Exercise after Breast Enlargement Surgery

A Guide to Exercising After Breast Augmentation

After undergoing breast enlargement surgery, it’s important to approach your return to exercise with care. Whether you’re keen to return to the gym or simply incorporate more movement into your day, understanding the right timing and type of exercises will help you to avoid complications and maximise the benefits of your new enhancement. Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan aims to provide you with detailed, step-by-step advice on how to safely resume exercise after breast enlargement surgery, ensuring your recovery is smooth and your health is maintained.

Overview of Breast Enlargement Surgery and Recovery

Breast augmentation is a surgical procedure designed to enhance the size and shape of your breasts. It involves the insertion of implants which can be filled with either saline or silicone. The surgery is performed for various reasons, including balancing breast size, compensating for reduced breast mass post-pregnancy or surgery, and enhancing the contour of your body. Being aware of the specifics of your surgery is important, as the type of implant and the technique used by Anthony can influence your recovery and the approach to resuming physical activity.

The recovery period following breast augmentation can vary, but it’s generally divided into several phases. Immediately after the operation, you should expect some pain and swelling. Anthony will likely recommend rest and limit your physical activity to ensure the implants settle properly and healing occurs without interruption. Usually, the first few weeks are the most restrictive. You’ll need to avoid any strenuous activities that could stress your scars or disrupt the placement of the implants. Knowing this timeline is essential for planning your return to exercise in a way that supports your recovery.

Initial Post-Surgery Guidelines (0-2 Weeks)

After breast augmentation surgery, the initial two weeks are critical for your recovery and healing. During this time, experiencing some degree of pain and significant swelling is common. These are normal responses of your body as it adjusts to the implants and begins the healing process. To manage discomfort, Anthony will prescribe pain relief medications. These should be taken according to the prescribed schedule to manage pain effectively and ensure that you remain comfortable.

Swelling is another inevitable consequence of the surgery, which will be most prominent during the first few days and will gradually subside over the following weeks. To help reduce swelling, it’s advisable to keep your upper body elevated, even while sleeping, and use ice packs or cold compresses as recommended by Anthony.

Rest is important during this initial recovery phase. It is not just about sleeping well at night but also about keeping physical activity to a minimum to allow your body the energy it needs to heal. It’s important to follow Anthony’s advice on how long to rest before resuming non-strenuous day-to-day activities. You will need to take time off work and avoid tasks that require physical exertion.

Limiting movement is not only about avoiding discomfort but also about ensuring the proper settling of the implants. Sudden movements or even stretching can disrupt the position of the implants and affect the aesthetic outcome of the surgery.

Breast Enlargement Augmentation - before and after

Activities to Avoid

During the first two weeks post-surgery, there are specific movements and exercises you must avoid to prevent complications. Activities that involve lifting, pushing, or pulling should be completely off-limits. This includes lifting heavy groceries, moving furniture, or carrying children. Such actions can strain your incisions, leading to increased pain or even reopening of the wounds.

Exercise is particularly risky during this period. You should avoid any form of vigorous exercise such as running, jumping, or any aerobic activity that increases your heart rate and blood pressure. Even exercises that might seem gentle, like yoga or stretching, can involve positions or movements that strain the chest area and should be avoided.

Anthony will provide you with a detailed list of prohibited activities, but as a general rule, avoid any activity that feels strenuous or causes pain in the surgery area. This includes avoiding driving until Anthony confirms that it is safe to do so, as operating a vehicle not only involves using your arms but also poses a risk if sudden movements are necessary for safety reasons.

Engaging in activities too soon after your surgery can significantly increase the risk of complications. One of the primary risks is haematoma, which is a collection of blood outside of blood vessels. This can occur when the blood vessels are strained and ruptured during physical activity. Not only does this condition require additional treatment and possibly surgery, but it can also prolong your recovery and affect the final appearance of your breast augmentation.

Other risks include increased swelling and delayed healing. When your body is subjected to physical stress, inflammation can worsen, and your body’s healing resources are diverted from healing your chest. In some cases, excessive movement can lead to displacement of the implants, creating asymmetry and possibly necessitating further surgery.

A Phased Approach to Exercising After Breast Augmentation

This phased approach helps in managing your recovery effectively and minimising the risk of complications.

Gentle Re-introduction (2-4 Weeks)

During the first two to four weeks post-surgery, your exercise should be very mild and focused on maintaining a little movement rather than improving fitness. The goal is to enhance blood circulation, maintain flexibility, and prevent stiffness without compromising the healing of the surgical site.

  • Safe Exercises to Begin with: Start with gentle walking. Initially, this might just mean walking around your home or down your street. Gradually increase the distance as you feel comfortable, but avoid any vigorous pace or terrain that requires significant effort. Other safe exercises include light stretching that does not involve the arms lifting above the shoulders or stretching the chest muscles. Simple leg and foot exercises, such as calf raises or gentle seated leg lifts, can also be included to maintain lower body circulation.
  • Monitoring Your Body’s Response to Activity: It’s important to observe how your body reacts to reintroducing activity. Look for any signs of discomfort, unusual pain, or swelling—these might indicate that you need to scale back your activity level. It’s also important to monitor your energy levels; feeling unusually tired after light exercises is a sign that your body is still healing and requires more rest.

Phase 2: Moderate Activities (4-8 Weeks)

As you move into the second phase, if Anthony agrees, you can begin incorporating more substantial but still moderate activities into your routine. This phase aims to slowly build up your strength and endurance without overloading your healing tissues.

