If I decide to have an operation for my aortic valve problems what are the top hospitals for this type of surgery in the US?
Your recovery depends on the type of surgery that most likely involves dividing your breast bone (sternum) to get to your heart. After the surgery, what needs healing is your sternum, about six weeks to three months, just like any other broken bone. If you lift weights in moderation, not to break the next world record, I see no reason why you should have any restriction.
Duke and Johns Hopkins come to mind as centers of excellence in your general area. It is difficult to pinpoint true excellence, my best advice to you is to look up the top 50 heart surgery, and find a surgeon you like personally. Most surgeons in places like that are well qualified to take care of problems like yours:
Hope this helps,