Tummy tuck surgery or abdominoplasty is one of the most popular cosmetic surgery procedures. It might be suitable for you if you want to get rid of the excess fat and skin in the abdominal area. The surgery also tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall. A lot of patients who get the procedure are dealing with loose skin as a result of pregnancy or massive weight loss. After surgery it is important to keep fit and healthy. However, you should know that you can’t resume straight away exercising after abdominoplasty surgery. You need some time to recover before resuming your daily routine and starting exercise.
In this article, we will discuss what to expect after abdominoplasty surgery and a sensible, practical way to get back to your fitness routine. Dr Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon who performs cosmetic surgical procedures in Sydney NSW.
Guide to Recovery
Importance of Recovery After Tummy Tuck- Abdominoplasty Surgery
Plastic surgery is followed by a recovery period that could last from a few weeks up to a few months. How quickly you recover depends on the extent of the surgery, your overall health condition, and how well you stick to the postoperative instructions of Dr Hunt. Abdominoplasty surgery can be of various types. Sometimes the surgery is a skin only procedure – mini Abdominoplasty. Other times the tightening of abdominal muscles is also needed, along with liposuction. If the procedure is more complex or involves a combination of surgical techniques, the recovery period can be longer.
It is important to remember that every person is unique and will heal at a different pace. As a general rule of thumb, the younger and fitter you are, there is a high chance to recovery quickly after the surgery. It is important to allow your body to fully heal and recover before getting back to your exercise routine.
Exercising too soon can lead to prolonged swelling, blood clot formation, infections, separation of incisions, and more prominent scarring. You need to stick to Dr Hunt’s orders and listen to your body before trying a new activity.
Exercising after Abdominoplasty – What to Expect?
Below we are going to discuss a generalised timeline of patient recovery and return to exercise following abdominoplasty. You might recover faster or slower based on the factors we have discussed above. It is important to take Dr Hunt’s opinion into account before resuming your regular exercise routine.
1. 24 Hours Post Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
The first 24 hours after the surgery are critical and more challenging for the patient. No matter how fit you were prior to getting the surgery done, you might still experience trouble sitting up, lying down, and performing regular tasks. This is the time to rest and hydrate your body. Make sure you have someone to help you around the house. You can either ask a family member or a friend to take care of you or even hire a caretaker.
The only activity you should be doing at this time is walking shorter distances for a few minutes. This activity will improve blood circulation, prevent the formation of blood clots and kick start your healing journey. You might need support while walking. You should keep slightly bent forward position of the body to avoid putting too much pressure on the incisions. Avoid over stretching your muscles at all costs.
2. 1-2 Weeks Post Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
During the first few weeks after the surgery, Dr Hunt will advise you to wear a compression garment 24/7. Your core plays an important role in every single movement. Hence, you might find it challenging to carry out simple tasks such as standing up and even walking. Try to move gently and avoid ample body movements.
Make sure to extend the duration of your walks by the end of week one. Once the first 2 weeks are over, you can also incorporate other light cardiovascular exercises. Select activities that raise your heart rate without stressing your core. Stay clear of any strenuous activities. Avoid any movements that involve twisting and turning the abdomen. Stationary cycling is a great exercise to do at this point. It gets your heart rate up, enables you to move your legs and doesn’t involve a lot of abdominal muscle movement.
3. 3-4 Weeks Post Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
By the end of the third week, your swelling should subside significantly. If you haven’t tried walking longer distances or any other cardiovascular exercises by this point, now is the time to do it. Stay clear of heavy lifting and exercises that require full-body movements and/or involve your core. Sit-ups are still to be avoided, and the same is valid for Yoga and pilates.
4. 4-6 Weeks Post Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
Slowly and steadily increase the intensity of your cardio workouts. By this point, low-impact, cardio workouts will work well for you. Walking, stationary cycling, and elliptical are all good choices. By the end of the six-week marker, you can slowly add strength training workouts to your routine. Select exercises that isolate your arms and legs and don’t involve your core. You can also try working with a personal trainer to ensure you are isolating the right muscle groups.
5. 6-8 Weeks Post Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
If everything goes well, you should be cleared for all kinds of aerobic workouts. All low, moderate and high impact exercises should be ok at this point. You can also start doing yoga and other gentle full-body movements.
Once you feel comfortable with cardio, you can begin strength training as well. Be careful with exercises that can put stress on your abdominal walls. It is better to go for free weights rather than weight machines. By the end of the 8 to 10 weeks, you can slowly start to get back to your pre-surgery workout routine if Dr Hunt gives you a go. Start slow and gradually build up your strength. Do not go from zero to a two-hour full-body routine in one day.
Exercise Ideas after an Abdominoplasty
Once you are fully recovered and cleared for exercise, you can resume your usual workout routine. It is crucial to wait for the right time, otherwise you might end up doing more harm than good.
