Safely Resuming Exercise after Breast Augmentation
Breast augmentation surgery marks a significant step in many women’s lives. Whether for cosmetic enhancement or reconstructive purposes, the decision to undergo this surgery comes with a responsibility to properly manage the recovery process. The period following surgery is as important as the procedure itself, as it ensures the longevity and success of the results. One of the most frequent questions patients have is about reintegrating exercise into their daily routine after breast augmentation surgery. Knowing when and how to safely resume physical activity is important for a smooth recovery and optimal outcomes.
The journey to recovery post-breast augmentation varies from person to person. Typically, the process can be segmented into several phases, spanning the immediate days after surgery to several months later. Initially, the focus is on healing and managing discomfort. Over time, the priority shifts towards regaining mobility and returning to normal activities, including exercise. It’s important to note that while there’s a general framework, each individual’s recovery timeline can differ based on personal health and the specifics of their surgery.
In this blog, Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anca Breahna shares her expert advice on safely resuming exercise after breast augmentation surgery.
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Phases of Exercise Post-Surgery: Phase 1 (Immediate Post-Surgery)
In this phase, your main focus should be on rest and limiting movement to ensure proper healing. It’s important to understand which activities to avoid during this critical period:
- Rest is Your Priority: In the first few days after surgery, rest is not just recommended; it’s essential. Your body needs time to heal, and adequate rest can facilitate a smoother recovery process
- Limited Movement: Engage in very limited physical activities. Gentle walking around your home is encouraged to promote blood circulation, but avoid any strenuous movements
- No Lifting: Absolutely avoid lifting any objects heavier than 2 kilograms. Lifting heavy objects can strain your chest muscles and incisions, leading to complications
- Avoid Raising Your Arms: Raising your arms above your head can place undue stress on the surgical area. Refrain from activities that require such movements
- No Driving: Refrain from driving until you have clearance from your surgeon. The action of steering can put a strain on your chest and may also be affected by post-surgery medication
- Wearing a Supportive Bra: Wear the post-operative bra provided by your surgeon. This bra is specially designed to support your new contours and aid in the healing process
- Sleep Positioning: Sleep on your back with your upper body slightly elevated. This position can help in reducing swelling and avoids putting pressure on your chest
- Avoid Exercise and Sports: All forms of exercise and sports should be avoided during this phase. Even light exercises can be harmful to your healing process
- Be Mindful of Your Body’s Signals: Pay attention to any signs of discomfort or pain. These are indicators that you may be overexerting yourself
- Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet to support your body’s healing process. Good nutrition plays a key role in recovery
- Avoiding Certain Medications and Supplements: Consult your surgeon regarding medications and supplements you should avoid, as some can increase the risk of bleeding or interfere with healing
- Regular Follow-ups: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon. These are essential for monitoring your recovery and ensuring everything is progressing as expected
Throughout this phase, maintaining a patient and cautious approach is key. Respecting your body’s limits during this time can lead to a more successful recovery and a quicker return to your regular exercise regime in the future.
Phase 2 (Initial Weeks)
In the initial weeks following your breast augmentation surgery, as you step into Phase 2 of your recovery, the focus shifts slightly towards introducing light activities. This phase is about gentle reintroduction of movement to your routine, but it’s still important to proceed with caution. Here’s a guide on what constitutes light exercise during this phase.
