Timeline to Resume Exercise after Breast Augmentation with Implants

If you’re thinking about getting breast implants or have just had your surgery, it’s really important to know what comes next, especially when you can start exercise.

In this blog post, Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim will explain why you need to give your body enough time to heal before resuming any form of exercise after breast implants surgery.

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Breast Surgery Guide

The Risks of Premature Exercise

When you get breast implants, your body needs time to heal and adjust to the changes. Exercising too soon after surgery can interfere with this healing process and may lead to several complications:

  • Implant Displacement: Vigorous movement or direct impact can cause the implants to shift out of their intended position, leading to asymmetry and possibly necessitating corrective surgery.
  • Rupture: While modern implants are highly durable, they are still susceptible to damage. Excessive force from high-impact exercises can cause an implant to rupture, resulting in pain and deformity, and requiring surgical intervention to replace the ruptured implant.
  • Increased Swelling and Pain: Exercise increases blood flow and can lead to excessive swelling around the surgery area. This not only prolongs the healing time but can also escalate pain levels, making recovery more difficult and uncomfortable.
  • Delayed Healing: Physical strain can cause stress on your surgical wounds, potentially leading to wound separation or infections, which can significantly extend your recovery period.

When to Start Exercising After Breast Implant Surgery

Typically, Dr Lim will advise you to avoid any strenuous activity for at least the first three weeks after surgery. Here’s a general guide on how to safely reintegrate exercise into your routine:

Immediate Post-Surgery (0-3 Weeks)

In the first two weeks after your breast implant surgery, you’ll likely experience several common symptoms as your body begins to heal from the procedure. These include:

  • Swelling: This is your body’s natural response to surgery and the trauma of the procedure. Swelling helps to protect the affected area but can be uncomfortable.
  • Sensitivity: The surgical area will be tender and sensitive as nerve endings respond to the changes and healing begins.
  • Limited Mobility: Due to the location of the surgery, you’ll find that movements, especially of the upper body and arms, are restricted. This is to prevent stress on the surgical sites and to aid in healing.

Even though rest is important in these early days, some very light activities can aid your recovery. To help maintain good circulation, which is crucial for healing, try to get up for short, slow walks around your home. These should not be strenuous or long; just enough to keep the blood moving. Good circulation helps reduce the risk of complications like blood clots.

Activities to Avoid

During this initial recovery phase, there are certain activities you should definitely avoid to prevent harming the surgical site or delaying your recovery:

  • No Lifting: Avoid lifting anything heavier than a small book. This restriction is to prevent any strain on your stitches and the surgical site.
  • No Stretching or Reaching: Be mindful not to stretch or reach out with your arms, which can pull on the healing tissues and potentially cause damage or displacement of the implants.
  • Avoid Vigorous Activity: Any vigorous activity that increases your heart rate significantly or involves bouncing can interfere with healing. Activities such as jogging, running, or high-impact workouts must be completely avoided.
Breast Augmentation Patient 62 -360cc Round Implants Under Muscle
Breast Augmentation Patient 62 -360cc Round Implants Under Muscle

Early Recovery Phase (3-4 Weeks)

As you move into the early recovery phase, which spans from the end of the second week to the fourth week after your surgery, you’ll start noticing some positive changes in how your body feels and responds:

  • Decrease in Initial Swelling: The noticeable swelling that followed your surgery will begin to subside during this period. As the swelling reduces, you’ll find that the shape of your breasts starts settling into a more natural appearance.
  • Gradual Improvement in Pain: The discomfort and pain that were prominent right after the surgery should start to diminish. You may find that you need less pain medication, if any, and feel more comfortable during daily activities.
  • Beginnings of Tissue Healing Around the Implants: Your body will start forming scar tissue around the implants, which helps stabilise them in their correct position. This is an important part of the healing process, as it ensures that the implants remain secure and do not shift.

With these positive changes, you can begin to incorporate slightly more activity into your daily routine, still focusing on gentle, low-impact movements:

  • Light Walking Outside: If you feel up to it, taking light walks outside can be beneficial. This not only aids circulation but also improves your mood and overall well-being. Ensure that these walks are leisurely and do not cause any discomfort.
  • Gentle, Non-Impact Activities: You can also start engaging in gentle activities that don’t involve direct movement or stress on your upper body. This can include light stretching of your legs and lower body, focusing on lower body poses only.

