How Soon Can I Exercise After a Tummy Tuck?

By: Dr. Angelo Cuzalina


Tummy tuck surgery is appropriate for people who are already close to their goal weight but experience loose, sagging, or wrinkled skin on their abdomen that can’t be reduced through diet and exercise. While it is not technically a weight loss procedure, patients can lose up to 10 – 20 pounds after a tummy tuck. However, the recovery period requires rest and abstention from exercise. As a result, patients are frequently concerned about gaining back any lost weight.


Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Angelo Cuzalina at Tulsa Surgical Arts in Tulsa, OK understands the concerns of patients who are thinking about undergoing a tummy tuck and talks patients through what to expect after the procedure.


Below, we’ll discuss how soon patients may have to wait to get back to their exercise routines after tummy tuck surgery.

What does tummy tuck surgery involve?

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, tightens loose skin and muscles to shape the abdomen and create a flatter belly. Dr. Cuzalina performs the surgery using general anesthesia and makes incisions based on the amount and locations of problematic skin.


Some patients only need minimal skin removal, or a mini tummy tuck, while others require a full tummy tuck and an incision that runs from hip to hip. The procedure is typically accompanied by body contouring and liposuction to remove troublesome pockets of fat.


Patients are sent home in a compression garment after tummy tuck surgery to control swelling, making standing and walking painful for a few days after the procedure. Proper healing requires complete rest for those first few days. After that, patients can begin to resume some everyday activities. But getting back into workouts takes a bit longer.

When can I exercise after a tummy tuck?

As the abdominal muscles adjust and the surgical incision heals, patients are encouraged to do some walking. Most patients can get back to their regular daily routines within two weeks, but exercise must be relatively light for the first 6 weeks.  Elliptical machine, walking and light weight training is best for the first 2-6 weeks as tolerated. 


However, full workouts, especially those that involve crunches or other abdominal strain, should be avoided until roughly eight weeks after tummy tuck surgery. Every patient is different, and Dr. Cuzalina will make recommendations based on your body and its recovery. Lymphatic massage starting the day after tummy tuck surgery and at least once per week after that can dramatically improve recovery by promoting decreased edema and less pain.


Those concerned about gaining weight as they recover from tummy tuck surgery are encouraged to get some light exercise in the weeks following the procedure until they can work back up to their full strength. Your particular instructions will also depend on your exercise habits before your tummy tuck surgery.

How to stay fit after a tummy tuck

Roughly a week after a tummy tuck, patients can begin to take longer walks to stay active and maintain good blood circulation. It may take two weeks to work up to more significant cardiovascular exercise.  Dr. Cuzalina absolutely recommends physical activity and exercise for health but also realizes anyone can out eat their exercise routine.  So, it is critical to eat a healthy diet and stay more toward a low carbohydrate and low salt diet especially right after surgery along with plenty of water.  Don't forget your vegetables as well.  A tummy tuck can significantly decrease your clothing size(s) and improve your shape but don't assume that you can just eat whatever you want because you look so much better.  You can still gain weight if you over eat and it will find somewhere on your body to enlarge..  The good news is that if you simply maintain your weight the results will always be apparent.


Longer, faster walks and time on the elliptical or stationary bike often make good fitness options after around two weeks. But it’s safest to wait until you’ve seen your surgeon for a follow-up appointment and they have approved more activity.


Lifting light weights to strengthen your arms, chest, and shoulders is often appropriate for patients after 3 – 4 weeks of recovery.


After 5 – 6 weeks, some light abdominal work may be appropriate for some patients. Again, this should be cleared with your surgeon. You may want to hire a personal trainer to monitor your workouts since they can help you avoid exercises that target your abdominals, which will slow the healing process.


Finally, after 7 – 10 weeks, it may be time to engage your core again, but patients typically need to start slowly and work up to more repetitions.


Crunches, sit-ups, swimming, weightlifting, and CrossFit isolate the abdominal muscles and will likely be the last exercises patients can add back to their routines.

Tummy tuck surgery in Tulsa, OK

If you’re interested in learning more about tummy tuck surgery in the Tulsa, OK area, schedule a consultation with cosmetic surgeon Dr. Angelo Cuzalina at Tulsa Surgical Arts. He will give you customized advice about the tummy tuck surgery that is right for you and inform you about any physical limitations you can expect in the weeks and months after a tummy tuck.

Before and After Tummy Tuck Photos

before and after tummy tuck
* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.