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When can I return to exercising after my breast augmentation?

Many of our breast augmentation patients are athletic women, and they often want to get back to working out as soon as possible after their procedures. It can be very tempting to go back to your usual activities right away, especially because breast augmentation causes surprisingly little postoperative discomfort. In fact, most women are feeling fairly good within a few days of their surgery.

However, the quality of your results will ultimately depend on what you do during the post-surgical period. It’s important to be mindful about your return to activity after your breast augmentation, because too much activity too early could cause complications that may affect how your breasts look and feel long-term.

When can you return to your usual activities? How should you plan for your recovery from breast augmentation? Of course, we really can’t provide medical advice in a blog post. Many different individual factors can affect when it’s safe for you to exercise again, so you’ll get a complete set of personalized recommendations from Dr. Miles after your procedure. However, we can give you a general idea of how recovery goes for most women, to help you set your expectations and plan for your recovery.

Light walking should begin as soon as possible

In order to prevent blood clots after surgery, it’s important to get moving as soon as possible after any surgery. Ideally, you should start with some light walking the day after your surgery. Don’t push yourself, and try not to get your heart rate up. The goal isn’t to get a workout, but just to get the body moving a little so that blood doesn’t stagnate. This is all that you should do right after surgery.

If you exercise too intensively in the first few days after surgery, this may increase your chances of a hematoma. A hematoma is a collection or “pool” of blood inside of the body, which can form if a blood vessel leaks after surgery. It may require returning to the operating room in order to drain out the blood and close off the bleeding vessel; otherwise, the presence of the blood is very irritating and can cause scarring. Careful surgical technique minimizes the chances of a hematoma, so patients of Dr. Miles very rarely have this happen. However, if you raise your heart rate and blood pressure too soon after surgery, you’re putting yourself at risk of this complication. It’s important to move around a bit, but it’s equally important to avoid the temptation to push yourself, especially during that first week!

Return to cardio at about two weeks

After about two weeks, you can begin to return to cardio-type exercises (such as cycling, faster walking, or hiking), allowing your heart rate to rise. You should start gradually and work your way up, giving your body time to adjust to activity again. Some women aren’t ready to start with cardio until it’s been three or four weeks since their procedure. Allow your energy level to guide you. If you’re still feeling drained and not up for exercise after two weeks, this means that your body is using its energy for healing, and doesn’t have a lot left over for being active. Give it time.

You’ll want to wait a little longer before you return to higher-impact activities, like running. Because it creates a lot of bouncing in the breasts, running tends to be uncomfortable for a little longer, and it’s important to allow for healing before returning to an activity like this. Otherwise, the shock of these activities could affect the position of the implants. Wait at least four weeks before you start running again, and wait it even longer if you find that the bouncing still makes your breasts hurt. Also, make sure you wear a good supportive sports bra to protect your breasts as you run.

Don’t swim until after the incisions are fully healed (usually about two to three weeks)

Going to the beach or the pool is often among the most desired activities after breast augmentation. With their newfound confidence, most women can hardly wait for the opportunity to show off their new bodies in a swimsuit! However, there are a couple of things to think about when deciding whether you’re ready to go to the beach or the pool, and they’re both related to your incisions.

You won’t be able to immerse yourself in water until your incisions have completely closed. This takes two to three weeks for most women, although it can be longer for some. While it’s okay to take a shower sooner than this as long as you dry the incisions well afterward, being immersed in water (even in a bath) can prevent the incisions from healing properly. Because of this, it’s best not to plan a big beach vacation right after your breast augmentation procedure.

Another thing to consider is that you’ll need to keep your incisions out of the sun for at least six months following your procedure. Allowing them to be exposed to sunlight too early can lead to a darkening of the scar, which in many cases is permanent. If you do choose to go to the beach or the pool within those first six months, you should cover up your incisions under clothing, or put some surgical tape or zinc oxide over them to completely block the sunlight.

Return to weightlifting at about six weeks

The activity you should wait the longest to return to is weightlifting with the upper body, particularly those activities that use the pectoralis major (such as a bench press or a fly). Yoga poses or other exercises that put significant body weight on the arms should similarly be avoided until six weeks.

This is especially crucial if you have had your implants placed beneath the chest muscle. After being stretched out by implants and having some of its attachments released, the muscle needs time to heal before it’s ready to be strongly activated again. It’s generally best to wait at least six to eight weeks before you return to any weightlifting with the pecs. You should listen to your body; if weightlifting causes pain, then wait a little longer.

You’ll also need to ramp up slowly. Don’t immediately return to lifting the same amount of weight as you did before you had your procedure. Instead, try lifting a much smaller weight, then gradually increase it over the course of several weeks, until you’re once again lifting as heavy as you’d like.

Give the body time to recover from breast augmentation

Many of our breast augmentation patients are athletic women. They often want to get back to exercising as soon as possible. However, when the body has been through a significant event like surgery, it’s extremely important to give it time to heal. If you begin exercising again too soon, you could risk harming the quality of your results. It’s worth investing in a bit of downtime to get great results that you can enjoy and be proud of for the rest of your life.

Dr. Eric MilesIf you’re considering breast augmentation, you have many different choices to make regarding your procedure. Athletic women are often thin, which can influence which options will be most likely to give you natural-looking results. Discussing your options with a qualified plastic surgeon will help you to make the best choices for yourself. To get great results from your breast augmentation, you should also have a highly experienced plastic surgeon perform your procedure. Please contact us to make your appointment with Dr. Miles, who’s double-board certified and gets truly amazing results for his patients.

Dr. Erik J. Miles
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