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 do so
  • 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 you should get your wound wet, see Is it better to have a bath or shower after surgery?

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.

  • cornea transplant – avoid swimming for at least one month and until you have clear advice it's safe; wear goggles to protect your eye from an impact injury and do not dive in
  • hip replacement – you should feel back to normal after the first 8 to 12 weeks, when you can return to your usual activities, such as swimming, but some surgeons advise against breaststroke when swimming
  • slipped disc operation (lumbar decompressive surgery) – you are advised not to go swimming for a few weeks until your wound heals
  • heart bypass surgery – you can swim after three months 
  • cataract surgery – you may be able to swim wearing goggles after two weeks, and without goggles after four weeks 
  • appendectomy (after having appendicitis) – you can swim from around 10 to 14 days afterwards, or until the wound has fully healed

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

Read the answers to more questions about operations, tests and procedures.

Further information:

Page last reviewed: 27/04/2014

Next review due: 26/04/2016