Strengthen Abdominal Muscles Before Tummy Tuck?

Is it better to strengthen your stomach muscles prior to having a tummy tuck, or should you wait until after the surgery?

Doctor Answers 21

Strengthening abdominal muscles before Tummy Tuck does not make any difference

Dear Jill,

Although most people who love to exercise would like to hear a "Yes" - it really does NOT make any difference.

The reason for the dreaded "pooch" is not so much that the tummy muscles are "weak" but that they have been s t r e t c h e d from one another and allow a greater expansion of the tummy contents. Since no manner of exercises can correct the actual fault line "DIASTASIS" between the muscles to say nothing about probable stretching elsewhere along the circumference of the trunk, exercise will get the muscles toned but do nothing for the looseness.

I once did a tummy tuck on a woman who did 1,000 sit ups every day with her husband, a Marine fitness instructor. During surgery her muscles looked like a world champion body builder's but they were still greatly separated from the few pregnancies that she had.

Do what makes you happy.

Good Luck.

Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Strengthening abdominal muscles before tummy tuck

It will not make a significant difference in your result if you strengthen your abdominal muscles before having a tummy tuck procedure. The space between the muscles (diastasis) is what really needs to be addressed during the surgery. The muscles themselves do not have much impact on the fianl contour. Of course, the stronger your muscles, the stronger your abdominal wall will be and if you can get your percent body fat low enough, you'll have a better chance at having a six pack.

Best wishes,

Dr. Bruno

William Bruno, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 377 reviews

Abdominal exercises of no value before tummy tuck.


1) Most women who need a tummy tuck have a separation (diastasis) between their rectus muscles. This separation needs to be surgically repaired to get a flat stomach.

2) Abdominal exercises will not help this separation (there is no muscle there), and they could even make the separation wider.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Exercise beforeTummy Tuck Surgery?

Thank you for the question. 

Exercise certainly cannot hurt prior to your tummy tuck surgery.  On the contrary,  exercise will help you reach your goal weight  and be in the best condition possible (physically and emotionally)  prior to undergoing a major operation. You will be able to benefit from these physical and emotional “reserves after your operation.

Best wishes as you reach your goals.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Pre-operative muscle conditioning

Optimal muscle tone is a pre-requisite for optiimal body-contoruing results. Ths goes along with a patient being in a healthy, stable lifestyle prior to abdominoplasty. This includes good diet and a reasonable exercise routine. This would involve abdominal exercises for anyone contemplating a tummy tuck. If the patient is not doing exercises already, I usualy have them do 30 half situps or the equivalent, twice a day for three weeks before surgery.

Robin T.W. Yuan, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Strengthen your abdominal muscles before tummy tuck

Hi Jill,

Tummy tuck results can be spectacular in patients who have really worked on strengthening their abdominal wall muscles prior to surgery. Although ab exercises won't fix the diastasis (separation) often times present in women after pregnancy, they certainly add bulk and substance the abdominal wall muscles. When the muscle plication (tightening) is performed during tummy tuck, the results tend to be quite durable and long lasting.

Hope this helps. Best of luck.

Sam Jejurikar, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 92 reviews

Muscle Tightening prior to surgery

A tummy tuck operation consists of removing extra skin, tightening of the rectus "sheath" and placement of a new belly button. The rectus sheath is the firm tissue (fascia) covering the muscle...this is the tissue we as surgeons use to tighten your frame and hour-glass your figure. The muscles live underneath and, big or small, firm or loose, are only passangers as we pull the fascia maintaining your fitness is paramount as it will improve your recovery and results. I have patients wait at least 1 year after a tummy tuck to "strengthen" their muscles.

I hope this helps!

Dr. C

John Philip Connors III, MD, FACS
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Strengthening abdominal muscles before Tummy Tuck not necessary

While it is always nice to keep fit, strengthening your abdominal muscles just in preparation for tummy tuck is unnecessary. There is no specific advantage to doing this. The tummy tuck will tighten the fascia of your abdominal wall, not the muscles. The fascia is the strong tissue that holds your muscles together. You will do better by keeping yourself healthy and not changing your workout routine too much before surgery. If you are overweight, losing weight can be helpful. Good luck.

Parham Ganchi, PhD, MD
Wayne Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

No need to work on muscles before tummy tuck

There is nothing wrong with your muscles. After pregnancy, it is the fascia (the connective tissue that houses the muscles) that becomes lax. Also this is seen after major weight loss. All the exercise in the world will not fix the damage to this tissue. The surgery does nothing to the muscle, although the perception is that the operation "fixes" the muscle. In reality , the fascia is fixed, the muscle is left alone.


Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Abdominal Exercises Before Tummy Tuck

I often hear this question regarding any surgery and my advice is always the same. If the surgery is in the near term, say under 4 weeks, then it makes no sense to exercise the muscles. Drastically changing your routine is never smart before surgery. However, if surgery is later than this then it's okay to do mild exercises to strengthen the muscles. More importantly I think working the cardiovascular system is more important.

If you already have an exercise routine than continue it; make only the changes that you would normally make. Overall, you don't want to be dehydrated, sore or otherwise debilitated from the exercise.

Christopher L. Hess, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 33 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.