One of the most common questions in my practice is often asked the day after surgery:
How soon can I go back to the gym? Or how soon can play tennis/ski/swim/run/etc?
The answer to this, like most things, is that it depends. It depends on how smooth a post-operative course you have, and also, what you will be doing. If you are like the vast majority of breast augmentation patients and experience a routine recovery, we usually let you start gently easing back into your routine of sports and exercise over a period lasting weeks to several months.
For the past three years I have encouraged patients to begin range of motion exercises immediately after surgery. In contrast to what used to be the way things were done, instead of telling patients to avoid washing their own hair and raising their arms above their shoulders, we now instruct patients to put their hands behind the small of their backs and roll their shoulders back; in addition, raising their arms and hands above their shoulders for several reps, every hour. This reduces post op muscle spasm (and therefore pain). It may even be a good idea to do these exercises before surgery; because so many of us are involved with sedentary jobs and because so many of the exercises we do emphasize strengthening front of the body muscles, the pec major muscles shorten and our shoulders tend to roll forwards.
Most of our patients are fit and involved in many activities involving upper body movement, from water skiing to mountain biking and from vigorous gym workouts to fitness competitions.
As a general rule, we suggest a light aerobic workout without raising your pulse over 100bpm and without flushing in your face at 7-10 days (stair master, stationary bike or treadmill, brisk walking). You can add light isolated biceps exercise at three weeks. Crunches and other basic core activities can be done at four weeks.
When To Start Upper-Body Exercises
I suggest waiting until six weeks to begin pec major actions such as chest presses, lat pull-downs and push-up like activities. These should begin light, and build gradually.
Pushups should be done first off the knees, and reps built up to three sets of 20; once this is achieved you may go to off the toes, beginning with fewer reps and again building them up. Similarly chest presses should be done at first with very light weights.
Any development of pain where the pec major muscle joins the breast bone should be treated like any overuse injury: back off on the exercise, rest, ice if needed, and re-introduce the activity gradually.
You can interpret the above guidelines to help guide you for your favorite sport.
If you have any specific questions please do not hesitate to ask us.
To schedule a consultation with Benjamin Gelfant MD or to learn more about your cosmetic surgery treatment options and what we can do to optimize your results, please contact his Vancouver cosmetic plastic surgery clinic by calling (604) 874-2078.
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