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Downtime After Breast Surgery: How Long Should I Wait Before Exercising?

Patients need to consider a variety of factors before hitting the pavement, gym, or mat

Determining whether or not to get breast augmentation is a serious decision. Whether you’ve already decided to take the leap, or you’re still weighing the pros and cons, it helps to have information about every aspect of the procedure. Becoming a well-informed patient means that you can make smarter choices about your health at every stage of the process – and that includes understanding the precautions you’ll need to take and the limitations you may experience in the weeks and months after surgery, including those dealing with exercise.

Exercise not only makes you look good, it makes you feel good – and that’s why, for many fitness-focused patients, the thought of giving it up for a while totally freaks them out. But this anxiety might be misplaced; while there are some restrictions on exercise after surgery, many individuals can return to the gym in a relatively short period time. How long exactly? That depends. On what? Let’s find out.

Average recovery timelines for patients

The restrictions on working out vary according to the type of implant a patient has – round or shaped – and also varies if the implant is under or over the muscle.

All patients need to refrain from exercise for a minimum of 2-3 weeks after surgery. After this period of time, patients can slowly start to resume their workouts of the lower body and abdomen. In other words, they can do a portion of their normal routine, excluding the arms, and then the next day, see if their breasts are more swollen or not. If they are swollen, a patient needs to wait a few days before trying again.

Patients with round implants can generally start some gentle arm exercises weeks after surgery but if the implant is under the muscle, this will be more like 6 weeks. Patients with shaped implants need to wait 3 months before resuming arm exercises.

As always, wearing a supportive sports bra is key. I recommend all my patients wear a bra 24/7 for life! And that goes for all women, implant or not.

Listening to your body is key to a healthy recovery process

No matter what a doctor tells you, you need to listen to your body before getting back into the gym. If you feel ready a lot earlier than your doctor suggested, that’s great – but you should still take it easy at first and see how your body reacts. If you’re taking a while to heal, that’s okay too. Don’t punish yourself for taking the time you need to become fully healthy; instead, see if you can push yourself to try lower-intensity exercises, like walking and light yoga with a lower body focus.

Self-care is also an essential part of healing from any kind of injury

If you want to get back to exercising as soon as possible after a breast augmentation surgery, it’s extremely important to follow your doctor’s instructions. Make sure to attend all follow-up appointments to make sure that you’re healing correctly.

When it comes to exercise, take it slow and focus on your long-term health

Finally, don’t forget to take it easy! The process of exercising and getting in shape isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. So, while you might be fidgeting about whether to take 3 weeks off or 6 weeks off, in the long run, it won’t make a big difference for your health. Resuming exercise too soon can make you feel unnecessarily tired.

Remember that healing is a process that takes time – it cannot be rushed. Healing requires energy and if you do too much exercise, you will feel very tired; there is not a lot of energy left over for other things during the process. Exercising too soon could also adversely affect the results of your surgery.

To learn more about breast surgery recovery and its potential impact on your health and lifestyle, contact my office today for a free consultation. We deliver, exceptional personalized care to all of our patients and our collaborative approach means that you are involved in every aspect of the decision-making process.

Tracy Pfeifer M.D. FACS is a board-certified plastic surgeon, trained and experienced in the most advanced cosmetic surgical procedures available today. Dr. Pfeifer is board certified by both the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery and she completed advanced training in Breast Surgery as a Fellow at the prestigious Institute of Reconstructive Breast Surgery in Atlanta, Georgia.

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