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Will Yoga Help or Hurt My Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Posted December 11, 2023 in Tummy Tuck Surgery

We all know that yoga is one of the best things you can do for your physical and emotional health. However, while this strength exercise can tighten, tone, and firm your figure, it may not be the ideal activity during your tummy tuck recovery.  

Woman practicing yoga in her house. Performing an up-dog posture.
Asana yoga practices may not be beneficial to your tummy tuck recovery.

Tummy tuck surgery not only eliminates excess skin and tissue but also involves the manipulation of your core muscles. As anyone who has ever completed a yoga session can attest, your core is where your yoga power comes from. 

When it comes to your recovery after tummy tuck surgery, here are a few things you should keep in mind before engaging in any yoga practices post-surgery.

What to Know About a Tummy Tuck

You probably know that a tummy tuck is designed to shape your midsection by removing loose skin. However, a tummy tuck also involves tightening and repairing your abdominal muscles. Dr. Chin performs three types of tummy tucks:

  • A mini tummy tuck is for patients with loose skin, mainly in the lower abdominal area.
  • A modified tummy tuck removes more loose skin and tightens your lower ab muscles.
  • A full tummy tuck removes excess skin and tightens your abdominal muscles above and below your belly button.

No matter what type of tummy tuck you get, you’ll need to take it easy for a couple of weeks and avoid any strenuous exercise for about six weeks to allow yourself to heal.

Abdominal Repair During a Tummy Tuck

In addition to excess skin on the stomach, some women have ab muscle damage that necessitates repair. Diastasis recti is a condition in which the abdominal muscles in the center of your stomach separate, down the middle where the two sets of your “six pack” muscles meet. It can cause weakness in your core, back pain, and a tummy “pooch” that won’t go away with diet and exercise. Diastasis recti typically occurs during pregnancy because your muscles stretch to accommodate a growing baby. 

During your tummy tuck, your surgeon will stitch your weakened ab muscles back together, fastening them at the midline. This reinforces the muscles and helps pull them back to the correct position, eliminating the gap and restoring your core strength. 

Nearly 60% of women experience some degree of diastasis recti after pregnancy, and in some cases, it will resolve on its own. However, many ab-focused exercises can exacerbate the problem. Instead of strengthening your core, any moves pushing your abdominal wall outward can worsen diastasis recti.  

What Yoga Poses Should You Avoid During Your Tummy Tuck Recovery?

When most people think about yoga, they think of the practice’s physical postures (asana). Most asana positions switch between extension and contraction of the abdominal muscles—the muscles and tissues that are manipulated and repaired during a tummy tuck. Imagine the amount of stress that your abdomen experiences when you transition from downward dog to upward dog—and these are considered to be beginner or “relaxing” positions.

Any stretches after your tummy tuck incorporating deep bends should be avoided during the initial weeks of your recovery, as these strain the healing incisions and muscles too much. Additionally, any moves that require engaging your abs to support a pose should also be avoided. When it comes to yoga, that seems to eliminate every pose–so what yoga practice CAN you do during your tummy tuck recovery? 

What Yoga Practices Can You Incorporate Into Your Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Many people make the mistake of assuming that yoga is only about contorting your body into different bizarre and painful-looking positions. In truth, it is all about focusing on your body and improving your physical and emotional health, two things that are essential during your tummy tuck recovery. 

Even though you should limit your asana practices, you can—and should—still practice your yoga-centric breathing. Gentle movement is also encouraged, so walking at a moderate pace while focusing on a meditation or breathing exercise can help your body and mind during your recovery. Benefits of yoga breathing include:

  • Pranayama (controlled breathing techniques focusing on breath awareness) can provide benefits at any time, especially when your body is working so hard to heal itself. 
  • Deep breathing exercises help to purify the body, remove blockages, and increase blood circulation. 
  • Proper blood circulation reduces inflammation (swelling), accelerates the healing process, and reduces the risk of blood clots.
  • Anxiety can suppress your immune system, resulting in slower healing and even increased inflammation. Deep breathing can lower stress and reduce pain as you heal. 

When in doubt? Just breathe. 

When Am I Cleared to Resume Yoga?

Most tummy tuck patients find that they feel recovered enough to return to strenuous exercise—including yoga—after six weeks. However, just because you feel ready to resume your exercise routine doesn’t mean you should. Always get cleared by your surgeon before returning to more physically demanding activities. 

Also, keep in mind that just like after any other extended break from physical activity, you will want to ease into your practices slowly. You may not want to jump straight into an Ashtanga or Power Vinyasa class, but instead, start at a lower level and progress as you feel able. 

Remember, when you first started practicing yoga, you had to build up your strength slowly; this period after tummy tuck recovery is no different. With consistency and diligence, you will find that you can return to your usual yoga practices in what feels like no time. 

Learn More About Tummy Tuck Surgery in Fresno

Your body is extraordinary, and you deserve to feel strong and beautiful when you look in the mirror. A tummy tuck can help you improve your appearance and core strength, so what are you waiting for? To schedule a consultation with Dr. Mark Chin, call Valley Institute of Plastic Surgery at (559) 435-9646 or fill out our online contact form.