With the boost of confidence you get with breast augmentation surgery, going to the gym with some friends seems like the perfect plan. Working out can make us feel good even on a gloomy day. However, it is generally advised to stay away from physical activity directly after breast augmentation. It’s important you follow your surgeon’s instructions as this will get a better aesthetic result.
Due to the fact that many patients want to continue with their previously active lifestyles, a common concern is often how long they should wait after the surgery before starting exercises again. For every patient it is different. The best person to ask this is your surgeon. But there are some general rules you will need to follow.
Give yourself time to heal
After any surgery, your body needs to heal itself. Even if the surgery you get is a scarless one, there are incisions and stitches beneath the skin that you can’t see. These can get easily torn or if you have implants placed, they can get displaced if you put stress on the tissues around them.
In the initial weeks, usually, six weeks, it’s important to;
- Take it easy
- Get plenty of rest
- Eat healthy food
- And, focus on healing.
However, this does not mean giving up on exercise completely. A regular light exercise is completely ok. It actually helps your breasts to avoid complications from the surgery
Exercise can be beneficial after surgery
Research shows that light movements, like raising your hands and gently walking around, shortly after surgery, can reduce postoperative pain and result in a much quicker healing time. The small, controlled movements increase your blood supply and reduce the chance of clot formation. This in turn means there is a better blood supply to the surgical area, which leads to better healing.
Do’s and don’ts of exercise after breast surgery
Now that you know that light exercise will actually speed up your recovery, it vital you don’t overdo it. Doing even the minimum amount of heavy exercise can cause serious damage. This is due to the fact that your chest muscles are healing, they need proper care and rest.
A major muscle of your chest that is often involved in breast augmentation surgery is the pectoralis major muscle. This is the key muscle of your chest area. So, many exercises involve some kind of pectoralis major muscle movement.
During a regular breast augmentation surgery, an incision is put through this muscle, it can be very dangerous to involve pectoralis major exercise in your daily routine, even a few weeks after the surgery.
Simple, light movements are ok as long as you don’t feel any discomfort.
Listen to your body
Focusing on how your body feels is always an excellent idea. When you exercise your whole body is involved in various movements. Even something as small as a brisk walk can put stress on muscles, even those not in your legs.
So, when you are going about your day after the surgery, especially in the early days, focus on what feels good and what feels uncomfortable. Notice anything that pulls your stitches a bit or makes your arms hurt, and stop doing that immediately. Even if it is as simple as reaching up. Small tears may hamper the recovery process and cause scar tissue to develop.
Why you should avoid exercising too much after surgery
The first four weeks after the surgery, is when the surgical wound is at its weakest. (Source) This means in these weeks the tissue has not yet healed and the skin is held together primarily by sutures and blood. As you can imagine, this is a very fragile condition. As the blood supply and tissue structure of the area are being built up again, the skin’s edges slowly start to knit together.
Wound healing is not the only concern though. The positioning of the implant and healing of muscles (mainly the pectoralis major) is another concern. In a study conducted on mainly female athletes who went through breast augmentation surgery, they found that it can take an average of 3.8 to 7.2 weeks before an athlete could get back to her regular weight room routines. Even then two of the seven, reported that they could not do all of the exercises they did before and had to refrain from some ‘pectoralis major’ muscle exercises due to pain.
This post-operative experience can vary depending on your health, weight, surgical technique etc. For example, the study included two types of implants; those placed over the muscle and those placed beneath the muscle. Usually, implants placed beneath the muscles take a longer recovery time.
The point of the study is to show that the recovery period after breast augmentation surgery is much longer than people assume. It is advisable to all patients that they refrain from medium to heavy exercises until cleared by the surgeon, and take proper precaution for even the light exercises and daily activities.
What happens if I exercise too soon?
Now that you know that exercising too early after the surgery is bad, you may be wondering exactly what this means. For starters, one of the most common problems one can face due to inappropriate exercise is scarring. Researchers agree that for the skin collagen to gain an even, uniform structure no mechanical stress can be applied to it.
Studies show that there are direct connections between movements, like stretching, with abnormal scar formation. (source) These researchers found that most of the scars were located in areas where skin stretching is already high naturally. Unfortunately, the chest and breast area fall into this category.
Keloids scars are also a risk. They tend to be large and have a very uneven surface; something you would not want on your body if they can be avoided. Apart from looking bad, they can greatly restrict the range of movement. And even if a keloid is not formed, a visible scar is not usually welcome.
