For many, cosmetic surgery and an interest in exercise are based on the same motivations—the desire to maintain an attractive, healthy appearance. People exercise to maintain their health, their vitality, and their appearance, and they frequently choose cosmetic surgery to enhance and maintain those hard-earned results. Because so many cosmetic surgery patients have active lifestyles, patients frequently have questions about exercise following their procedures—both in the near and the short term.
Of particular interest is exercise following breast implant surgery.
HOW LONG SHOULD I WAIT AFTER SURGERY?
Initially, patients want to know how soon after breast enhancement surgery they can safely resume their regular fitness regimen. The answer, of course, varies, depending on how strenuous their normal activities are and how their recovery is progressing; and for those reasons, it is vital that a breast enhancement surgery patient discuss her plans and goals with her cosmetic surgeon to determine what is best for her unique circumstances.
While these are only general guidelines, for most patients, full activities can be resumed within about four to six weeks. During that recovery period, normal activities such as walking and performing less strenuous activities are possible and encouraged, but it is important to keep the incision clean and free of excess sweat until the suture has had a chance to heal more fully.
WILL MY IMPLANTS AFFECT MY PHYSICAL ABILITIES?
Many patients are concerned about the potential for their new breast implantsto interfere with their range of motion, their muscle strength, or other physical abilities, in the long term.
To address the question very broadly, breast implants are designed to mimic natural breasts not just in terms of appearance, but in general weight, proportion, and buoyancy. As such, breast implants generally shouldn’t affect your physical abilities any more than naturally large breasts would. However, certain problems can occur, and your decisions about cosmetic surgery should be made with full knowledge of the potential risks and other drawbacks for any given procedure.
For some patients, particularly those who have had major changes in breast size, the effects of the breast implants are more noticeable, and of course, the larger the breasts are overall, the more likely they are to affect range of motion, reach, and other physical abilities.
Specific concerns many women have involve implants’ potential to become displaced during physical activity, the weight of the implants, the buoyancy of the implants and their effect on swimming and other water sports, and effects on range of physical motion.
Some patients express concern that the presence of breast implants might affect their ability to move their arms comfortably without shifting or displacement of the implants (lateral displacement). The potential for such displacement can be effectively minimized by keeping the size of the implants within the range of the diameter of the natural breast.
WEIGHT OF IMPLANTS
Many patients express concern that their breast implants might cause problems with back and neck pain similar to those that women with naturally large breasts frequently suffer. Typically, both saline and silicone breast implants contain about 300cc of fluid (although this varies depending on the size implant you and your cosmetic surgeon choose), or about ten to eleven ounces. So an average pair of breast implants will add less than 1.5 pounds.
Some patients have asked about the buoyancy of their breast implants, and how that might affect swimming. The answer, in this case, depends on the type of implant. Saline implants are neutrally buoyant, meaning that they will neither float nor sink. Silicone implants are somewhat heavier than water, however, and can cause a slight sinking effect. This effect, however, is fairly minor, and should not affect recreational swimming.
RANGE OF MOTION
Breast implants’ effects on range of motion can be difficult to quantify. For patients who have had major changes to their breast size, their new breasts can, at least initially, tend to get in the way. This effect is especially pronounced when participating in sports that require a large range of arm motion, such as golf, tennis, racquetball, softball, and the like. However, most patients are able to adapt quickly and learn to compensate for their larger breasts.
Finally, many patients are concerned about the potential for pain associated with breast implants, and how that might affect their abilities to participate in sports and other physical activities. In most cases, post-surgical discomfort subsides quickly, over the course of days or possibly weeks. However, in some rare cases, chronic pain problems have been associated with breast enhancement surgery. In such cases, the pain can often be managed with rest, massage, pain medications, and appropriate support for the breasts. In some very rare cases, however, the implants may have to be removed and possibly replaced with smaller implants.
SAGGING OR DROOPING
Large breasts sag and droop more readily than small ones, so the ptosis, which literally means ‘to fall,’ is a common complaint in larger-breasted women, whether they have implants or not. To prevent ptosis, patients should always wear a supportive bra when engaging in any activity involving running, jogging, jumping, or other sudden movements.