It takes a different amount of time for everyone to recover from surgery. However, doctors generally recommend holding off on swimming for a while. The question is: how long should you wait before jumping in the pool again?
Swimming is a low-impact, high-intensity workout that puts minimal stress on the body. When swimming after surgery, it’s important to take proper precautions.
The thought of surgery can be scary, but researching the risk of post-surgery swimming is a good idea. Now let’s discuss the types of surgeries you may have and when you can start swimming after each one.
Can you Go Swimming with an Open Wound?
In short, no you should not go swimming with an open wound. Both in the pool and the ocean, you are at risk for infection. Always keep your open wound dry and onshore.
How Long After Surgery Can you Submerge in Water?
The waiting period varies based on a variety of factors. However, it comes down to three main ones.
- Your surgeon, family doctor, physiotherapist or medical teams confirms it is safe
- Your wound has COMPLETELY healed; your surgeon can tell you how long this will be
- Your wound is not painful anymore
Once your stitches have been removed or dissolved and the wound has completely healed, it will be safe to swim. Always avoid swimming with an open wound.
Stitches are usually removed within seven to 10 days after surgery. This heavily depends on the location and size of the wound. Swimming is an activity that should be avoided longer if you have a pre-existing condition that increases the risk of infection and delays healing.
How Do you Cover a Wound for Swimming?
Use waterproof plasters and bandages to cover wounds. This will protect them while swimming until they heal completely. Be sure to clean the wound before applying any bandages. Otherwise, bacteria trapped underneath can lead to an infection.
Plasters and bandages come in many sizes and shapes. So adjust according to what your wound looks like. When putting one on, make sure to put it on straight as wrinkles allow water and bacteria to get in.
Types of Surgeries – Is it Safe to Swim After Surgery?
Some surgeries have shorter wait times than others. Sometimes you might need to avoid swimming even after they have completely failed. Always check with a healthcare professional before swimming.
C-Section – All women are different. However, doctors usually recommend waiting six weeks after delivery before swimming. If you plan on swimming, wait until the bleeding has stopped and the scar has healed.
Cornea transplant – The eyes can be quite sensitive after surgery. Wait at least a month before swimming after a cornea transplant. After consulting with your doctor, wear goggles to protect your eye from injury and avoid diving.
Hip replacement– Wait anywhere from two to three months before swimming after a hip replacement. Avoid the breaststroke once you start swimming. This one puts the most pressure on the hips. Although swimming can help with reducing joint stress and increasing your range of motion.
Heart bypass – Three months is the appropriate wait time for swimming after a heart bypass surgery. Like with any surgery, it’s important to take precautions. Wait at least an hour after eating before hopping in the pool. Always start your workout at a lower intensity as well.
Cataract surgery– You can swim two weeks after this surgery, but with goggles. These ensure the eyes do not become infected again. A month of swimming with goggles is the best way to stay safe. At least two weeks should also be waited before going into hot tubs.
Appendectomy (for appendicitis) – 10 to 14 days is the reopening period wait time. If the wound heals earlier, you can start swimming sooner. Consult your doctor after having your stitches removed. This way you will know that your wound is healed and you are fully recovered.
Knowing when it is safe to swim after surgery can speed up your recovery time. Keep your incisions clean and avoid unsanitary water. This prevents secondary infection and additional scarring.
Mentally Prepare to Swim After Surgery
Being mentally prepared to swim after surgery is important. It matters as much as healing physically. Swimming is a sport that should be done mindfully and safely.
Be Patient – Remember to know the waiting period for swimming after your specific surgery. Your health always comes first. Rest after surgery and give your wounds time to heal. Swimming too soon risks another injury.
Stay Positive – Optimism during recovery is essential. Staying positive will help you overcome obstacles and get through tough days. Surgery is a setback, but sticking to your recovery plan will help the time go by faster.
Small Victories are Important – Celebrate small accomplishments as you recover. By setting and achieving personal goals, you gain confidence over time. Reward yourself with positive reinforcement and push yourself to be the best you can be.
Talk About It – Learn to overcome your fear by talking with someone you trust. Someone like an instructor, coach, rehab coach, friend or family member can offer advice. This will make sure you are comfortable in the pool.
Rehab – Undergoing rehabilitation can help you get back to being your old self again quicker. Hold yourself accountable by working with a trainer who has worked with swimmers with similar injuries. They have the proper training.