Although recognized as a low-impact sport, swimming is a relatively poor choice in activity after surgery. If you’re bound in a cast or stitched up, the water can soften the materials and reduce their efficacy. Worse, if you still have an open wound, you risk infecting it underwater. This includes public pools, fresh water lakes, oceans and even tubs.
Everyone recovers at a different pace, so you should consult your doctor before jumping into the water. Generally, it is okay to swim once the stitches come out or dissolve, which can be one to two weeks after the procedure. Any post-operation soreness should also be taken into consideration.
Example Surgeries and Their Risks
Different surgeries will require longer or shorter amounts of time to recover. For example, if you recently underwent knee surgery, then looking just at the stitches isn’t enough. Sometimes, it can take up to 12 weeks before swimming becomes low-risk because strokes like the breaststroke rely on the flexibility of the legs and knees to propel the body forward. Such stress can damage the incision area and the tissues underneath.
Likewise, swimming after cosmetic surgery can stretch fresh scars or change the settled results of the surgery. Submerging the body can also gradual increase its blood pressure and threaten internal bleeding. Like most other surgeries, such risks depend on where the surgery occurred. If primarily above the neck, then slipping into the shallow end can be safe.
Understandably, it is very much so a case-by-base basis for swimming after surgery. But even once given permission from your physician, try to ease back into the activity to prevent reinjuring yourself.