How active should I be after thoracic surgery?

It depends. If a patient had minimally invasive surgery versus a more traditional open surgery, activity will still be somewhat limited, but not for as long. Most patients can return to normal activity after about three weeks. In the first three weeks I want patients to take it easy. Don’t do anything too strenuous and no lifting anything more than 10 pounds. I do want them to remain active, though. Walk, don’t sit around. You can resume normal activity like driving or sexual activity after about three weeks. If it’s a bigger surgery, you’re probably looking at more like four to six weeks of limited activity.

Dr. Daniel P. O'Hair, MD
Cardiothoracic Surgeon

After thoracic surgery, stay active. Walk frequently. You will become fatigued easily at first but will regain strength by sticking with it and increasing activity over time. Your goal is 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily—walking, stationary bike or other similar activity.

Initially, you may have shortness of breath with activity. This should steadily improve over time.

You can return to work as soon as you are comfortable doing so. For some surgeries, you may have a lifting restriction.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.