People who undergo plastic surgery have varying degrees of fitness levels. Some are pretty sedentary, while others have an extremely active lifestyle. Both of these types (as well as everyone else in between!) can struggle with exercising after plastic surgery. There will be restrictions for the first several weeks that can make those who are used to exercising every day feel like they are going to go crazy. On the other hand, if you are a couch-potato, you will want to begin an exercise routine that will help you keep the weight off, which can be difficult. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, it is important to follow your surgeon’s instructions when it comes to physical activity.
To help you understand what to expect, here are some basic guidelines for exercise after surgery:
*Note: Every person (and every surgery) is different. These guidelines are not meant to replace the advice of your doctor. *
- Minimal movement for the first 48 hours. We are talking about just basically walking to the bathroom and back, maybe to the fridge for a glass of water. You will want to get up every so often to keep blood clots from forming, but it should be brief and gentle walking.
- After those first few days, you can begin to walk a little more. You will want to take a light walk around the house for about 5 minutes at a time. Begin the process by taking two or three walks on Day 3 post-op. Gradually increase your walks as the days progress until you are walking about every hour or hour and a half during the day. These short walks will keep blood flowing, reducing the risk of blood clots.
- By the second week, you can begin to do some normal activities, such as light housework, but you will still need plenty of rest so your body can recover. Your walks should still be light, but you can increase the time to about 10 minutes at a time.
- After you reach the three-week post-op mark, you can begin to increase the intensity of your walks but you do not want to get to the point where you are out of breath. Avoid weight lifting and anything that brings your heart rate up quickly. Your walks for this week should be about 15 minutes, twice a day at a light to moderate level. Continue this through the fourth and fifth weeks as well.
- At your six-week checkup, ask your doctor about returning to your regular fitness routine. You may want to start out at a modified pace, especially if your “regular” exercise routine is at a very advanced level. Then slowly work up to where you were pre-op, increasing the level of intensity every three or four days. It is important to listen to your body during this time. Don’t over-exert yourself and rest when you need to.
Why Is It So Important To Follow Exercise Guidelines?
Any type of physical activity raises the blood pressure, and raised blood pressure impacts the amount of inflammation and swelling. In addition to the excess swelling, too much activity can cause the incision to re-open. A re-opened wound increases the chance of a serious infection and can cause problems with scarring, making it much worse than it would be otherwise. Without the proper rest, your body will not heal properly. The longer you are in the healing phase, the more chances for problems to arise. In the end, you may not have the results that you have long desired if you don’t take care of yourself during the recovery process.
We want to once again impress on you that these are just generic guidelines and are not meant to replace the post-op instructions given to you by your surgeon. If you have questions about your activity level, when and what type of exercise you can do or any other questions about your recovery, you should call your doctor for information. He or she will be able to assess your unique situation and determine what is best for you. There are going to be times when you are feeling great and getting back to your old self seems like the best thing to do. Don’t give into the temptation! It may be frustrating, especially if you have been used to a fast-paced exercise routine, but in the end, you will be glad you did. On the other hand, if several weeks have passed and you have been cleared for exercise by your doctor, you should begin an exercise plan if you didn’t have one in the past. Exercising is the best way to maintain the results of your surgery.
If you have questions about plastic surgery procedures or the recovery process, please contact our office today!