Let’s see what muscle groups impact the overall appearance of your abdomen. Rectus abdominis, internal oblique, external oblique, and transversus abdominis all play an important role in how your tummy looks and feels. The following are some exercises that can help you tone the abdomen:
It is a basic yet often effective exercise to tone your tummy. The exercise involves minimal movement and leaves little room for error. Get your hands on a good quality yoga mat to do crunches. It will make exercising a lot more comfortable. Look at the ceiling and avoid tucking your chin to the chest. Avoid pulling on your neck. Once you master the basic crunch, you can try different variations:
- Add a twist to the crunch by alternating the shoulders while lifting
- Try a V-crunch by sitting in a chair. Keep your back straight and lean at a 45-degree. Contract your abdomen while raising your legs
Contrary to the name, leg lifts can have an impact on your tummy. Lie on a yoga mat, keep your back straight and arms at your sides, and lift your legs a few inches above the ground. Make sure that your abdominal muscles are tight. Lower your legs slowly. Repeat as needed.
Plank is a great toning exercise for your tummy and the whole body. Place your hands under the shoulders in a push-up position and hold it for a minute. Try to keep your body in a straight line. Do not bend your hips and waist in any way. If you are new to plank, you can start with a 5 to 10-second plank and gradually build it up to one minute or more.
You can also try stability exercises as they engage multiple muscle groups all at the same time. Keep your body stable while doing ab tightening movements.
Contrary to the popular belief, ab exercises aren’t the only way to strengthen your ab muscles. You can try balance crunch, knee fold tucks, pilates, yoga, sliding pike and other exercises.
FAQs about Abdominoplasty Recovery
Here is a list of frequently asked questions we get regarding exercising after Abdominoplasty:
How soon can I work out after tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty?
- You can slowly build up your exercise routine in about 8 to 10 weeks after the surgery if Dr Hunt gives you the go ahead. Remember that each individual is different and will heal at a different pace.
How much can I walk after an Abdominoplasty?
- During the initial week, try walking 10 to 15 minutes a day at a very slow pace. By the end of the two-week marker, you can increase the duration to 25 minutes. By the end of the month, you can walk for up to an hour comfortably. It is important to listen to your body. At any point, if you feel tired and exhausted, take a break, drink some water and start again.
Can I do squats after a tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty?
- Squats can only be performed once the initial 8 to 10 weeks after the surgery have passed and Dr Hunt clears you for exercise.
How do I get my abdomen toned and tight after surgery?
- To get the most out of your surgery, it is recommended that you eat lots of protein, drink enough water, let go of yo-yo diets, and incorporate ab workouts into your exercise routine.
Why my stomach is still big after a tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty?
- An Abdominoplasty is a complex surgical procedure. The removal of excess skin can affect the lymphatic drainage system. As a result, your tummy might be swollen and bloated for quite some time. You will need to wait for the swelling to go down before you see the actual outcome of surgery.
Can you tone your abdomen after a tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty?
- Once you are fully healed, you can start doing ab workouts if you wish to create a toned appearance.
Does fat return after an Abdominoplasty?
- If you gain weight, you might end up with fat on your tummy area. Hence, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle after tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty surgery.
How can I avoid weight gain after a tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty?
- Following a healthy lifestyle is the only way to prevent excess weight gain after surgery.
Can I do sit-ups after abdominoplasty?
- It is recommended to avoid doing sit-ups along with other core exercises for 10 to 12 weeks post surgery or until Dr Hunt gives you the okay.
How long does the tightness last after surgery?
- The tight feeling along the tummy area can linger on for 6 to 12 weeks after the Abdominoplasty surgery.
How long after tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty do you see results?
- You will be able to see some difference almost immediately after the surgery. However, swelling can take up to 12 months to go away completely.
Can I walk on the treadmill after a tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty?
- Yes, you can walk on the treadmill after the surgery. Just keep the speed low in the beginning and gradually build up the pace.
Does a tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty make your waist smaller?
- Yes, an Abdominoplasty can help you get rid of excess skin and fat around the tummy area which eventually reduces the size of your waist. That being said, you should discuss the potential results with Dr Hunt to understand what you can get out of the surgery.
Further Reading about Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Surgery
- Read Dr Hunt’s Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Surgery page
- Read Dr Hunt’s Belt Lipectomy page
- Read Dr Hunt’s blog about Bruising and Swelling after Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Surgery
- See Dr Hunt’s Real Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty Patients Before and After Photos
Medical References about Abdominoplasty Recovery
- What you need to know about your abdominoplasty recovery on ASPS
- Abdominoplasty on Mayo Clinic site
- What to Know About Recovery from a abdominoplasty on WebMD
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Plastic Surgeon
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery.
He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing cosmetic and plastic surgery in Sydney.
Careful, considerate and honest, Dr Jeremy Hunt works with you to find a solution that is suitable for your body and your lifestyle. Every patient is unique and requires a personalised approach to reach their goals.
Dr Hunt has provided his one-on-one service and attention to detail to thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A. Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from well-established and experienced plastic surgeons.
Next Step – Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Want more information before scheduling your consultation?
- Find out more about pricing, medical payment plans and paying for your surgery
- Request more information about the procedure – call on 1300 157 200 or contact us
If blepharoplasty is something you’re considering, Dr Hunt can thoroughly explain all the options to you in a one-on-one consultation.
- Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.