When Can I Start Raising my Arms over my Head After BA?

I'm a flight attendant and will need to raise my arms above my head to close the overhead bins. I do run on a regular basis so feel I'm pretty 'in shape'. When can I expect to return to work and would it benefit me to wear a tight sports bra for the first few weeks as well? I've waited a long time for my boobs and don't want to mess things up. Thanks

Doctor Answers 23

Rapid Recovery After Breast Augmentation

The rapid recovery system following breast augmentation completely reduces "down time."  By using scheduled doses of ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and arm exercises my patients are back to their normal routine within a few days.  I've had patients go to work the day after surgery.  By raising the arms above the head until elbows touch ears the pec. muscles are stretched.  This decreases stiffness and increases blood flow which decreases swelling.

I don't mind if my patients get back to the gym a day or two after surgery as long as they don't do heavy pec. work.  Most surgeons are concerned that this could cause bleeding and a hematoma.  I've been doing this system for over 2 years and have never had a hematoma. 

So go ahead, raise your arms and go back to work.

Raising arms after breast augmentation

Post-operative instruction will vary among plastic surgeons.  You should follow your plastic surgeon's recommendation.  In my practice, my patients are allowed to raise their arms to perform daily activities such as brushing hair, taking shower, etc soon after the surgery.  I ask them not to push, pull, jump, or carry heavy objects for 2-3 weeks. They wear surgical bra or sports bra for three weeks.   If patients have non-active desk jobs, they normally return to theirs jobs within 3-4 days.  As a flight attendent, I know that you have to close heavy overhead bins and doors.  You probably need to take about three weeks off before returning to your work.

Raising arms after breast augmentation surgery

I recommend that my patients start carefully lifting their arms same day as surgery.  I feel doing this light exercise helps minimize discomfort. However, be mindful of your body and don't over do it.  Additionally, do not lift weights or other heavy objects for 2-4 weeks after surgery.

Jeffrey Hartog, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 54 reviews

Raising your arms after Breast Augmentation Surgery

You should really ask your surgeon what he/she recommends and follow the post operative instructions that are given to you by your surgeon.  I ask my patients to wear a surgical bra for 4 weeks and during that time, to also limit their arm movements and NOT lift anything over 10 lbs.  The less you move your arms (and therefore the pectoralis muscle), the better for recovery after breast augmentation surgery. I ask patients to keep the elbows to their size for the 1st 2 weeks after presentation surgery. Patients are also asked to refrain from any heavy lifting or strenuous upper body exercises for at least 6 weeks. Best wishes.

Lifting your arms over your head should start the day of surgery

For over thirty yrears I have encouraged my patients to lift their arms over their head starting right away. In the first follow up visit, the next morning, I insist they put their arms over their head and touch the side of their head with their arms. It is some what difficult and uncomfortable but makes them feel much better right away. It prevents them from going though rehabilitaion of the range of motion of their arms. 

I also request the patients refrain from any significant lifting or bending or doing any activity that will raise their blood pressure or pulse rate for at least two weeks. It would also be bad if you were on a flight during the first two weeks and developed a hematoma of one of your breast. Where would you be able to find medical help? After two weeks you should be safe to travel and work as a Flight Attendent but you should avoid any kind of trauma to your breast. After two months you should be good to go for any activity. 

Carl W. "Rick" Lentz III, MD
Orlando Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Stretching After BA

I generally hold patients to no lifting heavy things for 10- 14 days post-op.  However, just raising  your arms after surgery is OK at almost any time but the physical force of closing those bins should be avoided for about 10 days. I would suggest that a flight attendant be off a solid 2 weeks after surgery.  It would be hard to get back to that job without constant physical demands on your arms and chest muscles.  Lifting a single bag is not usually too risky but doing it 30 or 40 times in a day could stir up some trouble.

Raising arms after breast augmentation

Thank you for the question.  Doctors have different opinions on the matter.  We usually recommend patients to do only light activities up until 3-4 weeks after surgery to give the wounds time to heal and the implants to settle.  It would be best to follow your surgeon's advice on this. Best of luck. Dr. Michael Omidi.

An in-person exam with a board-certified plastic surgeon is the best way to assess your needs and provide true medical advice.

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 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, I would wait a few weeks before closing overhead bins on a frequent/routine basis. I would also avoid the heavy lifting until you are in your 6th week.

Restrict movement for 3 weeks.

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.
Obviously, these restrictions rule out lifting heavy suitcases into overhead storage bins.If heavy lifting can be avoided, it might be possible to return to work in 2 to 3 weeks following surgery.Return might be facilitated by using a compressive support bra and restricting initial activity levels in the work place.
It’s important to realize that no two patients are ever 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 performed your surgery.

In about a week or two

Generally, I advise patients that they can start doing more intense physical activity at 3 weeks, and upper body strength exercises at 6 weeks after surgery. If you don't lift heavy luggage in your job or things like that, then you can probably return to work in a week or two  if your recovery is going well. However, you should ask your surgeon as they may have different guidelines. A good supportive sports bra will help reduce swelling and is a good idea, but again you should ask your surgeon.

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.