Apart from scarring, exercise can also cause weakness of the associated muscles and displacement of the implants. For any wound, especially after a delicate surgery like breast augmentation, experts suggest a minimum of 4 to 6 weeks rest period. (source)
However, help managing and treating complications is always available with us.
Which exercises should you avoid?
As stated above, breast augmentation surgeries usually involve the pectoralis major muscle. Therefore, exercises that involve this muscle should be avoided. These include push up, chest press, bench press, dumbbell press etc. In fact, you should avoid doing the following;
- Lifting heavy instruments or load with your hands.
- picking up / Lifting your child
- Lifting your hands up
- Doing push up
- Step Aerobics
- Any strenuous activity
So, in a nutshell, avoid all things that can put stress on your upper body to avoid complications.
Apart from exercising, there are also a few things you need to avoid after the surgery. These include tight clothing that restricts blood flow and swimming. You also need to make sure you are wearing the right type of bra to provide support and reduce the pressure on your chest.
Back to Work after getting breast implants
A breast implant or augmentation surgery doesn’t demand full bed rest. However, depending on where you work, you may want to consider taking some time off to heal. As the implants settle, the tissue around them heals and forms a protective covering or capsule. If you are in a job that requires heavy lifting or even running, then the formation and position of this protective covering may get hampered, resulting in distortion. You may even need breast revision surgery.
So, which jobs can create interference with the healing? Below are a few professions that generally demand higher physical stress;
- Athlete or dancer
- Police or Military personnel
- Hairdresser or stylist
- Cleaner, washer or manual worker
- Child care (be careful while caring for your own child as well)
- Work that involves climbing or lifting (So, moms need to be extra careful)
Allowed exercises after breast augmentation
Although it is hard to say, there aren’t any allowed exercises after breast augmentation surgery, however, some controlled, small movements are encouraged. There have been numerous studies supporting this claim. (source)
So, which movements can you do? Here is a list of things you can do after a breast augmentation surgery:
- Regular daily movements, like eating dinner, moving around your house.
- Bending your arm
- Picking non-heavy things, like your comb to brush your hair, spoons, clothing items etc.
- Raising up your arm or rotating them in a controlled movement but only when your doctor suggests it.
- Deep breathing exercises.
- Walking around your house
- Using your phone, laptop etc.
Speeding up the recovery time
Even the short 4-6 week time of recovery from breast augmentation surgery may seem long. Especially if you are an active person and like to stay busy, you will want to get back to your regular routine as soon as possible.
To speed up the recovery process you can follow a few tried and true pieces of advice that have worked wonders for many.
- Avoid underwire bras or bras that reduce blood flow to the area.
- We have already established that good blood flow is key to better healing. Furthermore, the pressure of the wire can irritate the already swollen areas.
- Instead, choose a well-fitting sports bra with good support. It will not let much pressure accumulate on one point and will keep your breast tissue from moving and displacing the implant.
- Avoid unhealthy food and drinks.
- Don’t take anything that interferes with the recovery.
- This includes alcohol and nicotine (cigarettes).
- Sleep position.
- Lying on your side may push one breast and create unwanted pressure there. It is better to lie on your back for the time being.
- Take your medicines on time and just relax for a few days.
Long-Lasting breast augmentation results
A breast augmentation surgery can give incredible results, creating a whole new you. To retain this transformation as well as your new shape it is important to take care of the surgery site. Below are tips to get the best possible results;
- Being careful while you exercise is a given.
- You should also regularly check yourself for any unusual bumps or heaviness in your breast.
- Even after the 6th week has passed, take precautions before entering your full exercise routine completely, especially if it is physically demanding.
- Talk to your trainer or coach
- And, of course, consult your doctor.
- Starting slow is always good.
- Let yourself get acquainted with the new changes in your body before working out in earnest.
- If you are an athlete, dancer or in the armed forces, you might want to consult with your surgeon before starting to go to your job on a regular basis.
- Don’t miss your scheduled checkups. It is very important to make sure that nothing is amiss.
- Any small imperfection, if caught early, can be easily treated before it becomes a concern.
- Oftentimes you may not catch some things that a trained professional will never miss.
- Do not ignore your pains or discomfort.
- If you feel any discomfort while exercising, please stop immediately and call your doctor for a consult if it is too severe.
We understand that having to put a halt to your otherwise busy lifestyle can be difficult. The urge to jump right back into the rigorous exercises or the soothing yoga routine that you had is ever-present. But, to make sure that you get the very best results possible from your breast augmentation surgery, you must allow yourself time to heal. Following the instructions and advice of your plastic surgery team means placing your trust in people who are experts in this field. They will help you throughout the procedure and after it. So that you can heal and get back to the gym in no time.