One of the most common questions from patients relates to resuming exercise after plastic surgery.  For the purpose of our discussion, exercise refers to any physical activity that elevates heart rate and blood pressure — for example, gym exercise, sports, heavy lifting over 5 lbs, speed walking, etc.  Whether undergoing a minor excision under local anesthetic vs. more extensive cosmetic surgery, it is important to refrain from exercise until adequate healing has occurred.  This time frame varies based on the extent of surgery and other patient factors.

          Generally please refrain from exercise for two weeks following minor plastic surgery procedures

It is recommended to refrain from exercise while stitches are still in place following minor excisions — for example, removal of superficial skin cancers, moles, lipomas, and cysts.  Patients often ask whether they may modify their exercise routine to protect a given body site, while still continuing to exercise following a minor procedure.  For example, following a skin cancer excision on the lower leg, is it possible to continue lifting weights and just avoid prolonged running?  Unfortunately not.  Any activity which increases heart rate and blood pressure will increase the risk of bleeding at a surgical site.  Although walking is generally not considered strenuous exercise, it should also be minimized following procedures performed on the lower extremities until well healed.  Prolonged walking or standing following a procedure on the leg may increase the risk of healing complications.  Swelling and bleeding may increase, thereby increasing the risk of wound dehiscence (referring to wound separation).

          Longer recovery is recommended before resuming exercise following more extensive surgery

Following more extensive surgery – for example, facial and breast cosmetic surgeries – it is generally recommended to refrain from exercise for approximately one month.  Since surgery is more invasive, the potential for bleeding and more serious healing complications is also greater.  There have been reports of hematomas following breast augmentation up to one month post-operatively, which support these recommended activity restrictionsFollowing tummy tuck, strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for 6 weeks post-operatively to lower risk of healing complications at the muscle repair site.

          Longer periods to avoid exercise after plastic surgery may also be recommended based on patient factors

If a patient has known risk factors for delayed healing – for example, certain medical conditions or take blood thinners, steroids, or other medications – a longer time frame may be recommended.

While it is frustrating for patients to refrain from exercise after plastic surgery, recommendations are made with patient safety in mind.  Short-term activity restrictions may decrease risk of wound healing complications, which may protect long-term outcomes.

 Specific recommendations will be made for each patient during consultation prior to undergoing plastic surgery.  They will be based on an individual patient’s activity level and personal interests in context with the planned extent of surgery.  Activity restrictions post-operatively are intended to lower risk of healing complications, in particular, bleeding, further bruising and swelling, and delayed wound healing.

Please contact us if considering plastic surgery in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with Dr. Power.

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