One common concern for many women considering breast augmentation has nothing to do with the surgery itself. Many women who seek breast implants want to look good and are in good shape, with an established exercise routine that may include working out 5 or 6 days a week. For such patients, being told they need to refrain from physically vigorous activities for a few weeks at least is the biggest challenge in deciding to get breast implants.
Most patients can handle taking time off from exercise during the initial recovery phase, which is usually 4 days or so. After that, they start to feel pretty good again, and women used to pushing themselves at the gym have a harder time resisting the temptation to resume even mild workouts.
It's necessary to hold off for a few weeks, though, because the pectoral muscles and incisions still need time to heal. As Dr. Jeffrey Rockmore, a breast augmentation specialist in Albany, advises on his website, "Although your breasts will likely feel sensitive for some time, you may gradually return to more vigorous activities, including working out, over the next several weeks."
So how should patients who want to exercise behave during this time? Here are 6 tips to help nurture your need to exercise without compromising your results:
- Rest. Wait, what? Yes, take this advice seriously. In the first 5 days, your most strenuous activity should be getting up from the couch to go to the bathroom. Walking a little bit around the house is good to keep the blood flowing and aid the healing process, but anything more is just asking for trouble. It's wise to stock up on some distractions before your surgery. Pick up those books you've been dying to read, and don't hesitate to binge-watch that show everyone's talking about.
- Avoid breaking a sweat in the first 10 days. This is tough for many women who start feeling pretty good after a week. But elevating your heart rate increases the chances of infection and swelling, which in turn increases the risk of capsular contracture. That's the primary complication following breast augmentation and occurs when the scar tissue hardens around the implants. After those first 5 days or so, start going for longer walks, but don't break the sweat rule.
- Consult your surgeon. This is the person you've trusted to perform surgery. So before resuming anything more rigorous than a brisk walk around the block, make sure your recovery is on schedule. You probably have a few follow-up appointments scheduled anyway, so ask you surgeon when you can be cleared for various activities.
- Have a support system. I'm not talking about workout buddies. This may seem obvious, but never exercise without a bra that provides exceptional support. Your doctor can recommend a good one specifically for this period as your body recovers.
- Get low. Remember this phrase: Lower impact and lower body. Even when you get the OK to crank up the pace of your workouts, choose exercises that limit the impact on your body — specifically your upper body. Bouncing equals bad. Runners can opt for stationary recumbent bicycles, for example, or the elliptical machine (without moving the arms.) Concentrate on leg exercises, such as lunges and leg presses, and core training.
- When you get the green light, think yellow. In other words, proceed with caution after your surgeon clears you for full workouts. Remember, it's been a while since you've used some of these muscles. Stretching and warming up is more important than ever. By gradually resuming your routine, you'll limit the chances of suffering an injury. That's the last thing you want at this point.
Here's a little bonus tip: Keep in mind that breast implants placed under the muscle typically result in more discomfort, so recovery may take longer.
The gist for all breast augmentation patients is that you need to not overdo it. As an active woman, you probably already know a lot about what it means to keep yourself healthy. Don't forget that wisdom now.