I Am a Female Powerlifter and Train with Heavy Weight. How Will Implants Affect Upper Body Strength?

I am considering breast implants, but want to know how my training will be affected. I bench press (free weights) regularly with 100+lbs. Will the implants cause me to lose strength indefinitely? I prefer going under the muscle with silicone. I also do not want to damage the implants. Any input would be helpful.

Doctor Answers 14

I Am a Female Powerlifter and Train with Heavy Weight. How Will Implants Affect Upper Body Strength?

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   As a bodybuilder and as an athlete who has bench pressed 600 lbs, I probably have a different view on this question.   If your goal is to become the strongest you can become, there is NO doubt that there will be a decrement in strength with submuscular augmentation.  If you have enough tissue above the muscle to camouflage the implant, then go above the muscle.  If you have very little tissue or diet down at certain times, you should consider submuscular implants with the understanding that there will be a small decrease in strength and that there may be a small chance to laterally displace the implants.  I have put submuscular implants in women who have bench pressed almost 300 lbs without ill effect, but it is always better for the patient to be fully informed.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Under or over the muscle breast implants in "body builders"

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Thank you for the question.  A higher percentage of the fitness and body building competitors choose to have their breast implants placed on top of the muscle.  To do so and accomplish natural results used of form stable implants (gummy bear implants) in a sub-fascial position is often a good option.  Going under the muscle in your case will have no bearing on damage to the implant but some change in the strength of the pectoralis major muscle (chest muscle) should be expected by definition.  The smaller the implant is the less change in the strength of the muscle should be expected.

All the best,

Dr. Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Implants and power lifting

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After you heal, you should be able to go back to power lifting and should be able to lift the same amount of weight.

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

Powerlifters and muscle strength after surgery

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This question has actually been studied scientifically.  After 4 weeks, the study showed no change at all in pectoral strength compared to pre-op testing, even with sub-pectoral implants.


I Am a Female Powerlifter and Train with Heavy Weight. How Will Implants Affect Upper Body Strength?

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It is hard to advise without at least photos. Most surgeons in the US prefer sub-muscular placement of  implants.  Exceptions are made, and one group that sometimes does better above the muscle are lifters and body builders. They are more troubled by "animation" or movement of the implants with pectoral flexing.  In addition, repeated use of strong pectoral muscles may result in undesired lateral displacement. 

Use of shaped implants, such as Allergan style 410's placed above the muscle may be a good choice for you. 

Best to discuss options with a plastic surgeon. RealSelf has listings of surgeons in your area. You should consider cross referencing the listings from the The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (plasticsurgery dot org). A listing in the ASPS website assures you that your surgeon is not only board certified,  but also is a member in good standing of the major plastic surgery organization in the U. S. Thank you for your question, best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Power Lifting After Breast Augmentation #breastimplants

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The one thing you mostly need to consider is whether you place your implants above or below the muscle. When I see fitness patients who do lots of pectoralis work I suggest placing implants above the pectoralis muscle. This will avoid the animation deformity that you will see when under the muscle and performing heavy lifting exercises. It is very rare that I push patients to have implants above the muscle, but you are one of them. You need to clearly identify the pros and cons with your surgeon. You do have more of a risk of rippling effect when above the muscle. But again, if you are doing lifting exercises as you describe all the time what will happen is slowly that implant will be forced into the armpit area. It is impossible over time to keep the implant from doing this when the implant is below the muscle. It can happen over time above the muscle as well, but you are more likely to maintain a better pocket above the muscle with heavy lifting. Silicone for sure!

Richard J. Brown, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Weight lifting and breast implants

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Thank you for this interesting question.

1. Studies have been done with regard to muscle strength after a breast augmentation.  While subglandular patients recover a bit more quickly, both groups of women return to lifting the same weight as prior to the surgery suggesting no loss of muscle strength.  The implants a quite tough and you will not injure them.  I do believe, however, that repeated contraction of the pectoralis muscle will lead to lateral migration of the implants since the pectoralis is attached to the sternum (breastbone) and to the clavicle (collar bone) and has no attachment laterally.

2. The other issue is over or under the muscle.  Most fit women and especially body builders have a lower percentage body fat than patients who are less athletic.  Less body fat offers less coverage for the implant and may lead to increased implant visibility.  This will be less with silicone than saline but can occur with both. This is a discussion you will need to have with your plastic surgeon and it really depends on how much potential visibility you are willing to accept.

3. The other issue you did not mention is implant movement with muscle contraction. This is a potential issue when the implants are under the muscle.  Some patients experience more implant movement than others. Again you will have to discuss this with your plastic surgeon and decide how much if any movement you will be willing to tolerate.

Best of luck.

Ralph R. Garramone, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

May want to consider subglandular placement

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In power lifters the pectoralis muscle can be bulky so you might want to consider using a gel implant place just underneath the breast gland so you will not have muscle movement of your implant when you are lifting.  This should not effect you muscle strength after your initial post op period.


Good luck,

Dr T

Scott Tucker, MD
Winston Salem Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Body building and breast augmentation.

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As a power lifter you have 2 options each of which has its pros and cons.  Option one is to go below the muscle.  Main advantage being NO affect on your muscle strength nor function.  But several major downsides.  First is rippling and potential visibility of the implant.  This leads to the "fake" look.  More importantly is the increased risk of capsular contracture.  Alternatively is to go under the muscle.  The benefit being increased coverage of the implant , a more natural look and reduced capsular contracture.  As for how it will affect your muscle no one can tell.  There are many fit and active women with sub muscular implants who don't notice any weakness.  That being said no one can be sure.  Additionally your implants WILL move when you workout.  I hope that helps.  

Rady Rahban, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 142 reviews

Breast Augmentation and Exercise

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In general I recommend above the muscle breast augmentation for patients that exercise heavily with their upper arms or are professional body builders.  It is possible to place them under the muscle and look nice but in the gym you will usually see movement of the implants upward and out toward your armpit as you flex the pectoralis muscle during weight lifting. In some small number of cases it may even cause displacement of the implants into a position that looks too far out to the side because of scarring in this position.  Most everyone else I recommend under the muscle because of lower chance of contracture (hardening).

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.