Exercising After a Tummy Tuck

If you've recently had a tummy tuck, you likely want to know the best time to resume exercise and sexual relations after the procedure. Also known as an abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is a surgery to remove excess skin and fat from the abdomen. The procedure also tightens the underlying muscles if it is necessary.

Senior woman stretching in a group exercise class
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Here's what to expect in terms of resuming activities after a tummy tuck.

Returning to Exercise

Following your surgery, you may be asked to walk around a bit to promote blood circulation. This will help you heal faster, but don't do this alone, as your balance and strength could be compromised because of the surgery.

Also, don't let this little jaunt fill your head with grandiose ideas of cleaning the house and working out. Those activities will need to wait.

Most surgeons will recommend waiting at least two to three days after surgery before showering. Light activity, such as walking on a flat surface, will likely be fine starting the day after surgery in most cases. Each day after your procedure, walk for a bit longer and a bit farther to increase your strength.

You'll want to approach strength training slowly and cautiously. Weight lifting can put a significant strain on incisions and sutures.

If you lift weights, start with light weights after your surgeon clears you for this activity—usually between 4-6 weeks after surgery. It could be six months or more before you can safely do ab exercises, such as crunches.

Modifying Daily Activities

As for your daily activity, you also want to stay away from lifting heavy objects. Do not lift, push, or pull objects that weigh more than 5 pounds for six weeks. As with weight-lifting, doing so will put pressure and stress on your incision site.

It's hard to remember at the moment that you are recovering from surgery, but this isn't time to be a hero. It is time to listen to your body (and your healthcare provider) and take it easy.

Ask your surgeon how long to stay home from work. Their answer will depend on the type of abdominoplasty you had. For more extensive tummy tucks, expect to take about four weeks off. This will allow your pain to dissipate and give you time to wean off pain medication. You should not drive until you have reached these milestones.

Sleeping Position

Do not sleep on your stomach until you're no longer sore. You may find sleeping on three pillows under your back/head and/or two pillows under your knees may reduce discomfort.

This is known as the semi-Fowler's position and should be used for two weeks following surgery to avoid excessive straining on the incision and to reduce scarring. Additionally, you will find it easier to transition from a lying to a sitting position due to less stress on your abdomen.

Other Things to Consider

It may take a while until you feel normal again. So, you'll not only be curious about when you may exercise again but about when you can resume your normal eating, routines. Review the following tips on how to address lifestyle issues during your recovery from abdominoplasty:

  • Eat lightly after surgery, increasing your intake and types of food as tolerated.
  • Pain medications may cause constipation. You may take an over-the-counter stool softener such as Colace or Docusate to avoid constipation.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • When can I exercise after a tummy tuck?

    Most surgeons will tell you to wait at least four to six weeks before returning to a normal exercise routine. Even then, you may be advised to wait longer before engaging in strenuous activities like weightlifting or CrossFit training. Speak with your healthcare provider before engaging in any exercise plan.

  • What exercise should I do after a tummy tuck?

    It's important to get up and move within the first 24 hours of your surgery to get your blood circulating. After around two weeks, you should start light cardio exercises that raise your heart rate without stressing abdominal tissues. You can then gradually incorporate leg and upper body strength training exercises that do not involve the abdominal muscles.

  • How soon after a tummy tuck can I have sex?

    Most surgeons will recommend that you wait four weeks after a tummy tuck before having sex. People with minimal correction and no muscle tightening may start earlier, but speak with your healthcare provider just to be safe.

  • How soon after a tummy tuck can I fly?

    Most surgeons will recommend that you wait at least 10 days after a tummy tuck before getting on an airplane. With surgeries like this, there is a risk of blood clots developing in the legs, known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which in some cases can dislodge and cause a blockage in the lungs, referred to as pulmonary embolism (PE).

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7 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  7. National Health Service (UK). When can I fly after surgery? Updated October 26, 2018.