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Post-Cosmetic Surgery Recovery 101: How TCM Can Help

Engaging in moderate physical activity can help your body recover from a cosmetic surgery procedure. However, exercising too soon after a procedure can provoke the onset of complications.

Healthcare provider examining a woman’s breasts as she sits up in a white chair

We can’t deny that body image relates directly to self-esteem. One of the ways some people resort to attaining attractive facial features or a sexy physique is to use cosmetic surgery. The procedure involves invasive and non-invasive methods that reshape body structure to enhance appearance and boost confidence.

Read on to discover how to care for your body after surgery if you are choosing this route. In doing so, you may be able to accomplish your desired #bodygoals without suffering complications.

Get Moving, but Take it Slow

Woman performing an abdomen-specific exercise on a grey yoga mat
Abdominal exercises can only be included in your routine five weeks after a cosmetic surgery procedure.

Physical activity promotes blood circulation and reduces swelling, thus helping your body recover completely. As a rule of thumb, refrain from exercising within 48 hours after a procedure.

If you have undergone liposuction, you can start exercising within three weeks after the procedure. Keep in mind that swelling can impair your range of movement. Avoid activities that put pressure on affected areas.

Start including jogging or abdominal exercises in your routine six weeks after surgery.

A procedure like a breast implant surgery requires more upper body rest. Refrain from weight training, push-ups, or other exercises that target your chest and back during the first four to six weeks after surgery. It’ll help lower the risk of overstressing your torso. However, you can start training your arms and lower body during this period.

Likewise, wait until after four weeks to resume cardiovascular exercises if you’ve undergone a facelift. 

Say No to Smoking or Vaping! 

In cosmetic surgery, a surgeon makes lateral incisions to enable a more accurate repositioning of tissue. The method also requires the severing of blood vessels. However, it’s only considered safe if you have healthy blood vessels.

Stay away from cigarettes after cosmetic surgery or quit smoking altogether. Do note that abstinence can provoke the onset of withdrawal symptoms, which may prolong over an unspecified duration. 

Alternative Remedies that Support Recovery from Cosmetic Surgery 

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sees all types of surgery as invasive and impairing the circulation of blood and qi (vital life force) in the Spleen and Kidneys.

“A weak Spleen due to poor blood and qi circulation will prevent food from being digested and nutrients to be fully absorbed. Consequently, a person may experience fatigue, muscle weakness, or a poor appetite. Kidney weakness will see a person having body aches and lack of strength in the limbs,” explains Real Health TCM Physician Kelvin Goh.

Because of this, TCM treatments post-surgery aim to speed up recovery by improving blood and qi circulation. In addition, it’ll help lower the risk of fluid accumulation in the skin, formation of keloids, and tissue damage. 

Herbal ingredients

A ceramic mug containing a herbal decoction displayed alongside jujubes on a wooden table, bowl, and cup
Jujubes can help speed up your recovery after cosmetic surgery by nourishing your blood.

Upon diagnosis, a TCM practitioner may recommend using astragalus (huang qi, 黄芪), atractylodes (bai zhu, 白术), and poria mushroom (fu ling, 茯苓) to invigorate qi.  

They will usually suggest Chinese Angelica root (dang gui, 当归), Rehmannia (shu di, 熟地), and red dates (hong zao, 红枣) to nourish blood.

Physician Goh recommends the following astragalus and red date tea recipe that can be made at home. It can improve qi, nourish blood and aid in wound healing. 


  • 9 grams astragalus 
  • 3 pieces red dates, seeds removed 
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar 

Place all ingredients in a kettle and pour in 800 millilitres of water. Boil for 20 minutes and enjoy.


Physician Goh suggests pre-operation acupuncture administered by a licensed acupuncturist as it’ll help calm the mind and relax the body, hence improving the immune system. This will encourage a patient to recover faster after cosmetic surgery. 

Post-cosmetic surgery acupuncture treatment can accelerate the healing process by strengthening the organ systems and encouraging better blood and qi circulation. It’ll also induce a calming effect on the mind and body and fortify the immune system. 

Proper healing after cosmetic surgery is necessary for an ideal outcome. Speak to a licensed TCM practitioner before supporting the recovery process with alternative remedies. It’ll lower the risk of complications and ensure that you use the right herbs for your unique body constitution.


  1. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Cosmetic Procedures. [online] [Accessed on 28 September 2022] 
  2. West Lake Dermatology. EXERCISING AFTER LIPOSUCTION: WHAT TO EXPECT + FAQ’S. [online] [Accessed on 28 September 2022] 
  3. Dr Puneet Gupta. EXERCISE AFTER LIPOSUCTION. [online] [Accessed on 28 September 2022] 
  4. Edina Plastic Surgery. 2021. EXERCISE AFTER BREAST AUGMENTATION SURGERY. [online] [Accessed on 28 September 2022] 
  5. Dr Scott J Turner, Specialist Plastic and Cosmetic Surgeon. 2022. Exercising after Facelift Surgery. [online] [Accessed on 28 September 2022] 
  6. North Raleigh Plastic Surgery. Quitting Smoking & Vaping Before Plastic Surgery. [online] [Accessed on 28 September 2022] 
  7. HelpGuide. How to Quit Smoking. [online] [Accessed on 28 September 2022] 

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