Stitches are frequently used to close wounds resulting from Mohs surgery, excisions, or other skin-related surgical procedures. To help promote healing of your stitches and minimize scarring and the risk of complications, you should follow your doctor’s post-operative care instructions. In addition to basic wound care, it can be helpful to know your limitations as the area heals.
Take a look at some of the details below for how getting stitches may affect your ability to exercise, stretch, or do other activities.
The area where you’ve gotten stitches will affect the types of activities you can do. Light activities like walking are usually fine when recovering, and shouldn’t affect your wound healing. However, strenuous activities like heavy lifting should be avoided. For at least the first week after surgery, you should try not to get your heart rate up. For surgery on a lower extremity, it’s best to keep the limb elevated as much as possible. It can also be helpful to wrap the limb with a compression wrap, as this can promote optimal healing. While you should avoid rigorous activities, Dr. Adam Mamelak, our dual board-certified dermatologist, encourages patients, especially elderly individuals, to still remain lightly active, with regular walking or light biking.
Can I Work Out After Getting Stitches?
To encourage proper wound healing, patients should avoid unnecessary pressure on the area, as this can cause stitches to separate which could lead to possible infection. Focusing on rest and relaxation is typically recommended after getting stitches.
Can I Lightly Stretch or Do Yoga if I Have Stitches?
Stretching as well as yoga practice can put strain on the skin, causing it to stretch and tug on the stitches. While yoga can be a great wellness activity, it is typically best to avoid this activity, or even light stretching, after getting stitches to prevent excess pressure on the wound.
Is Swimming Okay with Stitches?
Swimming can be a great low-impact way to exercise, but if you have stitches, it may be best to wait to go into the water. This is because the act of swimming can put tension in the skin. It is recommended to avoid going in hot tubs or whirlpool baths for at least 1 week after surgery, and natural bodies of water (e.g., lakes, oceans, etc.) should be avoided until the stitches are completely removed.
When Can I Return to Normal Activities After Stitches?
The recovery after getting stitches will vary for different patients based on the area of the wound and their progress with healing. Dr. Mamelak says most patients can get back to their normal activities about 2 to 3 weeks after their surgery. However, he notes that patients should discuss their plans with their surgeon, detailing what activities they are anxious to resume. Ideally, patients would communicate this with their surgeon before their procedure to make sure the surgery doesn’t interfere with anticipated athletic events.
If you have any questions about surgical skin procedures and how to ensure you heal well throughout your recovery, please contact us to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mamelak!