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After the Tummy Tuck: The Exercises that help Your Recovery

Recovery from a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, can be enhanced with regular exercise. 

But remember, a tummy tuck is a significant surgical procedure, and recovering from the operation is a serious business. 

Here, Dr. Scott Farber of Farber Plastic Surgery outlines a number of exercises that speed up recovery from a tummy tuck, and ensure patients achieve the results they desire. First, he explains exactly what happens to your body during a tummy tuck, and then how you can help your body recover from the procedure.

What Happens in a Tummy Tuck Operation?

For many patients, muscles in the abdominal region become detached or stretched during pregnancy or as a result of obesity. This also results in excess flabby skin around the midriff. 

A tummy tuck solves these problems. During a tummy tuck, your surgeon will make an incision along your lower abdomen. Through this incision, the surgeon is able to manipulate the muscles and skin of the abdominal region by reinforcing or tightening the muscles that have separated by pulling them closer together and fixing them in place. Excess skin can also be removed and remaining skin can be stretched over the abdomen to smooth the area and provide structural support to the lower spine and abdominal organs.  The surgeon then closes the incision with sutures, and your body begins the healing process. 

Due to the invasive nature of this surgery, the body experiences internal and external bruising, stretched muscles, and of course, the incision through which the operation is performed. Before you are able to return to normal function and activities, your body must first do some healing.

What Happens During Recovery from a Tummy Tuck?

After the surgery, your abdomen will be bruised, swollen, and sensitive. 

Bruising occurs due to blood escaping from damaged blood vessels, which becomes trapped between the skin and the musculature.  

Bruising contributes to swelling, but swelling is also caused by your body’s defense systems protecting the damaged area. Fluids and white blood cells can pool in the abdominal region after a tummy tuck, leading to swelling. 

Regular exercise helps reduce this bruising and swelling, but not before your body is ready.

What Can I Do to Help my Body Heal from a Tummy Tuck?

First Twenty-Four Hours

First and foremost, it is absolutely vital that you allow your body complete rest for the twenty-four hours immediately following your procedure. Giving your body a chance to adjust to the procedure and begin the healing process helps keep the altered musculature in place, and provides the incision with an opportunity to start to close properly. 

Many patients may spend the first day in the hospital, just to ensure there are no complications with the procedure. Sitting up on your own, and perhaps standing and sitting slowly, are the only exercises you should be doing during the first twenty-four hours. 

After the first day, you can start some very slow walking. This will help with blood circulation.

First Two Weeks After Surgery

Proper circulation is important during the healing process as the blood transports waste material away from the site and delivers the building blocks for your body’s recovery. 

You must remember that the muscles of your abdomen need time to attach themselves properly, and stretching during these early days poses the risk of detaching the muscles or opening up the incision. For these reasons, it is crucial that you keep your hands beneath your shoulders, and you don’t stretch your abdomen.  

Light walking with a slight bend at the waist is all that you should do for the first two weeks, gradually increasing the distance with each day.

Weeks Three and Four

After two weeks, you can begin to gently mobilize your waist, and partake in walking or gentle cycling. You should still avoid lifting weights and any exercises that target the abdominal region.  

This helps mobilize the area, further increasing blood flow and beginning to test the range of motion of the muscles, while giving the muscles and incision proper time to adjust and heal.

Weeks Four to Six

 Provided there are no signs of pain or discomfort, you can begin slightly more intense exercise during this time. Slowly increase the range of motion without putting large amounts of stress on the abdominal region.

Two Months After Surgery

Depending on your rate of recovery, by this time, most patients can resume regular exercise. You can begin to increase cardio and also target the abdominal region with specific activities such as knee tucks, leg raises, oblique training, and planks.

Cardio exercise and proper diet is the best way to maintain your results from a tummy tuck. By gradually increasing aerobic activity and paying attention to your caloric intake during the first two months of recovery, you will help keep your weight down. Remember, take it slow as you recover from a tummy tuck.

For a consultation on recovery or to discuss your potential tummy tuck, call Dr. Farber on 561 503 2700 or fill out his online form.