- Gradual Increase in Activity: Start by gradually increasing your daily activities. This doesn’t mean jumping straight back into your regular exercise routine, but rather slowly enhancing your level of physical activity
- Walking is Recommended: Begin with light walking. It’s an excellent way to keep active without exerting too much strain on your body. Increase the distance and pace gradually, as long as it feels comfortable
- Avoid Impact and Bounce: Any exercise that involves impact or bounce should still be avoided. Activities such as jogging, running, or aerobic workouts are not recommended at this stage
- Light Stretching: You can start incorporating some light stretching exercises. Be cautious not to stretch your arms above your head or behind your back. Keep movements within a comfortable range
- Body Weight Exercises: Exercises like leg lifts or calf raises, which don’t strain the upper body, can be included. However, avoid any exercise that directly engages your chest muscles
- Monitor Your Heart Rate: Keep your heart rate in check. The goal is to avoid overexertion. A mild increase in heart rate is fine, but it shouldn’t reach levels you would normally achieve in a more intense workout
- Listen to Your Body: If you experience any discomfort or pain, take it as a sign to slow down or stop. Remember, feeling a bit of fatigue is normal, but you shouldn’t be in pain
- Hydrotherapy and Swimming: Depending on your surgeon’s advice, you might start light hydrotherapy or swimming. However, this is usually permissible only after incisions are fully healed to avoid infection risks
- Yoga and Pilates: Gentle yoga and Pilates can be beneficial, focusing on lower body and core. Avoid postures that put pressure on your chest or require arm strength
- No Heavy Lifting or High-Intensity Training: Continue to avoid heavy lifting or high-intensity training. These activities can be reintroduced in later phases of your recovery
- Wear a Supportive Sports Bra: Wear a supportive sports bra designed for post-operative care when engaging in any form of exercise. This provides support and helps in managing discomfort
It’s important to remember that this is a transitional phase. The goal is to reintroduce your body to exercise without compromising your recovery process. Each individual’s response to surgery and pace of recovery differs, and thus, adhering to the advice of your surgeon is essential.
Anca can provide specific guidelines tailored to your recovery status. By following a cautious and structured approach to resuming physical activities, you set a solid foundation for a more active lifestyle in the forthcoming weeks.
Phase 3 – Exercise after Breast Augmentation
As you progress into Phase 3 of your recovery from breast augmentation surgery, typically spanning from a few weeks to months post-surgery, you can start to gradually introduce more strenuous exercises into your routine. It’s important to recognise the signs that indicate you are ready for this phase and to understand how to safely increase the intensity of your workouts:
- Assessment of Healing Progress: Before progressing to more strenuous exercises, ensure your surgical wounds have healed properly. This is often indicated by the absence of pain in the surgical area, no swelling, and closed incisions
- Consultation with Your Surgeon: Have a thorough consultation with Anca. She should give you the go-ahead to begin more intense exercises, based on her assessment of your recovery
- Start with Moderate Exercises: Begin with moderate-intensity exercises. This can include brisk walking, light jogging, or cycling. The key is to increase intensity gradually
- Incorporation of Strength Training: You may start incorporating light strength training exercises. Initially focus on lower body workouts like squats and lunges, avoiding direct pressure on the chest area
- Introduction of Upper Body Workouts: Gradually include upper body exercises. Start with very light weights and increase slowly. Avoid exercises that cause strain or discomfort in the chest
- Listen to Your Body: Pay close attention to how your body responds to increased physical activity. Any signs of discomfort, pain, or swelling should be taken seriously and addressed immediately
- Monitor Changes in Scarring: Keep an eye on your scars. If you notice any changes in the appearance of your scars when exercising, it might be a sign to reduce the intensity
- Cardiovascular Exercises: Cardio exercises can be increased in intensity and duration. However, activities that involve high impact or extensive upper body movement should be approached with caution
- Swimming and Water Aerobics: If you enjoy swimming or water aerobics, you can gradually reintroduce these activities, provided that your incisions are completely healed
- Yoga and Pilates: Advanced yoga and Pilates poses can be reintroduced. However, avoid or modify postures that place excessive strain on the chest until you feel comfortable
- Regular Stretching: Continue with regular stretching exercises to maintain flexibility, paying special attention to the upper body to avoid stiffness
- Avoiding Overexertion: While increasing exercise intensity, it’s essential to avoid overexertion. Balance your exercise routine with adequate rest
- Observing Post-Exercise Effects: After exercising, observe any immediate or delayed responses from your body, such as unusual soreness or swelling
As you reintroduce more strenuous activities, it’s important to keep in mind that the journey to full recovery is a process that requires patience and understanding of your body’s limits. Anca’s guidelines should be your primary reference point for what exercises are appropriate at this stage. By respecting these guidelines and attentively listening to your body, you’ll be able to resume a more active lifestyle while ensuring the best possible outcome for your surgery.
