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When Should I Have Surgery if I am a Bodybuilder?

By: Dr. Rolando Morales


When most people look at bodybuilders, they assume those men and women are pictures of health. In reality, bodybuilding is an unnatural sport that can actually put the body at a health deficit – particularly during “prep” season, the weeks and months leading up to a show. Because any kind of surgery takes its own physical and emotional toll on the patient, bodybuilders must plan their desired or required procedures carefully. According to board-certified plastic surgeon and award-winning bodybuilder Dr. Rolando Morales of Morales Plastic Surgery in Houston, TX, the number one rule for bodybuilders considering surgery of any kind is to wait until the off-season. Here, we’ll take a closer look at why.

When is the best time for a bodybuilder to have plastic surgery?

Athletes and bodybuilders often turn to cosmetic surgery to further enhance their physique and address problem areas that may not respond to diet and exercise. Some procedures, like breast augmentation (for female bodybuilders) and abdominal etching, are specifically used to help the patient achieve a more stage-ready look. For bodybuilders interested in any kind of surgery – whether cosmetic or medically necessary in nature – there are important considerations to keep in mind regarding the safest and most appropriate timing for the procedure. The most critical aspect of scheduling surgery for bodybuilders is to ensure they are physically and mentally fit enough to endure the strain that surgery will put on their minds and bodies – meaning the off-season is the best place to start.

Do I have to wait until the off-season to get surgery?

Yes. Unless it is an emergency, bodybuilders should never undergo surgery of any kind during their active training or stage prep phase. Believe it or not, most athletes are actually at their unhealthiest stage while preparing for a bodybuilding show due to the following:

  • Near-constant state of caloric deficit
  • Lack of sleep
  • Psychological stress
  • Physically overworked
  • Using a variety of supplements and/or performance-enhancing drugs

Of course, surgery during stage season is also discouraged for the obvious reason that most surgeries will require some recovery period, during which time patients are typically prohibited from heavy lifting and strenuous physical activity.

How soon can I get back in the gym after surgery?

The answer to this will depend heavily on a number of factors, including what type of surgery was performed. In almost all cases, however, there will be restrictions on physical activity and exercise for some length of time. For healthy men who have a fairly minimal procedure, such as gynecomastia correction, it may be possible to begin light lifting again after just 3 – 4 weeks. A female bodybuilder undergoing breast augmentation, on the other hand, may need to wait up to 6 – 8 weeks before starting to exercise again.

Questions about having surgery as a bodybuilder? We have the answers

As a bodybuilder himself, top Houston, TX board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Rolando Morales has a unique understanding of how to best time your surgery so that your body can recover as efficiently as possible with the least interruption to your season. If you’re approaching your off-season and have been thinking about cosmetic surgery, now may be the right time. For more information on safe plastic surgery for bodybuilders, call Morales Plastic Surgery to schedule your consultation today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.