When can I return to the gym after a facelift?

Dr. Dean Kane Q & A Time Ticking Q. I had a facelift and upper eyelid surgery done a week ago. Is it okay for me to go to the gym to just do cardio for 20-30 minutes? If not, why? When can I go back and start doing cardio and weights again? A. This is a universal concern and very reasonable question for all patients to understand. There is a dynamic and similar course of healing everyone goes through following surgery or an injury. Physiologically, any incision or puncture of the skin will cause bleeding and bruising. The length of the incision and amount of lift or undermining determine the magnitude of the healing to occur. More surgery means more bruising, swelling and potential side-effects or complications but the healing time is similar and that is because the “army” of healing cells and scar formation is the same for any injury. Please anticipate:
  1. Swelling and bruising for 10 days to 3 weeks
  2. Potential bleeding complications and incision concerns during the first 3 weeks
  3. Under the skin firming, lumpiness and irregularity during the first 3 months
I separate 2 levels of activity for my patients.
  1. ADL: activities of daily living; what you need to get by with daily rituals such as hygiene, breathing exercises and mobility. No stooping or bending and no lifting over 2 pounds as any increased activites may generate more swelling or bleeding. ADL’s for the first 3 weeks.
  2. Exertion: starting to do more than what is required such as exercise, sex or pulling and lifting suitcases. After 3 weeks.
  3. Olympic activities after 6 weeks.
While most of your swelling, bruising and incision concerns such as separation of the incision or infection have passed after 3 weeks, you can expect  a roller coaster of swelling, ebbing and flowing according to position, exertional activity, medical background, emotions and other factors. Each patient and each physician interpret their changes and findings differently. Return to your treating physician and discuss what is best for you. All the best!
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