Common Health Questions

How soon can I go swimming after surgery?

It depends on what type of surgery you’ve had, but you should not go swimming until:

  • your surgeon, GP or physiotherapist has confirmed that it’s safe for you to go swimming
  • your wound has healed, as it should not be submerged under water

Caring for your wound

You should ask your surgeon how long your wound will take to heal. For more information on whether your wound can get wet, see Is it better to have a bath or shower after surgery?

You can buy waterproof covers to go over your arm or leg, which you may be able to wear when swimming. Ask the healthcare professionals treating you for more information, and always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Types of surgery

Depending on what type of surgery you’ve had, you may be advised to avoid swimming for some time, even after your wound has healed. Below are some examples of what might be advised, but your surgeon, GP or physiotherapist will be able to give you a more detailed answer.

These are only guidelines. You should check with the healthcare professionals treating you before going swimming.

Swimming for rehabilitation

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise.

Swimming a few lengths gently can strengthen your muscles without putting too much strain on your body. If you pick up the pace, swimming can also be a good aerobic activity and: 

  • strengthen your heart
  • lower blood pressure
  • improve circulation

You may be advised to go swimming as part of your rehabilitation programme after surgery. For example, if you may be advised to swim if:

  • you’ve had heart surgery, to reduce your risk of further coronary heart disease
  • you’re recovering from a sports injury 

Check with your GP or physiotherapist before starting a new exercise programme.

See our Health A-Z topic about exercise for more information on rehabilitation and exercise programmes.

Last Updated: 19 September 2013