Breast Implants & Exercise: A Complicated Relationship

Most women who consider breast augmentation are also fans of working out and staying fit -- whether it's through regular gym visits or simply enthusiastic participation in their favorite outdoor sports. But restrictions on post-op activity may give these same women pause before they book their surgery dates. And, as these various, RealSelf questions demonstrate, there's a lot of uncertainty surrounding how sports and exercise align with implants.

Let's examine the myths and facts surrounding breast implants and exercise so you can fully understand how the surgery can fit into your life.

Exercise Restrictions After Surgery

In the immediate days and weeks following breast augmentation, you'll be instructed to avoid exercise of any sort. This is a fairly typical guideline after any kind of surgery, so it's not limited to breast augmentation patients. During the early healing process, it's important to avoid any elevation in your pulse, which can cause unnecessary pain and swelling near your incisions. In addition to making your feel physically unwell, exercising too soon can prolong the recovery period, backfiring your attempts to get back to normal.

Women concerned with losing some of their hard-won cardiovascular endurance while they spend a couple of weeks off their feet should take heart knowing that the change is usually negligible.

Today's breast augmentation techniques allow for a faster recovery, which means that many patients are back to office jobs, errands, and light housework within a matter of days -- often less than a week. According to the breast augmentation page of Austin plastic surgeon Dr. Mahlon A. Kerr, most women are back to work in about 3 or 4 days. Low-impact exercise can be resumed shortly thereafter, and your surgeon will likely clear you for more strenuous exercise within a few weeks.

The Importance of Placement

Restrictions on exercise and movement aren't the same for every patient, however. Much depends on the placement of your implants. Breast implants can be placed either above or below the chest muscle, called the pectoralis. As a general rule of thumb, over-the-muscle placement requires a shorter recuperation than under-the-muscle.

Women who have their implants placed under their muscles typically need a bit more time before participating in any sort of strenuous activity that requires their upper bodies, such as weightlifting, rowing, and push-ups. But the shorter recuperation time doesn't make above-the-muscle placement the best choice for everyone. Surgeons often warn against this option for women with a very small amount of natural breast tissue, for example, because it's not as easy to conceal the implant.

Your surgeon can help you better understand the right option for you by conducting a thorough physical evaluation and discussing your goals with you.

Exercise Isn't Over

The key takeaway here should be that, above all, exercise as you know it isn't over after a breast augmentation. If you're used to working out most days of the week, then the weeks of reduced activity will take some getting used to. But once you're fully healed and you've got the green light from your surgeon, there's almost nothing you can't do. Run, hike, skydive, and swim with the knowledge that you and your implants safe -- and that you look your very best.


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