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Physiotherapy and Plastic Surgery

What exactly is plastic surgery? And how exactly can a physiotherapist help? 

There are 2 types of plastic surgery; reconstructive plastic surgery and cosmetic plastic surgery. 

The Australian Society of plastic surgeons describes reconstructive plastic surgery as the improvement of bodily function and performed on abnormal structures of the body caused by congenital defects, developmental abnormalities, trauma, infection, tumors or disease (Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2022).

Cosmetic surgery is the surgical intervention focusing on improving a person’s aesthetic appearance by altering or reshaping a bodily feature (Australian Society of Plastic surgeons, 2022). 

Some examples of plastic surgery are breast surgeries, tummy tucks, gastric banding, and rectus abdominus repairs. 

What is a tummy tuck? A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, is the surgical removal of excess skin or fat in the lower abdomen. 

What about Gastric banding? Gastric banding is a weight loss surgical procedure where a silicone band is placed in the upper part of the stomach to reduce the size of the stomach and decrease food intake. 

And a Rectus abdominus repair, what is that? This procedure is to repair the large abdominal muscle down the front that runs from your ribs to your pelvis. This surgery is usually completed for the following reasons: 

  • Complete tear of the rectus abdominis muscle 
  • Severe abdominal trauma 
  • Cancer 
  • Abdominal hernia 
  • Severe separation of the abdominal muscles during pregnancy

For information about breast surgeries, please see our blog on breast cancer and breast surgery

So how can my physio help prior to my plastic surgery operation?  

Physiotherapy and exercise physiology assists with improving strength, range of movement and cardiovascular function prior to the surgery. Additionally, clinicians can provide pain management strategies. Access to a physiotherapist and exercise physiologist prior to surgery increases the likelihood of a patient’s positive outcomes post surgery and tend to have a better return to previous function sooner than those who do not complete “prehab”.   

Why do I need to see a physio post-operation? 

Physiotherapy post-operation assists with managing the following: 

  • Respiratory complications 
  • Pain management 
  • Abdominal and upper limb strengthening 
  • Postural education 
  • Cardiovascular function 
  • Exercise tolerance and return to activities of daily living 
  • Risk factors such as Hernias, blood clot formation, doming and pressure bellies. 

Like all surgeries, your surgeon will want to restrict your movement to ensure that the body heals properly. Your physiotherapist will correspond with your surgeon to ensure that the prescribed exercises suit your current function and your doctor’s recommendations for optimal healing.

Research indicates that exercise is essential to start on day 1 post-operation, regardless of the surgery to enable the patient to achieve optimal outcomes. 

For more information, send us an email or book in with one of our therapists. If you are wondering if physiotherapy can help with a different type of plastic surgery, feel free to send us an email or call to talk to one of our physiotherapists. 





Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2022. [online] Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 July 2022]., 2022. Rectus Abdominis Repair – Abdominals – Surgery – What We Treat – [online] Available at: <,internal%20obliques%20and%20external%20obliques.> [Accessed 15 July 2022].


*All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.
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