Types of Exercises to Avoid after Breast Augmentation Surgery
Post breast augmentation surgery, it is essential to modify your exercise routine to accommodate your body’s healing process. Certain exercises should be either avoided or modified in the early stages of recovery to prevent any complications and to ensure a smooth healing journey. Here’s a detailed guide on which exercises to avoid or modify and suggestions for safer alternatives:
High-Impact Cardio Exercises:
- Avoid: Running, jumping jacks, and high-impact aerobics that cause significant movement or bouncing
- Modify: Opt for brisk walking or a stationary bike for cardiovascular fitness without the impact
Chest Presses and Push-Ups:
- Avoid: Exercises that directly engage chest muscles, like traditional push-ups and bench presses
- Modify: If you wish to maintain upper body strength, consider wall push-ups or very light chest flyes with small ranges of motion, only when advised safe by your surgeon
- Avoid: Lifting weights heavier than 2 kilograms, as this can put undue stress on your chest and incisions
- Modify: Use light weights or resistance bands for low-intensity strength training, focusing on lower body or non-chest involving upper body exercises
Overhead Lifting Movements:
- Avoid: Movements that require lifting your arms above your head, such as overhead presses
- Modify: Perform exercises that keep your arms below shoulder level, like lateral raises with light weights
- Avoid: Intense core workouts like sit-ups or full planks which can place pressure on your chest area
- Modify: Engage in gentle core-strengthening exercises such as pelvic tilts or seated leg lifts, ensuring minimal strain on the upper body
Yoga and Pilates:
- Avoid: Poses and movements that stretch or compress the chest excessively, such as deep backbends or chest openers
- Modify: Focus on lower body and core-centric poses, and gentle stretching exercises. Modify poses to avoid strain on the chest
- Avoid: Swimming strokes that involve extensive arm movements or chest pressure, like breaststroke or freestyle, until cleared by your surgeon
- Modify: Once incisions are fully healed, start with gentle leg kicks or water walking
Contact Sports and Martial Arts:
- Avoid: Sports that involve a risk of impact to your chest, such as soccer, basketball, or martial arts
- Modify: Non-contact physical activities or gentle, non-competitive sports that do not involve direct impact to the chest area
Spinning or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT):
- Avoid: Vigorous spinning classes or HIIT sessions in the initial weeks of recovery
- Modify: Low-intensity cycling at a comfortable pace, avoiding out-of-the-saddle positions
FAQs about When Can I Exercise after Breast Augmentation Surgery?
When can I start exercising after breast augmentation surgery?
- Typically, light activities such as walking can be resumed within a few days post-surgery, but it’s best to avoid strenuous exercises for at least 4-6 weeks. However, this timeline can vary based on individual recovery and the advice of your surgeon.
What types of exercises should I avoid immediately after surgery?
- Right after surgery, avoid high-impact activities, heavy lifting, exercises that involve chest muscles (like push-ups), and any activity that requires vigorous arm movement or overhead lifting.
Can I do cardio exercises after breast augmentation?
- Light cardio exercises, such as brisk walking, can usually be started a few days after surgery. More intense cardio should be avoided until you receive clearance from your surgeon, which is typically after 4-6 weeks.
When is it safe to start weight training after my breast augmentation?
- Light weight training focusing on the lower body can usually be resumed a few weeks post-surgery, but exercises involving the chest, arms, or heavy weights should be avoided for at least 6 weeks or until your surgeon advises it’s safe.
How will I know if I’m pushing myself too hard during post-surgery workouts?
- Signs of overexertion include increased pain or discomfort in the surgical area, swelling, redness, or any fluid discharge. It’s essential to listen to your body and stop any activity that causes discomfort or pain. Always consult your surgeon if you’re unsure about your symptoms.
Further Reading about Breast Augmentation with Chester Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anca Breahna
- Read more about I Have Lost Weight and I Don’t Like How My Breasts Look – Should I Get a Boob Job?
- Read more about Solutions for Uneven Breasts
- Read more about Glamorous Breasts with Large Breast Implants
- Read more about What Are Pointy Breasts or Puffy Nipples?
- Read more about Back, Shoulder and Neck Pain Caused by Large Breasts
Medical References about When Can I Exercise After Breast Augmentation Surgery?
- Exercise after Breast Augmentation: A Randomized Controlled Trial – PubMed
- What To Expect During Recovery from Breast Augmentation Surgery – Medical News Today
- Breast Augmentation – Cleveland Clinic
- Exercise After Breast Augmentation – American Society of Plastic Surgeons
- Effects of Breast Augmentation on Pectoralis Major Muscle Function in the Athletic Woman – Oxford Academic