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How soon can I start physical activity & exercise?

The type of surgery will generally dictate how long you will need to refrain from exercise or strenuous physical activity following surgery.

Most wounds are healed by two weeks but the overall strength of the wound is not at a maximum until 4 – 6 weeks from surgery. Therefore, starting strenuous physical activity prior to this time can potentially result in a widened scar.

Starting physical activity too soon will result in the blood pressure increasing during the exercise. This can potentiate swelling and bruising in the immediate post-operative period. Allowing the wound to settle and mature will give the operated area a chance to heal without any additional tension.

With facelift surgery for example, generally it is advised for no heavy lifting or bending during the first week. After the wounds have been checked at 1 week, providing the wound is healing well, then very light exercise such as walking can be initiated. This is slowly built up over the next 4 – 6 weeks such that by 6 weeks you are back to your normal activities. For abdominoplasty and/or liposuction to the abdomen, exercise would be delayed till 6 weeks. At this stage light exercise can be initiated and reaching the normal level by 12 weeks.

The overall time before exercise can be restarted will depend on the surgery and the region operated on. The main thing to remember is to start exercise lightly and not go back to exercising the way you were prior to the operation.

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