Returning to Exercise Post Top Surgery

If you are considering chest reconsruction top surgery, formerly referred to as FTM top surgery, it is important to understand the post-operative care involved for a successful outcome. In this article, we provide information on the physical limitations during your top surgery recovery period, including when you can return to work and when it is safe to resume exercise and weightlifting. Our team is here to support you on your gender confirmation surgery journey so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any questions or concerns.

It is important to remember that chest reconstruction top surgery is a major surgical procedure. This means you will need time to rest and recover before going back to  work, exercise, and your normal routines. Following The Gender Confirmation Center’s post-surgical instructions is a good way to ensure a safe and successful recovery.

Physical limitations during recovery

Initiate light activities like walking as soon as you can post-surgery, as these will foster your healing process. Nevertheless, during the initial 1-10 days of recovery, avoid any strenuous activities – including sexual intimacy – or lifting anything beyond 10 lbs (roughly the weight of a half-gallon of milk). This is because excessive physical exertion can raise your heart rate and blood pressure, potentially leading to increased swelling and other complications.

From the 10th day to the 3rd week after surgery, you’re encouraged to gradually intensify your lower body activities, encompassing more demanding tasks, all without weight restrictions. Once past the 3-week threshold, there should be no constraints on your activities.

Still, if your profession involves significant physical responsibilities (such as being an in-patient mental health worker who may need to restrain patients), it’s advised to postpone your work resumption.

When can I return to work?

If you have a sedentary job, you should be able to resume work within 7-9 days of surgery. If your job requires a lot of physical activity, you will be required to take additional days off from work or modify your normal daily activities.

In most cases, your employer is required to grant you enough time off for a safe recovery. Your surgeon can provide you with written documentation you can provide to your employer to state that you need time off from work. This note will not include any confidential information about you or your surgery or other medical information.

Resuming moderate-to-heavy lifting

It is recommended that patients who wish to participate in weight lifting and chest exercises do so only after they have fully recovered from their chest reconstruction top surgery. These chest-centric exercises can further enhance your chest’s contour.

Your surgeon will offer personalized post-operative instructions. However, generally between 10 days to 3 weeks after surgery, you’re encouraged to increase your lower body activities and exertion levels. Beyond the 3-week point, there should be no limitations unless you notice scar pulling. In such cases, ease up slightly but aim to regain full shoulder mobility by the 6-week mark.

For bodybuilders or others who regularly engage in heavy lifting and have undergone a double incision chest reconstruction top surgery, it’s advisable to consult with their surgeon regarding when they can anticipate returning to heavy lifting activities.