How to Maintain an Active Lifestyle After Breast Augmentation Surgery
Breast augmentation surgery is one of the most common plastic surgical procedures that enhances the size, shape, or lift of the breasts to achieve an individual’s ideal silhouette. For many physically active individuals who may have a low body mass index, breast implants are helpful for attaining a shapely physique without gaining weight or compromising physical activity.
As with any medical procedure, exercise after breast augmentation surgery may need to be modified, limited, or temporarily abstained from in some cases. An experienced board-certified plastic surgeon can inform you of the safest exercises after breast augmentation surgery based on your current activity level, body type, and implant type.
The importance of exercise after breast augmentation surgery
Exercise after breast augmentation is not just for individuals with high activity levels prior to surgery. In fact, exercise is recommended for any individual undergoing breast augmentation to help support the body’s natural healing process. The key is to listen to your body and exercise safely in accordance with guidance from your plastic surgeon, especially in the first few weeks after breast augmentation surgery.
Exercising after surgery may reduce the risk of post-surgical complications by supporting optimal blood flow in your body, which helps to prevent blood clots. Strong blood flow also distributes high levels of oxygen throughout your organs and tissues, which may speed up the healing process.
Additionally, exercise helps individuals maintain their body weight. An increase in body weight after a breast augmentation procedure can impact the aesthetic results of surgery by making breasts appear larger than anticipated.
The risks of resuming exercise too quickly after breast augmentation surgery
Breast implants can either be placed above the pectoral muscles (called subglandular placement) or below them (subpectoral or submuscular placement). Most individuals have breast implants placed below the pectoral muscles because this option minimizes the development of scar tissue and is less likely to shift over time.
When implants are placed using the subpectoral technique, a capsule forms around the implant during the healing process. If individuals use their pectoral muscles frequently through strenuous activities before this capsule forms, the breast implants could move in the chest wall. If breast implants shift out of position, a breast implant revision might be required to attain the desired aesthetic results.
While physical activity is generally recommended after breast augmentation surgery, activity must be limited initially to preserve the surgical results. Exercising too vigorously in the days immediately following surgery can cause sutures at the surgical site to tear and lead to an infection or a buildup of blood or fluid.
Starting slow: Recommended activities in the early stages of recovery
Many factors may impact what exercises are appropriate after breast augmentation, including:
- The type and size of implant selected
- The location of the incision
- The technique used during surgery
- Your pre-surgical weight
- Your regular level of physical activity
While individuals who were active prior to surgery typically heal faster from the procedure, they may also be at a greater risk of prematurely resuming strenuous physical activity based on their habits and a desire to return to their routines.
To establish a customized activity plan after a breast augmentation procedure, work with your plastic surgeon. In general, the following guidelines after breast augmentation can support the healing process while minimizing the risk of injury:
1–2 days after breast augmentation
Because lifting is restricted after breast augmentation, it is recommended to have a supportive individual stay with you for the first 24–48 hours after surgery to help you dress, cook, bathe, and perform childcare. During this time frame, walking around your home is encouraged to prevent post-surgical blood clots, but keep your heart rate low to avoid stressing your incision site.
1 week after surgery
After the first week, lower-body exercises like walking or light use of a stationary bicycle may be appropriate. Lifting should be restricted to objects weighing less than 10 pounds during this period. Additionally, any activities that use your pectoral muscles, like tennis, golf, or some yoga poses, should be avoided.
Outdoor activity should be limited to the cooler parts of the day to help prevent excessive sweating, since sweat can cause an infection at the incision site.
2–4 weeks after surgery
Many individuals begin to feel fully healed between 2–4 weeks after surgery, but activity should still be restricted during this period. Generally, it is recommended to perform any physical activity at half the intensity you would prior to surgery.
Core exercises and more strenuous lower-body exercises, like squats or lower-body strength training, may be resumed between 2–4 weeks after breast augmentation. An elliptical trainer could be used without the arm attachment.
Vigorous or repetitive activities like running, weight lifting, swimming, or pushups should not yet be resumed. Continue to avoid any activities that involve bouncing, like jumping or burpees.
4–6 weeks post-surgery
For most individuals, upper body exercises or arm workouts may be appropriate starting around four weeks after surgery. Activities that involve bouncing, like jogging, can also be resumed during this time.
The capsule which surrounds the implant generally forms around one month after surgery, making this a safe time to resume more strenuous activity. However, upper body weight training should still be minimized unless your plastic surgeon recommends otherwise.
6–8 weeks after surgery
Starting at six weeks and continuing into the months after surgery, most individuals can resume their full activity levels. Arm workouts and chest exercises like bench presses and weight lifting are typically safe by this point.
Gradual progression: Building up your activity level over time
When recovering from breast augmentation surgery, listen to your body as you gradually increase your activity level. Discontinue any activities that cause pain or strain to your upper body, even if your plastic surgeon reduces your restrictions.
The change in breast size may cause your normal everyday activities to feel different at first. In particular, activities that involve bouncing, balance, or upper body range of motion may take some getting used to with your new breast size. Modified activities, like using a stationary bike instead of jogging or performing planks instead of push ups or weightlifting, can help you feel more comfortable as you adjust to your new breasts.
Additionally, replacing old sports bras with ones that are professionally fitted to your new chest can help you exercise more comfortably. Sports bras should have wide back and shoulder bands to reduce pressure on your back and chest.
Set realistic goals and track your progress
Most individuals are able to resume full activity levels within a few months after breast augmentation surgery.
If you have specific fitness goals, like participating in competitive sports, discuss them with your plastic surgeon prior to your procedure. Depending on your exercise goals, your plastic surgeon may recommend a particular size of implant, procedure type, or incision site.
Help your body heal through exercise
It is possible—and even recommended—that patients stay active through the healing process from plastic surgery. If you are wondering whether it is safe to exercise after breast augmentation, an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon can give you personalized insight depending on your goals.