If you are wondering just how long you’ll be out of action after liposuction, the answer is, it depends. If you’ve had extensive liposuction, you’ll be recovering for longer than if you’ve had just a little.
You can usually return to your normal life pretty quickly after liposuction, but there are special considerations when it comes to exercise. At ENRICH Clinic, Dr Michael Rich, our liposuction expert, will fill you in on what you can and can’t do at your appointment.
Here’s the general gist of it.
Healing after liposuction
If you consider what’s your body has undergone – the removal of some of the infrastructure of your body, fat – then you can conceptualise the repair required under the skin. Exercising too soon, especially vigorous exercise, can affect the healing process.
Light physical activity is usually no problem and is encouraged a few days post-surgery; however, ‘light’ means hanging out the washing and ducking into the supermarket. It does not mean jogging around the block or doing aerobics.
Keeping your circulation flowing is important, but stressing your healing tissue is not the goal – moving blood and lymph is. (Lymph is the fluid that accumulates when a part of you swells up.)
The more fat you’ve had removed, the longer it will take for you to get back to your normal activities.
How to start working out again after liposuction
You should start at about 25 per cent of what you’re used to, and work your way up from there.
Exercise schedule after liposuction surgery
- Listen to your body!
- Avoid certain exercises around the treatment area, where there is bruising and incisions
- Within two days – start with light aerobic exercise (mainly walking)
- Working out – start slow and gentle, low intensity
- About two weeks – return to resistance exercise, start slowly, work up to your usual sessions over weeks
- About three weeks – return to high-impact aerobic exercise (running, gym classes)
- Working out at full steam ahead after about six weeks post-surgery with your doctor’s blessing
When exercise goes bad post-liposuction
Listen to your body – if it feels bad or the wounds start leaking, then stop. If you have any pain, discomfort or abnormal drainage that occurs as a result of resistance training, you need medical attention. Call your clinic, and if it’s at night or on the weekend, call the 24-hour support nurse. If it seems urgent, call emergency services or go to a hospital.
What can happen if you exercise too much too soon
You may worry that if you don’t keep up your exercise routines, you’ll lose your working out mojo and body condition. The problem is, exercising can cause even more swelling and discomfort, which in turn will take even longer to heal.
If you can get back to exercise quickly, do lighter workouts for the first month and avoid running, cycling or dancing. Opt instead for light, weight-based workouts. Avoid using specific gym machines that will cause pulling around the treatment area.
Talk to your practitioner about your options before you start engaging exercise and get the all-clear or further instructions on what you can and can’t do.
Signs you’ve gone too far:
- Cramping during workouts
- Pain in the treatment area
- Bleeding from incision wounds
- Leaking from incision wounds
- Feeling light-headed or dizzy while working out
Caring for your liposuction treatment
You will want to aim to keep a healthy weight after liposuction treatments, since gaining weight can cause more visceral fat to develop around your internal organs. Your body may try to overcompensate for the fat removed.
There is some evidence that with regular exercise after liposuction surgery, visceral fat is less likely to accumulate. Exercise and a healthy lifestyle are more important than ever after liposuction.
Why liposuction isn’t a weight-loss tool
It might seem tempting to book in and get your weight problem suctioned away, but this isn’t how liposuction works. High volume liposuction comes with extra risks, including a general anaesthetic, so liposuction is safest and most useful as a body sculpting tool.
Liposuction removes fat cells forever, and those fat cells won’t ever grow back. Keep in mind that fat cells shrink and expand depending on their contents.: one fat cell can hold many units of fatty acids inside it, and these fatty acids come and go as your body demands.
The hormonal instructions for this fat exchange don’t change just because you got some fat cells removed. Post-liposuction, the body continues to hormonally do as it’s told: to store or use fat as required.
If you remove fat, the body will try to maintain balance and may try to store more – unless it gets instructions not to, which comes from exercise and diet signals.
If you don’t manage your diet and exercise after liposuction and gain weight, fat will accumulate elsewhere. This fat often shows up around your internal organs as visceral fat, which is unhealthy fat. What’s more, those who don’t do regular exercise after liposuction tend to be less satisfied with their results.
A regular exercise regime and a nutritious diet are essential to keep visceral fat at normal levels. It doesn’t mean your liposuction ‘hasn’t worked’; it just means that your new shape comes with a caveat: take care of yourself.
When used for smaller areas of targeted body shaping, liposuction shines. Liposuction can trim, tighten and tone, and improve the way you feel about your body. Exercise and a healthy diet will only add to your body satisfaction.
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