Lifting Arms After Breast Augmentation.

I am a Dental Hygienist at a pediatric office. I know I will not be able to lift, push, pull, ect for weeks following my surgery, but I was wondering what the usual protocol is for lifting your arms above your head. I will be out of work for approximately 10 days, that's including the weekend, but when I return I will be lifting my arms. I also lift my arms to straighten my hair, or pull it up if I am unable to straighten it. Thank you for your time.

Doctor Answers 26

Discuss all post-operative restrictions with your surgeon.

It’s not unusual for patients to be concerned about resumption of normal activity following breast augmentation surgery.These patients want to know when they can resume normal activities without restrictions.
In the post-operative period, we tell patients not to lift their elbows over their head for at least 3 weeks following surgery.This minimizes the potential for secondary complications such as bleeding, hematoma and implant malposition.
In addition, we also recommend that patients not lift more than 10 lbs. for at least 4 to 6 weeks following surgery. Again, we feel this minimizes the potential for secondary complications.
It’s important to realize that no 2 patients are every exactly alike.It’s also important to realize that every surgeon has his own post-operative routine.For this reason, it’s important to discuss these issues with your surgeon.No one is in a better position to make a post-operative recommendation than the person who will be performing your surgery.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Raising arms over head and activity restrictions after breast augmentation

Thank you for your question. You definitely want to follow your own surgeon's post-op activity instructions. This is a general guide I give to my patients as to the recovery
Week 1) Discomfort level progressively decreases with each day. Swelling decreases a great deal after one week. Most people return to work in some capacity. Driving is feasible if you are not on narcotics.
Week 2) Unlikely to need any narcotic support except maybe at night. Swelling continues to improve compared to week 1. You can start breast massage and slowly increasing your range of motion.
Weeks 3-6) May need tylenol or ibuprofen for intermittent discomfort. Swelling completely resolved. You should steadily regain your range of motion. May need additional few months for implants to settle into their final position.

As far as activity, here is a safe guide:
1) No heavy lifting or strenous activity for 6 weeks.
2) Resume walking at a leisurely pace right after surgery (e.g. 2 mph)
3) At 2 weeks, you can walk 2 miles at 2mph
4) At 3 weeks, you can walk 3 miles at 3mph
5) At 4 weeks, you can walk 4 miles at 4mph
6) At 5 weeks, you can jog 5 miles at 5mph
7) At 6 weeks, you can resume all activities, but listen to your body and use discomfort or tightness as a guide so you don't over do it.

So in summary starting to raise your arms above the head to help do your hair, etc, should not be a problem after the first week.  I would also avoid the heavy lifting until you are in your 6th week.

Young R. Cho, MD, PhD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Lifting protocols following breast augmentation.

As with most postoperative routines, it is surgeon dependent and you should follow the instructions given to you by your surgeon. In my practice, for women having subglandular (on top of the muscle), the restrictions are usually minimal. For submuscular placement, I prefer no heavy lifting (greater than 10lbs) for 2 weeks and the use of a post-augmentation bra. I do not restrict patients from normal, daily activities requiring overhead lifting of the arms (hair washing, etc.). However, request your information from your surgeon prior to surgery so that you can fully comply with their recommendations.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

There is no protocol


There is no specific protocol for breast augmentation activity since every plastic surgeon has his/her own preference and every patient has different requirements.  If you breast augmentation is performed under the muscle you will certainly feel sore and stiff when you raise your arms but there is no specific harm that you can do when you do so.  The most important physical limitation is really not to lift to heavy or do vigorous activity as this will increase your blood pressure and may result in increased swelling or a late hematoma.

All the best,

Dr Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 162 reviews

Try Not to Lift Things Until 4-6 Weeks After Surgery

Thank you for your question. Please follow the advice of your surgeon. However, I would recommend that you do not lift objects until 4-6 weeks after your surgery unfortunately. You place yourself at risk for implant displacement, hematoma or seroma development, wound breakdown, and other complications by being too active too soon.

Joshua D. Zuckerman, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Lifting arms after breast augmentation?

Thank you for your question! The "rapid recovery" breast augmentation is a newer philosophy with many surgeons to expedite activity and expedite recovery following the breast augmentation procedure. In my practice, utilizing the fast track technique after breast augmentations, women are readily able and doing most things virtually immediately after this procedure. It is the similar techniques as described and is really gaining popularity. She is even recommended to go out for dinner that evening. Pain is minimal and you will likely be on a scheduled antiinflammatory regimen/pain control along with early exercises/range of motion techniques immediately. However, follow your surgeon's instructions for postoperative care and restrictions, but it is common for most women to resume many of the preoperative activities and duties within a week. I typically restrict heavy lifting >20# and vigorous exercise for approximately 4-6 weeks.  Range of motion exercises is encouraged after the procedure. Swelling and settling of the implant typically occurs over a 6-12 week period along with placement in a compression-type bra for the same time period, while your incisions commonly resolve to its final appearance in up to a year. Hope that this helps! Best wishes for a great result!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Activities after a breast augmentaiton

Normal activities will most likely have not long term effects on your breasts.  Just be careful and avoid activities that make the breasts bounce up and down.  Moderation of activities is the key after breast surgery.  It is the repetitive bouncing up and down that you want to avoid.  Also it helps to wear a well fitting bra.  

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Lifting arms after breast augmentation

There's no problem with lifting your arms after breast augmentation surgery. I advise my patients to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy activity for about a month after surgery, but lifting your arms shouldn't be a problem. In fact, it may help to reduce swelling in the hands which can sometimes happen after surgery. 

James Knoetgen, III, MD
Fresno Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Arm lifting after Breast Augmentation

Thank you for your questions.

Yes, you can lift your arms up to do your hair within a day after breast augmentation. Most people will return to work within 7-10 days when you are off pain medication.

It will be important for you to ease back into it and not do too much too soon. You may want to make the first day a half day.

The main thing is no heavy lifting with your arms (no more than 5 lbs) for the first 4 weeks after breast augmentation.  Gentle range of motion without weights is okay.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 181 reviews

Armlifting After Breast Augmentation

There is really no significant problems with lifting your arms after a breast augmentation within hours. In fact, I encourage my patients to move their arms and elevate them above their head within hours post procedure.  However, I encourage my patients to keep their blood pressure below 100 and avoid aggressive physical exercise for 2-3 weeks.


Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 61 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.