  • Expanding Your Exercise Routine Cautiously: During weeks four to eight, you can start integrating activities like stationary cycling, which provides a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Swimming may also be permissible but always check with Anthony before taking up swimming to ensure your incisions have healed sufficiently. Light resistance exercises using light weights or resistance bands can begin, focusing on the lower body and avoiding direct strain on the chest or upper body.
  • Types of Exercises That Can Be Gradually Included: Pilates and yoga can be good options for increasing flexibility and strength throughout your body without intense impact or strain. However, avoid poses that involve chest pressure, heavy lifting, or extensive upper body engagement. Low-impact aerobics or dance classes tailored for beginners or those recovering from surgery can also be beneficial.

Phase 3: Full Return to Activity (8 Weeks and Beyond)

By eight weeks, your body should have healed significantly, allowing for a return to most, if not all, activities. This phase focuses on reintegrating exercises that were part of your routine before surgery and exploring new activities that accommodate your new body dynamics.

  • When and How to Safely Introduce High-Impact Exercises: Consult with Anthony before starting high-impact exercises such as running, jumping, or advanced aerobic workouts. Begin with short sessions, gradually increasing the intensity and duration as your comfort and stamina improve. Pay attention to any new discomforts or changes in how your body feels during these activities.
  • Understanding Your New Limits and Capabilities: With the addition of breast implants, you may notice changes in your balance and body mechanics. Activities that involve high agility or balance, like tennis or basketball, may require some adjustment in how you move. It’s important to approach your workout with an openness to adapt and modify as needed.

This structured, phased approach not only ensures that you return to your desired level of physical activity safely but also helps you understand and adapt to your body’s new capabilities and limits after breast enlargement.

Special Considerations for Exercise Post-Breast Augmentation

These considerations help ensure that your new implants do not interfere with your physical activities and that your health and safety are maintained.

Impact on Exercise Performance

  • How Implants May Affect Balance and Movement: Breast implants can change the way your body feels and moves, especially if they are of significant size. This change can affect your centre of gravity, potentially altering your balance. You might notice this most during activities that require high levels of coordination such as yoga, Pilates, or aerobics. Additionally, the weight of the implants might affect your posture and how you carry yourself, which can further influence your balance and movement during exercise.
  • Adjustments Needed in Technique and Form: Given the changes in balance and body dynamics, it may be necessary to adjust your exercise techniques and form to accommodate your new body structure. For example, if you engage in weight training, you may need to alter your upper body movements to avoid strain on the chest area or discomfort from the implants. Activities that require extensive upper body mobility, such as tennis or swimming, might also require modifications in your arm movements or strokes to feel comfortable and to prevent any damage to the implant area.

It’s advisable to work with a fitness trainer who is experienced in post-surgical exercise regimens. They can provide guidance on adjusting your exercise techniques to ensure that your movements are safe and effective. Additionally, starting slowly with any new or adjusted movements will allow you to assess comfort and performance without risking injury.

Choosing the Right Sports Bra

Importance of Support for New Implants

After breast augmentation, the importance of wearing a supportive sports bra cannot be overstated. A good sports bra will help to stabilise the implants, reducing movement during exercise, which can not only cause discomfort but also potentially impact the healing process. The right level of support can also help to maintain the aesthetic results of your surgery by ensuring that the implants are kept in their proper position as you move.

Recommendations for Best Types

When choosing a sports bra post-augmentation, several factors should be considered to ensure optimal support and comfort. Look for bras with:

  • Broad, adjustable straps: These provide better support and allow you to customise the fit according to your needs.
  • A wide underband: This helps distribute weight more evenly and adds additional support.
  • Full coverage cups: To prevent any spillage or movement of the implants during vigorous activities.
  • Moisture-wicking fabric: To help keep the area cool and dry, reducing the risk of irritation around the incision sites.

Avoid underwires in the early weeks post-surgery, as they can irritate sensitive incision sites and compressed breast tissue. It’s also beneficial to choose sports bras that are specifically designed for post-surgery recovery, as they often include features such as front closures that are easier to manage when mobility might still be limited.

By taking these special considerations into account, you can resume your fitness activities safely and comfortably, ensuring that your exercise routine complements your recovery and long-term physical health following breast augmentation.

FAQs about Exercise after Breast Augmentation

How soon after breast enlargement can I return to my desk job?

  • Most patients can return to desk jobs or other sedentary work within 5 to 7 days post-surgery, provided there is no heavy lifting or strenuous activity involved. It’s important to take regular breaks to stand and gently walk around to maintain circulation. Check with Anthony for personalised advice based on how your recovery is progressing.

Can I do cardio exercises without affecting my breast implants?

  • Yes, you can perform cardio exercises once Anthony gives you the go-ahead, usually starting with low-impact cardio such as walking or using a stationary bike. High-impact activities like running should be gradually reintroduced after the initial 8-week recovery period, ensuring your body is comfortable and shows no signs of distress.

What are the signs that I am pushing myself too hard during exercise after breast augmentation?

  • Signs that you may be overexerting include unusual or sharp pain around the surgery area, increased swelling, redness, or drainage from the incision sites, and general fatigue. These symptoms indicate that your body needs more time to heal, and you should reduce your exercise level and consult Anthony.

Is there a recommended type of exercise to start with after the surgery?

  • Post-surgery, it’s recommended to start with gentle walking. Walking promotes blood flow and helps prevent complications such as blood clots. As you progress in your recovery, you can gradually incorporate more varied forms of low-impact exercise.

How do I know if my sports bra is providing adequate support during exercise post-augmentation?

  • A well-fitting sports bra should feel snug but not overly tight, should keep the breasts securely in place without any movement during exercise, and should not cause any discomfort or indentations in your skin. If you notice bouncing or shifting during activities, or if you experience discomfort, consider trying a different size or style with more support.

Further Reading about Breast Enlargement Surgery with Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anthony MacQuillan

Medical References about Breast Augmentation