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Exercise and Physical Activity After Mohs Surgery on the Face

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exercise after mohs surgery on face

Mohs surgery is a specialized technique often used to treat skin cancers occurring on visually sensitive areas like the face. During the procedure, thin layers of skin are precisely removed and examined until no cancer cells remain. This allows for complete removal of the skin cancer while maximizing preservation of healthy tissue.

Recovery and healing after Mohs surgery on the face requires extra care and precaution. An important consideration is when and how to resume exercise and physical activity after the surgery. This article explores common questions and guidelines around returning to exercise safely after facial Mohs surgery.

When Can I Resume Exercise and Physical Activity After Facial Mohs Surgery?

After Mohs surgery, an initial period of rest and limited activity is typically recommended to allow the surgical wound to begin healing. The exact time frame varies based on factors like the size and depth of the excision site. Small, superficial wounds may only require a few days of rest whereas larger or deeper excisions may warrant one to two weeks of minimal activity.

As the wound starts to heal and swelling and inflammation subside, light physical activity can gradually be introduced. This may include things like walking, gentle stretching or range-of-motion exercises. More strenuous exercise and strength training should be avoided until the excision site shows more advanced healing, which often takes at least four weeks. With larger wounds, the recovery timeline may be six weeks or longer.

Throughout your recovery, follow your surgeon's specific guidance on slowly increasing physical activity. Progress gradually and do not rush back to your normal exercise routine. Pay close attention to any discomfort or changes at the surgery site.

How Do I Avoid Risks and Complications When Exercising After Facial Mohs Surgery?

When resuming exercise after facial Mohs surgery, take steps to protect the sensitive surgical site:

  • Wear sunscreen, protective clothing and a wide-brim hat, even on cloudy days. Sun exposure can damage healing skin and cause scarring.
  • Consider using micropore tape, silicone strips or compression wear over the wound while active. This helps reduce movement and friction.
  • Avoid exercises with sudden head jerking motions that can strain stitches.
  • Temporarily modify activities like yoga or pilates that involve extreme facial contortions.

Watch closely for warning signs like bleeding, worsened swelling, bruising or changes in color, which may indicate the wound is being overtaxed. Reduce activity levels and follow up with your surgeon if any concerning symptoms arise.

What Precautions Should I Take When Exercising Outdoors After Facial Surgery?

Outdoor exercise like jogging or cycling raises additional considerations after facial Mohs:

  • Exercise early in the morning or later afternoon when UV rays are less intense.
  • Seek shady routes or trails to limit direct sun exposure on the healing wound.
  • Beware of potential irritation from sweat mixing with sunscreen near the incision site.
  • Avoid swimming in lakes, pools or the ocean until the surgery site is fully closed.
  • Be prepared to clean the area and reapply ointment after outdoor activity.

While sunshine provides vitamin D, gradually build up sun exposure over time. Follow your surgeon's advice on appropriate use of sunscreen versus clothing for protection.

How Can I Manage Pain and Discomfort When Exercising After Mohs?

As nerves regenerate and skin mends itself, some pain is expected. To help manage discomfort while active:

Adjustments to exercise technique and frequency can allow staying active while avoiding strain on the healing wound.

When Can I Resume My Normal Exercise Routine After Face Surgery?

The timeline for returning to more intense workouts depends on your recovery progress:

  • Aerobic activities like running may be possible around 6 weeks post-op. Talk to your surgeon.
  • Avoid sports with potential for facial impact like basketball for 2-3 months.
  • Weightlifting that significantly contracts facial muscles should be avoided for at least 6-8 weeks.
  • Get clearance before resuming yoga, dance or other exercise involving extensive facial stretching or posing.

Always check with your Mohs surgeon before progressing past light activity. Even after full clearance, remain cautious and wear sun protection when exercising. Monitor the site for any signs of trauma or damage from physical activity.

Conclusion: Working with Your Surgeon for Safe Exercise After Mohs

Recovering from Mohs surgery on the delicate facial area requires patience and diligence. Recognize your limits during healing and gradually increase activity under your surgeon's guidance. Protect the excision site from sun exposure and trauma, and report any concerning symptoms promptly. With proper precautions, you can safely remain active and return to your normal exercise routine.

FAQ About Exercising After Mohs Surgery on the Face

1. How soon can I exercise after facial Mohs surgery?

It is best to avoid any strenuous activity for at least 1-2 weeks after Mohs surgery to allow the surgical sites time to heal. Heavy lifting should also be prevented during this initial Mohs surgery recovery period to minimize risk of opening wounds or delaying the healing process.

2. What types of exercise should I avoid in the first days/hours after surgery?

In the first 24-48 hours immediately after facial Mohs surgery, no exercise of any kind should be done. Movement needs to be kept to a minimum to prevent tearing sutures or disrupting scabs forming over wounds where cancerous tissue was removed.

3. When can I resume my normal fitness routine?

Most patients can start light exercise like walking again after 1-2 weeks as long as wounds look fully epithelialized. More vigorous exercise introducing lifting, sweating or risk of impact/trauma should generally wait 3-4 weeks to ensure ample time for healing.

4. What are the risks if I exercise too soon?

Excessive strain too early in the recovery period can dislodge scabs, leading to delays in wound repair and a higher chance of infection. This impacts the cure rate as any remaining cancer cells have more opportunity to implant. It's always better to let the body fully recover each week after surgery.

5. How will I know it's safe to exercise more?

Listen to your body and check with your Mohs surgeon on their guidance. There should be no signs of infection or openings in the wound by 2 weeks. After 3-4 weeks with fully healed skin, moderate/normal exercise can resume with precautions against bacterial ingress at surgical sites for basal cell carcinomas.

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