Will Exercising Be the Same?

I participate in olympic style weightlifting and in high intensity workouts. I'm scheduled for surgery in a couple months (BA submuscular) and am worried about the healing process and if working out will ever be the same. I heard from some friends I know that can't do a push up for 6 months and that anything heavy overhead doesn't feel the same. I'm not sure if it's because of age or the surgery itself. I'm 22 and do not want to give up competing. How long will it be before I can lift 100+?

Doctor Answers 10

Elite Weightlifter and Breast Augmentation

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   As a bodybuilder and former collegiate athlete, I can tell you that you should strongly consider implants over the muscle if the most important thing is preserving your elite strength.  A normal woman may not notice the decrement in strength, but you will.  I have placed implants in bodybuilders and strength athletes, and you should  detemine what is most important to you.

Olympic Level Weightlifting and Breast Implant Surgery

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Since you are very serious about competing at Olympic level weightlifting, you may want to strongly consider having your breast implants placed above the muscle. Placing them below the muscle, in a submuscular pocket, will have an affect on your performance at this level. Furthermore, the contractions of your pectoralis muscle will obviously distort the appearance of your breasts - not an ideal occurrence given the public nature of these competitions.

Of course, the problem with them placed above the muscle is that if you have a low body fat level, there may be visible contour irregularities seen and even some rippling. I would recommend a more conservative size and style - and go with silicone.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Submuscular or subpectoral implants will affect your workouts

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Depending on the implants you choose, especially the size, as well as exactly how your surgery is done, you will likely have to alter your workouts.  The pectoralis muscle is used in many upper body exercises and it is altered significantly when an implant is placed beneath it.  It is for this reason that surgeons often recommend that bodybuilders place the implant above the muscle - the downside is that if there is not enough tissue coverage you may see the rippling of the implant.  Hope this helps in your decision making process.

Weight lifting after a breast augmentation

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To answer your question -- yes, you will be able to lift weights after a breast augmentation.  When you first start working out after surgery, you will feel weaker; and it may take several months before you are at the same level that you were prior to surgery.  I usually ask my patients to wait 2-3 months from surgery before they start doing chest weights -- chest presses, push ups, etc; but many start lower extremity and arm weights (biceps, triceps) after 3 weeks.  Definitely discuss these issues with your surgeon -- every surgeon has a different post-operative routine.  Good luck!

Anureet K. Bajaj, MD
Oklahoma City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Exercise after breast augmentation

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You should wait at least 2 weeks before submerging yourself in water, and 6 if you want to swim. Wait 3 weeks before cardio and lower body training, and 6 before upper body strength training.

However, please ask your surgeon for their advice as it may be different. I have performed breast augmentation on many professional athletes and they have been able to maintain or improve their strength after surgery. However, to avoid all risk of weakening your muscles, you may want to consider sub glandular placement.


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Since the lower border of the pectoralis muscle is divided with the submuscular placement your pectoralis will be weaker after the surgery

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon

Olympic Exercising after breast augmentation

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At the level with which you compete, there will likely be some sequelae of having submuscular implants.  If you do proceed with this, I would certainly recommend using small implants to prevent the need for the pectoralis to be stretched over a larger implant. 
While small augmentation is often very well tolerated by most athletic women, a competitive woman at the olympic level is not the average patient.  You may also see some banding, or contraction of the muscle over the implants with weight lifting.  This does not always happen, but if exposing your upper chest while competing, this will likely make you unhappy. 
You will need to avoid heavy pectoralis workouts for several weeks, and then GRADUALLY increase your weight as your body allows.  Overdoing it too early will prolong the inflammation and discomfort and have an overall negative effect on your eventual healing.
The other option is having implants placed over the muscle.  If done incorrectly or with large implants, this can appear un-natural and you can more easily see rippling in the implants.  Time will also take more of a toll on implants placed over the muscle, and can result in low hanging, firm breasts that are unpleasant.
Discuss your goals, and particularly your priorities with your surgeon.  Ultimately you will have to decide whether the breast form or the competition is the most important, and follow recommendations based on this decision.

Breast Implants for Athletes

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I regularly perform breast augmentation surgery for patients who participate in body building, fitness and figure competitions. While many are initially concerned about sub-pectoral placement and the potential for distortion of the appearance of augmented breasts when the pec major contracts, I am absolutely confident that the aesthetic outcome for these patients will be far superior with implants placed under the muscle.

A pre-pectoral implant in a slender patient, especially one with well-developed muscles, looks just as you imagine it would: like a foreign object, not like a natural-appearing breast. The muscle does not have to contract for a pre-pectoral implant to look unnatural in this group of patients - it looks unnatural every minute of the day.

Achieving the ideal aesthetic position for a sub-pectoral implant requires release of part of the inferior origin of the muscle from the chest wall. I perform the minimal release of the origin of the pec major that is required to get the implant in an ideal position vertically, but also weaken the origin in the area where muscle contraction tends to displace an implant. As a result the vast majority of patients have little to no distortion of their breast appearance when the pec major muscles are tensed. Patients also do not experience any loss of function, strength or range of motion from release of this very limited part of the pec major origin. Many patients have indicated that their natural (but augmented) breast appearance has provided a significant advantage for them in competitions.

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

Implants under the muscle

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There are those surgeons who recommend going above the muscle in women who are into bodybuilding or heavy upper body workouts.  I still prefer under the muscle.  You should be able to get back to working out in about 3 weeks but will have to ease into it gradually.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Weight lifting and breast augmentation

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Usually submuscular implants will not impact strength in any significant way.  I prefer that my patient avoid weightlifting for 6-8 weeks, but you should ask your surgeon.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 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.