In today’s health-conscious society, it’s a safe bet that you know many people who spend a big chunk of their free time exercising. Many Americans now make yoga, running, spinning, and trips to the gym a part of their daily routines. According to CBS news, a recent study showed 54 million people in the U.S. have gym memberships, and 42% of those are for “boutique” gyms that focus on one activity, such as yoga, Crossfit, and barre.
But it’s not just health that drives people to work out; looking good is also a priority, and cosmetic surgery is more popular than ever. In the U.S. alone, more than 1.6 million procedures were done in 2014, according to a report from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons®. Among these 2 groups — exercise devotees and plastic surgery patients — there is a lot of overlap.
In addition to the obvious health benefits, exercise helps you stay slim and feel confident about your appearance. It makes sense that people who work hard to maintain a certain look would also consider cosmetic surgery if there was something about their bodies they wanted to change.
Unfortunately, while exercise and cosmetic enhancement seem to go hand in hand, they are at odds when it comes to one thing: recovery after surgery. Many active people find it difficult to forgo their routines in favor of rest after a procedure, but taking it easy is a key to ensuring good cosmetic results and even safety.
If you are considering a cosmetic procedure and are concerned about how it will affect your workouts, check out the tips below.
After Body Contouring
Fat reduction and muscle toning are among the most common goals of both active people and plastic surgery patients. Common cosmetic procedures that accomplish these goals are liposuction — typically the first or second most popular surgery in the U.S. — and tummy tuck surgery.
If you are thinking about liposuction, after surgery you will need to spend about a week resting. That means no activity more strenuous than a light walk. You need to keep your heart rate down while you heal to reduce swelling and the risk of complications. After a week, you can gradually resume more activity with your doctor’s guidance, but you need to take it slow. If you have liposuction on your midsection, skip the crunches for several weeks. If you have it on your thighs, jogging is not a good choice right away.
Find low-impact alternatives so you can maintain your cardio goals, but be extra protective of your treatment area. If you’re considering a tummy tuck, a very common choice for people who have lost a lot of weight and who have stretched abdominal skin, your break from activity needs to be a bit longer. Most surgeons suggest rest for 2 to 3 weeks because your abdominal muscles and your hip-to-hip incision need time to heal. Again, once you start gradually returning to exercise, skip the crunches and choose low-impact alternatives. Many patients choose brisk walks, elliptical workouts, spinning, or swimming (make sure your incision is fully healed before you get in a pool). Check out these tips from tummy tuck doctors on the popular plastic surgery forum RealSelf.
After Breast Surgery
Along with liposuction, the other surgery that vies for the top spot each year in the U.S. is breast augmentation. If you’re considering this procedure, you can expect the initial rest period to last about a week. Dr. Rocco Piazza, a breast augmentation specialist in Austin, offers this advice in a blog post: “After those first few days of R&R, you’ll want to get moving a bit, but be smart about it. Start by taking short walks. Be careful to limit arm movement and avoid bouncing (sorry, no running yet). Over the next couple of weeks, you’ll be ready to get back to the gym, but again, keep it low impact.”
If you’re considering a breast lift, another popular breast surgery, the guidelines are very similar. The same goes for breast reduction surgery, although most patients are pleased to find out that once they make it through the exercise restrictions of the first 2 or 3 months, their workouts will improve vastly. Those who avoided high-impact activities such as running or aerobics because of discomfort caused by overly large breasts often find that a whole new world of exercise choices is suddenly open to them.
Male breast reduction is also a common treatment among active people. Men with excessive breast tissue often try to reduce it through working out only to discover the problem requires a surgical solution. As with breast surgeries for women, patients should rest the first week, and then gradually get back to activity. The key to remember is to avoid chest exercises such as push-ups and bench presses, for about 2 months.
After Facial Surgery
Facial surgeries tend to break down into 2 main categories: anti-aging procedures and enhancement procedures. The guidelines are similar for both, with a few exceptions.Enhancement procedures include rhinoplasty and facial implants to augment the chin and cheeks. Patients who get these tend to be younger, usually in their 20s and 30s. After a week or 2 of rest, you can return to low- and moderate-impact exercise. Avoid any activities that might include contact with the face, such as basketball, racquetball, or tennis, for a couple of months.
Anti-aging procedures such as facelift, brow lift, and eyelid surgeries are, of course, more common among older individuals who tend to stick to lower-impact exercises. Most of the advice is the same as for younger people: After a week or 2 of rest, gradually begin a return to low-impact activity, and resume full activity after about 2 months. Older individuals should keep in mind any other conditions that might affect their health or recovery and discuss them with their surgeons.
No matter the plastic surgery you’re considering, the gist is to take it slow. Find low-impact exercises you enjoy so you can keep your cardio up, be sure you eat a nutritious diet that supports your healing and any weight-related goals you may have, and check with your surgeon for more specific guidelines.