Does Exercise Help with Swelling?

I have had a tummy tuck with lipo of my back. I know it will be a few month before my swelling goes does down, but I would like to know if when i start to exercise again will my swelling subside or will it get worse?

Doctor Answers 13

Swelling and exercise after a Tummy Tuck

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My advice is to be up and walking as soon as  possible  following a Tummy Tuck. Walking is the best way to prevent blood clots (DVT) in your legs. 

If you have had a repair and tightening of the abdominal muscles during the abdominoplasty, you should avoid lifting and straining your abdominal muscles for about six weeks. At six weeks the internal scarring that suports the muscle repair is strong enough for exercise. Be certain to start slowly.

Swelling after liposuction takes about 6 weeks to 3 months to go down. The swelling after a Tummy Tuck takes longer to resolve. Swelling is fluid in your tissues; the fluid follows gravity and moves downward. After the Tummy Tuck, the incision acts like a dam and the fluid (swelling) backs up above the incision. Once the fluid channels reestablish themselves, the swelling goes away.

Follow your surgeons advice; don't hesitate to ask questions.

Richard L. Dolsky  MD

Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon

Does Exercise Help with Swelling

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Exercise, in general after any surgery, can increase swelling in the operated area.  That does NOT mean that you should not exercise, on the contrary.  Exercise helps with increasing blood flow to the tissues which helps with wound healing.  The amount and intensity of exercise should be discussed with your operating surgeon so that you do not do too much too soon.  Good luck!

Amy T. Bandy, DO, FACS
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 109 reviews

When to start exercise

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This is a question best decided on by you and your doctor.  Everyone is different in terms of when they let people workout.  A simple phone call to your doctor's office may answer the question and you could start on a gentle exercise program tomorrow. Good luck

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Swelling will return with exercise too soon after tummy tuck

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Tummy tuck has the longest recovery, especially with significant muscle repair and tightening, and exercise should be delayed a full four to six weeks after. Swelling and irritation will return if you push into exercise too soon, much like trying to run on a sprained ankle. You can walk and start slowly with low impact activities such as a recumbent bike which will take the stress off your back and abdomen. Whatever you do, if it causes discomfort or swelling, stop.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Swelling after surgery

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After the first week or so, it is good to get back to exercise.  Start slowly with just treadmill and then work yourself up to a normal routine.  The increased circulation and movement will be helpful.  If you had a tummy tuck / abdominoplasty, you should refrain from heavy lifting for the first 6 weeks was the internal stitches heal.


Good Luck.

Swelling May Increase Temporarily As Exercise Resumes

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In general, patients usually swell a little more whenthey resume activities again after liposuction.  When everything starts to move around a fair amount, it can cause some irritation and swelling transiently.  This is normal and nothing to be concerned about.  I recommend an ice pack 20 min on/off for a few hours after initial exercising if you notice some swelling. This should subside after a week or so of returning to your activities.  I hope this helps.

Swelling After Tummy Tuck

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If you exercise too early, you will most likely compromise your recovery, worsening swelling. However, I encourage all my patients to leisurely walk around after their surgery and remain active, rather than lying in bed all day. This will minimize the risk of deep clots in your leg veins and keep your circulation going, which will help with the swelling. But don't push yourself!

Your compression garment should also be worn to help with swelling.

Check With Surgeon Before Exercising after Tummy Tuck

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You did not state how far post-op you are, so it is difficult to comment on when it would be beneficial or safe to begin exercises.  However, I feel strongly that this a question that should address to your surgeon.  You and he/she have a vested interest in your recovery and you should trust him/her to advise you on this matter.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon

Take it slow

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Depending on your doctor's recommendation and your own post-op recovery-you may be able to start walking slowly on a treadmill after 7-10 days for a short period of time-meaning not to get to the point of sweating as that will cause increase in swelling. 

Edward J. Bednar, MD
Charlotte Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 144 reviews

Exercise and Post Surgery Swelling

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Once you are a several weeks past your surgery, it is generally safe to introduce limited exercise. Full tissue healing will not occur until 8 weeks so you will need to limit aggressive physical exercise until that time. Exercise does not increase swelling and in fact, may reduce swelling.

Carlin Vickery, MD (retired)
New York Plastic Surgeon

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.