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Running a Marathon After Tummy Tuck?

I will begin training for my third marathon on the first week of February. However, I am scheduled to have a tummy tuck on January 12. Is that range of time (3 weeks) sufficient enough for to recover and begin running again? I run an average of 4 to 7 miles at 3 to 5 times a week.

Doctor Answers (13)

Long term outcome will be better with patience


Hi there,

There are many different variations on the tummy tuck, but if your planned procedure will involve tightening of your abdominal muscles, I would personally not want you running (not even lightly) until the 6 week point. Human scars do not gain in strength in a linear fashion after surgery, but rather exponentially for the first 6 weeks, and it is only at that point that your muscle repair will be at 90% of it's eventual strength.

Running is obviously very taxing to the body core (the very muscles repaired in surgery) and may cause a separation of the recently repaired muscles. This would lead to a less than ideal outcome, and the need for a revision in order to achieve your desired appearance. Talk to your surgeon about their comfort level with this activity, and follow their advice carefully. You're making a significant investment in your appearance and you'll want to protect it.

Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Running after tummy tuck


Every patient and every surgeon is different, but we do not recommend light running after TT until 4 weeks postop.

The dangers in exercising too early are swelling or fluid formation. Often the lower abdomen gets very firm if the patient "overdoes it", and then subsides as they take it easy.

Exercise right after surgery is especially bad since the "flaps" (surgical areas) cannot stick to their new homes if they are moved too much.

Many of our patients are eager to resume their normal exercise routines. I usually advise patients that the day of full activity is near, and not to overdo it. Often your surgeon will allow you to walk long distances on a flat surface. This preserves your fitness level without straining the surgery. We typically allow our patients to walk long distances by 2 weeks after surgery.

After any surgery, patients should have an amazing diet with minimal carbohydrates and saturated fats and high in fruits, vegetables and antioxidants. Since the patient is generally sedentary after surgery, there is a risk of weight gain.

Also a soft risk factor for problems after surgery is stress. Where ever possible, patients should maximize their support systems and minimize stress, easier said than done I know.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Absolutely not!


Running 7,

I appreciate your enthusiasm for running. You also probably have a high tolerance for pain, but there is no way that you will be able to achieve that level of exercise 3 1/2 weeks after a tummy tuck. It will simply be too painful, aside from the fact that you will likely tear the stitches that are used to tighten your abdominal musculature. Put the endorphin rush on hold for at least 6 weeks and even then, be careful and listen to your body. Good luck!

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Vigorous exercise after tummy tuck - No way!


Wound healing strength increases significantly from the 14th day after surgery up to two years after surgery, when the optimal strength will have been achieved. At 6-8 weeks after surgery, your wound healing strength should be at 60-70%. At 3 weeks, you are too weak to start running. Be patient!

New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

You should be able to start with brisk walking at 3 weeks


In general most patients wouldn't feel like agressive running until about 6 weeks after a "full" abdominoplasty. After checking with your surgeon you should be able to start with brisk walking or perhpas an elliptical trainer at about 3 weeks. The bouncing and pounding from running will likley be too uncomfortable until aobut 6 weeks.

Each patient is unique so please confirm with your surgeon.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Ask your surgeon


It may be pushing it a bit to begin that type of training after 3 weeks, but do what your plastic surgeon advises. I tell my patients that within 3 weeks they can begin some light cardio such as fast walking on a treadmill and work up gradually from there.

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

At that level - I'd give yourself at least 5 weeks


All patients are different, and some do heal more quickly than others, but 3 weeks is not enough time. With that level of training and the amount of running you are planning on doing, you need at least 5 weeks.

I recommend to all my tummy tuck patients to wait at least 6 weeks to resume full activity, but 5 weeks is acceptable. Any quicker than that and you are risking your results, and your health. The body needs time to recover.

Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Running after an abdominoplasty


Your plastic surgeon is the best source for answering your questions.  For my patients I allow light activity at one week, building up to some light physical activity, walking on treadmill, elliptical between the third and fourth weeks.  I advise patients to avoid vigorous activities such as training for a road race for eight weeks.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Running after tummy tuck


Our office will guide you through the process.  At each visit, we will tell you your limits.  We usually don't have tummy tuck patients run until about 6 weeks after surgery.  We will have you walking, doing the recumbent bike etc to get your heart rate up and then work up to running.  

Web reference:

Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Running and vigorous exercise after tummy tuck


Regarding "I run an average of 4 to 7 miles at 3 to 5 times a week". I admire your discipline and feel sympathetic exhaustion just reading it.

But - I WOULD NOT resume such exercises for at least 6-8 weeks after your operation.

To understand why - consider what Plastic surgeons do in a tummy tuck and what the end point of healing is. We undermine a large portion of the anterior abdominal wall - separating skin and fat from the muscles. The muscles are tightened and brought back to the center and the lower transverse incision is closed. Thereby, a large pocket / cave is formed which we want to be obliterated by gradual adherence to the muscles below. If the skin is not allowed to stick down (by constant side to side shearing motion, by fluid collection etc), a chronic smooth lining forms along the walls and creates a CHRONIC BURSA (pocket in Latin - always sounds more impressive...). The quick obliteration of the pocket is the reason for drain placement. This is also the reason behind wearing pressure garments.

In exercises, not only does your skin move (try walking and observe the movement of your blouse or shirt vis a vis your skin) adherence BUT it also may affect the muscle closure.

Once the skin as stuck down, the tension on the muscle repair line is distributed along a wider area and no skin movement will take place. At that time you will be ready to return to you routine.

Good Luck.

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.