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 17

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.

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.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 134 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!

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.

John E. Gross, MD
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.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 45 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!

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 30 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.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 16 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.

Running a marathon after a tummy tuck

Absolutely not.  6 weeks to even think about doing anything strenuous, and then best to start slowly and listen to your body.  
Best of luck, Dr. Michael Omidi

An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Allow 6-8 Weeks to Recover

Recovery varies from patient to patient following abdominoplasty surgery.We generally recommend that patients avoid strenuous activity including running for at least 6 to 8 weeks following surgery.
Running in the immediate post-operative period has the potential to cause wound breakdown.The constant jolting of the incision which occurs with running can lead to a variety of complications.
It’s therefore important to go slow at first, and gradually resume your normal exercise program.This process may take several months.Make sure you listen to your body.If you’re not ready for a specific activity your body will let you know.

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.