Many active women who choose breast augmentation and subsequently love the way their new breasts and figure look, worry that breast implants will affect their athletic or work performance and ability to exercise.
“This should not be a major concern,” says Dr. Evan M. Feldman, board certified plastic surgeon, who specializes in breast enhancement. “While we encourage all of our patients to discuss their lifestyles and goals with us so that we can advise them about what surgical options and sizes are best for them, long-term breast augmentation doesn’t conflict with exercise, work or living a healthy, active life. I have operated on elite athletes, rock climbers, fitness competitors, ironman triathletes, volleyball and tennis players, and they all report getting back to their pre-surgery performance levels, but it does take time.” These elite athletes report about a year before feeling as strong as they did prior to surgery, but most people will easily return to their daily activities within a few weeks after surgery.
It is important to allow your body to heal fully. This takes at least twelve weeks. “I can perform a very technical and delicate operation, but the aftercare like massage, supportive bras, and activity restriction plays as large a role in the result as my surgery,” Dr. Feldman says.
People interested in breast augmentation very often have physically active lifestyles or jobs and do not want to slow down after surgery. When you tell them it will be weeks before they will be able to return to lifting, dancing, running, spinning, or other cardio exercise, they panic a little. But it is important to avoid strenuous activity and lifting after surgery because elevated blood pressure or heart rate can increase the risk of bleeding or swelling and will affect your overall result. The restrictions doctors place on their patients are a result of a desire to avoid bleeding, swelling, tearing of muscle and implant malposition. “Most of my patients’ overdo it," says Dr. Feldman, "and most get away with it, but a few percent don’t.”
This means they need additional surgery, for additional cost, with doubled restrictions and results not as pretty as they could have been. “That’s not a good tradeoff, paying more to get less, just for getting into the gym a few weeks early, or not planning ahead to have someone help you at work or home.” says Dr. Feldman.
Everyone’s body heals differently, and it’s important for patients to listen to what their bodies are telling them, but as a general rule, all strenuous activity and lifting more than 2-3 lbs. should be avoided for the first two weeks. Dr. Feldman calls it "the Netflix or Redbox workout plan.” After that, lower-body cardio exercise such as brisk walking, stair climbing, and using the elliptical can be added, without use of arms. At eight weeks, if healing has occurred at a normal pace and everything looks good, light jogging, Zumba type aerobics and core work can be added. By twelve weeks after surgery, most patients will be able to resume full-body workouts, lifting, or other high impact activity. But remember to start with light weights and high repetitions. “Overdoing it now by 'maxing out' will create a surgical problem that ice and Advil won’t fix” says Dr. Feldman. Not to worry: Dr. Feldman and his staff will review all of this information before and after surgery and ensure your plan to return to work and activity is well explained. The good news is that your body’s metabolic rate rises after surgery, so gaining weight is usually not a problem.
If you have other questions about breast augmentation, the surgery or the options available to you, we at Bancroft Feldman Plastic Surgery would love to take the time to talk with you about the procedure and our experience with it. We are currently highlighting this procedure as part of our Spring Break Special, so if you are interested in exploring new options for your body, contact us today.