Updated November 2018
- Rushing into exercise after breast augmentation can cause breast implant distortion and possibly lead to capsular contracture.
- When you can workout largely depends on breast implant placement, your rate of healing, and surgeon skill.
- At around 7-8 weeks, most exercise limits are off.
Staying in shape after breast augmentation surgery is important to you if you live an active life. But getting into the gym too soon into your recovery could delay healing and impact your results.
When can I workout after breast augmentation?
The answer to that question depends on several factors. The major ones, however, are the placement of your breast implants, your rate of healing, and the skill of your surgeon. If your breast implants were placed above the muscle by an experienced plastic surgeon, you might be cleared for light lifting and low-to-medium impact sports within two weeks since this procedure type minimizes downtime. Not so for submuscular implants.
Because this placement is more invasive—calling for the pectoral muscle to be elevated and separated from the chest wall—exercise after breast augmentation under the muscle must be taken on slowly. You will need to limit physical activities for the first two weeks, then gradually increase them from there.
What you risk when you return to exercise too soon after breast augmentation
When you have a breast augmentation, the tissues around your breasts need adequate time to heal so that the capsules surrounding your breast implants form and securely hold them in place.
The constant up and down motions of exercise can cause friction to your breast tissues, delaying capsule formation and potentially leaving your breast implants looking distorted or asymmetrical. Workouts also raise your heart rate and blood pressure, which some surgeons believe increases swelling and fluid production. Should a layer of scar tissue develop around the fluid, capsular contracture could then occur.
Timeline to exercise after breast augmentation
Every surgeon has different rules when it comes to working out after breast augmentation surgery, so don't be on edge if you hear that someone else was able to exercise before you. Your surgeon will base any exercise restrictions on the type of breast augmentation procedure you had and how you are healing.
But we've captured some general guidelines as to when and how you will be able to exercise.
Weeks 1: Allow your body to heal
You will be advised to limit your activity to short, light walks around the house every other hour. These timed movements will keep you active while aiding blood circulation and helping to prevent blood clots.
Weeks 2-3: You can resume light activity
Walks can now be taken around the block, or you may do light cardio on a treadmill. Depending on how you are healing and whether your breast pocket has taken shape, you may also be able to do indoor cycling, light dancing, Yoga, Pilates, and gentle stretching.
You will still need to take care not to perform certain poses, postures, and movements that strain the breast muscles and tissues. "Use common sense and listen to your body," says San Diego plastic surgeon Dr. Tom Pousti. Stop or slow down if you feel pain, pulling or unusual sensations.
Avoid weightlifting and arm exercises, including push-ups and pull-ups, unless given the "OK" by your doctor. The good news, Dr. Pousti adds, is lower body exercise can generally be resumed as early as two weeks. Begin with no-weight lower body exercises like squats, lunges, and leg lifts. No weight means using nothing more than your body weight, including weight plates, weighted ankle straps, etc.
Weeks 4-6: Ease back into your routine
Ease back into arm workouts, chest exercises, weightlifting, jogging or running and increase your lower body weight training. Before you do, it's best to check with your plastic surgeon for specific advice on each workout type. For example, if you wish to lift weights, you will want to check with your surgeon to determine how much weight you can lift, both with your upper and lower body.
Weeks 7-8: Most limits are off
Your breast pockets should provide full support for your implants, allowing you to resume most sports and hobbies like CrossFit, horseback riding, long-distance running, surfing, skiing, snowboarding.
If you had additional procedures such as a breast lift or a tummy tuck, your surgeon might restrict you from doing these exercises for up to 12 weeks.
Weeks 12-24: Continue to guard your chest
Though you're largely back into your old routine, you'll need to keep from doing contact and strenuous exercise involving the pectoralis major muscles, such as push-ups, bench press, burpees, boxing/kickboxing, and pole dancing for at least 3-6 months. When you're able, you will still have some restrictions on how intense you perform these activities, so continue to consult with your surgeon.
For instance with boxing or kickboxing, you want to avoid direct hits to the chest for at least 4-6 months (6 months preferred). Use a chest protector for the first year during training. Use USA Boxing, Golden Gloves and MMA approved sports bra and turtle shells for competition.
Support your breast implants during exercise
A post-breast augmentation sports bra is believed by many surgeons to be a key to maintaining results in women with active lifestyles. But not all are created equally. Some provide more support than others and are based on impact levels such a low, medium, and high.
Huang-Begovic, C. (2017). Exercise after breast augmentation. American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Retrieved from https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/exercise-after-breast-augmentation