Cosmetic procedures are often sought by athletes of all levels, from professional sports competitors to weekend warriors, and just about everyone in between. This makes sense when you consider that the goal of plastic surgery is to enhance one’s appearance, and working out is one of the best ways to accomplish this. Perhaps understandably, an athletic patient is usually anxious to get back into the game as soon as possible following cosmetic surgery. However, it’s important for such patients to take it easy so as not to compromise their recoveries or jeopardize their results.
Exercising and engaging in other vigorous activities too soon after surgery can sometimes lead to serious complications, such as swelling, inflammation, infection, reopened incisions, and post-operative scarring. Of course, the circumstances of each patient are unique, but on average, a plastic surgery patient should expect to wait at least six weeks prior to resuming his or her normal fitness routine.
This doesn’t mean that an athletic patient must resign him- or herself to spending six weeks in bed following a cosmetic procedure. On the contrary, light exercise can be very beneficial to the healing process. For example, taking a few short walks each day can help prevent serious conditions like blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism. The key is to start slowly and carefully ease back into the regular routine.
Following is an example of how an exercise schedule might look in the weeks following cosmetic surgery:
• Week 1 – Three five-minute walks each day
• Week 2 – Three 10-minute walks each day
• Week 3 – Three 15-minute walks each day
• Week 4 – Four 15-minute walks each day; at this point, a surgeon might authorize resumption of a lighter version of the normal fitness regimen
• Week 5 – Ease back into the regular exercise routine
• Week 6 – Slowly increase the intensity of the workouts
Again, each patient is unique and will recover at a different rate, so it’s important to keep in mind that the ability to increase workout intensity from day to day or week to week will vary. In addition, there are many types of plastic surgery, and sometimes different procedures require different limitations on post-operative physical activity. While nothing can take the place of a personal consultation with a surgeon, a patient can refer to the following general guidelines for planning purposes prior to surgery if he or she is considering:
• Liposuction – Lipo is effective for removing localized pockets of fat from targeted areas of the body, but it will not prevent a patient from regaining the weight after surgery. Therefore, regular physical activity is encouraged following liposuction. A patient should begin with short walks during the first week, after which he or she might be able to begin light exercise (up to 25 percent of his or her regular routine). Vigorous activities like running should be avoided for at least three weeks. A patient can expect to slowly return to normal at around the six-week mark.
• Breast Enhancement – A patient should take frequent walks during the first three weeks after surgery. Beginning in week four, she can try some mild stretching of her chest and back, which will help keep her joints flexible and rid her body of toxins and other byproducts of surgery. Starting with her lower body, she can resume approximately 25 percent of her regular fitness routine after week four, 50 percent after week five, 75 percent after week six, and 100 percent after week seven or eight. Weightlifting and other overhead movements should be avoided for at least six weeks. While exercising, a patient should always wear a supportive bra, even after she has completely healed.
• Rhinoplasty – Due to the resulting sensitivity of the blood vessels in the nose, exercising too soon after rhinoplasty can cause nose bleeds and affect the final results. A patient should begin with short walks the day after surgery. Vigorous activities like running and jogging, and bending over under any circumstances, should be avoided for at least a week. During the first six weeks after surgery, the nose should be well protected, especially during exercise. Nasal bones require about six weeks to fully heal, and the even slightest bruise can alter the shape of the nose and necessitate further surgery.
Prospective patients who would like more information about how long they should wait to exercise following plastic surgery are encouraged to schedule a personal consultation with an experienced cosmetic surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Katie Perry is an online content editor in the Tampa Bay area. She posts articles about plastic surgery
topics and procedures including breast augmentation, liposuction, and more.