this stage. The latest medical science says that walking soon after a tummy tuck can improve recovery. Standing up to walk every few hours is all that is needed. For the first day, you may need to walk only for a few minutes. It can be hard on the first day, but well worth it. Walking has been shown to reduce the risk of blood clots after surgery. You can walk more each day. Be patient, you will be walking upright by Day 10.

2-4 weeks after surgery 

You guessed it. More walking! Now you are walking upright and can do even more walking each day. Light cycling (on a machine only - stay off the road) is also possible for most patients. Non-strenuous daily activities also become a possibility. Avoid heavy lifting of any kind. For example, bags of heavy groceries or weight lifting is a no-go. 

4-6 weeks after surgery 

Now that you're healing nicely, light exercise may be resumed. Low-impact aerobics are a good idea. You can also start taking longer walks. Lifting arm and leg weights is also possible for most patients. Don't strain yourself too much though. You are still healing. Remember, if you feel pain, stop. Wound breakdown is still a possibility now. Avoid stretching and vigorous exercise at this time.

6-8 weeks after surgery 

Hooray! You're back to a full exercise routine. Body lift and extensive tummy tucks patients may require a few extra weeks to return to full exercise, however. Avoid starting any extreme exercise routines for now. Basic full exercise is what to aim for. At 7-weeks post-op, marked swelling is present, but discomfort will be nearly gone.

8+ weeks after surgery

Everything is starting to feel more like normal now. You're feeling good. You can take your full exercise routine a bit further now. When in doubt about any exercise routine, ask your surgeon for advice. 

Let’s get moving and on the way to a speedy recovery!

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Dr Bernard Beldholm M.B.B.S B.Sc(Med) FRACS FACCS is a leading body contouring surgeon.