I am about 4 1/2 weeks post-op for a tummy tuck with muscle repair and an umbilical hernia repair. I have been given the okay to resume light exercise. I have looked online to see if an elliptical is safe to use at this stage and have read that it is important not to exceed a heart rate of 135-140BPM until after week 6. I am curious as to why that is and what risk is involved if that should happen. Thank you very much.
Why is It Recommended Not Exceed Your Heart Rate Above 135 Bmp at 4 Weeks Post-op TT?
Doctor Answers 4
Exercise after tummy Tuck
Thank you for the question and congratulations on your recent tummy tuck surgery.
I am glad that you have been cleared for “light exercise”. In my opinion, pushing your heart rate to what you described would not be considered “light”. One of the concerns with returning to strenuous activity too some is the potential for increased swelling or fluid buildup. You may find also that after the major operation that you have had done that your conditioning has decreased- this may lead to problems such as lightheadedness and the potential for fall and/or injury.
I would suggest continued follow-up and compliance with your plastic surgeon's instructions (and avoid “too much information” that is available online).
Issues regarding elevated pulse rate after a tummy tuck
One of the reasons that there are (recommended) restrictions regarding the extent of activity that one can engage in following a tummy tuck is to minimize the risk for bleeding and the accumulation of blood (hematoma). An elevated pulse rate and blood pressure caused by vigorous activity can precipitate bleeding from blood vessels that haven't fully healed from surgery. Some plastic surgeons recommend waiting 3 weeks after surgery; others 4 - 6 weeks or more.
You should contact your plastic surgeon to obtain his/her recommendations.
Heart Rate Guidelines After Tummy Tuck
Plastic surgeons vary in their precise recommendations for return for activity after an abdominoplasty. I set an arbitrary guideline of a pulse no greater than 120 for the first 4 weeks, gradually increasing to pre operative baseline by 4 weeks. A fast heart rate can cause vessels to dilate which may predispose to bleeding or swelling. Its best not to invite an unnecessary complication by advancing activity too quickly. Invest some extra time in your recovery so as not to interfere with your result.
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Exercising 1 month After Tummy Tuck
A heart rate of 140 per minute is a function of one's aerobic conditionning. A person who exercises frequently would be engaging in much more strenuous effort to reach it than someone who does not exercise. As a result the heart rate is not a useful universal parameter of the intensity of an exercise and I disagree with the conclusion that it is "important not to exceed a heart rate of 135-140BPM until after week 6". I think most people can return to the gym after 4 weeks but I do not want my patients engaging in sit-ups or other exercises which may strain the muscle repair.
It is best to ask YOUR surgeon what he wants you to do.