Lifting After Breast Augmentation

My doctor cleared me to return to my part-time serving job, which requires carrying up to 40 lbs of food with one arm at 3 weeks post-breast augmentation. I am excited to get back to work, but I'm also nervous that lifting or carrying things around with this much weight will cause problems due to my recent augmentation. Would other doctors agree that I can return to this type of work at 3 weeks post-op?

Doctor Answers (29)

Waitressing at three weeks

I clear my patients at four weeks. If you go back at three weeks make sure you are wearing a good supportive sports-type bra and that you keep your arms low while lifting. Good luck!

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Limit Lifting to No More Than 15lbs for 4-6 Weeks Following Breast Augmentation


         Heavy lifting and strenuous activity following breast augmentation can result in post-operative complications. In some cases, heavy lifting can cause bleeding and resultant hematoma formation. In other cases, heavy lifting can result in implant displacement with resultant implant malposition.

         For these reasons, limitations are often placed on lifting in the post-operative period. We generally limit lifting to no more than fifteen pounds for four to six weeks following breast augmentation. In addition, we stress that patients not lift their elbows above their shoulders and that they avoid repetitive arm movements.

         In the short term, it may be necessary to make slight modifications in your life style to avoid complications. Make sure you discuss this issue with your surgeon prior to proceeding with breast augmentation surgery.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Lifting during breast augmentation recovery


For three weeks following breast augmentation surgery, I recommend that patients try not to lift more than five pounds. I also ask them not to lift their elbows above their shoulders. Many of our patients are young women with young children and cannot strictly adhere to the five pound rule. The five pound rule, however, gives them a good idea as to how careful we want them to be during that period.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

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Heavy lifting restrictions after breast implant augmentation surgery


If implants were placed over the muscle I don't see any reason why you could not return to heavy lifting. If placed under the muscle I would consider a 6 week restriction for heavy lifting.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Back to work questions


Congratulations on your surgery and your new look.

Back to work questions can be complicated. There's no strict formula for when it is ok to go back to work. Determinations are made based on some of the following factors:

1. Type of operation
2. Complications post-op
3. Your pain tolerance and narcotic pain medication needs
4. Your job

In my San Francisco area practice people are typically back to work after one or two weeks (usually closer to one week). Because this can be a complex issue make sure you've communicated with your surgeon the type of work you do and what your post-op concerns might be.

I hope this helps!

Steven H. Williams, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Safer with each passing day

Breast augmentation is a short surgery which is typically performed as an outpatient. I prefer the patients take a week off from work. At that point they can return to work or school, but should refrain from all vigorous physical activity. At 1 month, they can resume cardio type exercises. At 2 months they can lift weights.  If you have pain lifting 40 lbs, it is definitely too much for you at that time.   Listen to your body!

Gary Lawton, MD, FACS
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

May be too soon, but talk to your surgeon for their advice

In my opinion, it may be too early for you to return to work considering the amount of  upper body strength you'll need to perform your tasks. I generally recommend that patients begin their regular exercise routine 3 weeks after surgery, except upper body weight training. Upper body weight training and push-ups should not be done until 6 weeks. Particularly when implants are placed under the chest muscle, upper body weight training before 6 weeks could cause bleeding and subsequent hardening (capsular contracture).  

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Lifting after a breast augmentation

We allow up to 20 pounds during the first 2 weeks, and then slowly increase after that so that by one month you can lift as tolerated. I think for safety sake I might say to make a more frequent run and have the trays filled a little less since it will be a good amount of weight in a static position on only one side. I would say 4 week is better if you can do it while doing the lighter tray before.

Julio Garcia, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Lifting post-op

In my practice, I allow you to lift as much as you like as of one month post op but no more than 15 pounds for that whole first month. Best of luck.

Christopher J. Davidson, MD, FACS
Wellesley Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 reviews

Lifting or Exercise After Breast Augmentation


I recommend that patients avoid heavy lifting for at least 3 weeks after surgery and certainly exercise for 3 weeks after. By 4 weeks one can resume all activities with no restrictions.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.