Activities to Avoid

While you are healing better and might feel more like yourself, it’s important to continue avoiding certain activities to ensure that the healing tissues are not strained:

  • Avoid Jogging and Running: These activities are high-impact and can create vibrations and movements that may disrupt the settling implants or irritate the incisions.
  • No Swimming: The breaststroke and other swimming movements put considerable strain on the chest muscles and surgical sites. Additionally, pools can pose a risk of infection to not yet fully healed incisions.
  • Steer Clear of Upper Body Workouts: Any exercises that involve the upper body, like lifting weights, push-ups, or even some types of yoga poses (like downward dog), should still be off-limits. These movements can put undue pressure on your healing tissues and potentially lead to complications.

Gradual Integration of Exercise (4-6 Weeks)

During the gradual integration phase of your recovery, from about four to six weeks post-surgery, you’ll notice more pronounced improvements in both comfort and mobility:

  • Significant Reduction in Swelling and Pain: By this stage, most of the initial swelling has subsided, and the pain should be substantially less. You’ll start to see more of the final results of your surgery as the implants settle into their positions.
  • Increased Range of Motion in the Upper Body: As the internal tissues heal and the inflammation decreases, you’ll experience a greater range of motion in your upper body. This increased flexibility will allow you to perform more activities with less discomfort.

With these improvements, you can safely expand the range of activities you engage in, provided they are still low in impact and intensity:

  • Moderate Walking or Light Cycling on exercise bicycle: You can increase the pace of your walking or start adding gentle cycling into your routine. Both are excellent for your cardiovascular health and are gentle enough not to disrupt your healing process.
  • Introduction of Light Yoga or Stretching Exercises: This is a good time to begin light yoga, focusing on poses that do not put pressure on your chest or arms. Opt for yoga sequences that enhance flexibility and strengthen your core, legs, and back without involving intense upper body movements.

Activities to Avoid

Even though you’re feeling better and more capable, it’s important to continue avoiding certain exercises to ensure a complete and healthy recovery:

Avoid Weights or Resistance Training Involving the Chest: Keep away from the gym’s weight section or home resistance training that targets the upper body. Activities like bench presses, chest flies, or any exercise that strains the pectoral muscles can jeopardise the healing of your implants.

  • High-Impact Sports and Running Should Still Be Avoided: Activities that involve jumping, running, or rapid movements can still be too jarring for your recovering body. High impact can lead to movements of the implants, or even cause delayed healing of the incisions.
Breast Augmentation Patient 25 - 385cc Round Implants
Breast Augmentation Patient 25 – 385cc Round Implants

Closer to Full Recovery (6-12 Weeks)

As you approach the recovery stage between six to twelve weeks post-surgery, you’ll observe significant advancements in how your body feels and responds:

  • Most External Healing Should Be Complete: By this phase, the external signs of your surgery like bruises and most visible swelling should have dissipated. Your scars might still be noticeable but should be well on their way to healing.
  • The Implants Should Begin to Settle into Their Final Position: Over these weeks, your implants will start settling into their intended positions as the surrounding tissue fully adapts and the swelling subsides completely.

With the major hurdles of recovery behind you, it’s time to start reintegrating more standard forms of exercise, focusing on gradual intensity increases:

  • Gradual Return to Gym Activities with Low to Moderate Intensity: You can safely begin returning to the gym, starting with exercises that don’t put excessive strain on your body. Initially, keep the intensity low to moderate.
  • Start with Body Weight Exercises and Low Weights: Begin with bodyweight exercises that help strengthen your core, legs, and back without impacting your chest directly. Include light dumbbells or resistance bands to slowly reintroduce strength training into your regimen. Gradually increase the weight as you gauge your comfort and capability.

Activities to Avoid

While you’re making great strides in your recovery, there are still some precautions to maintain:

  • Heavy Weightlifting Should Be Approached with Caution: Avoid lifting very heavy weights or engaging in intense resistance training that targets the upper body. These activities can place too much stress on the still-healing tissues around your implants.
  • Contact Sports Should Be Avoided Until Cleared by the Surgeon: Sports that involve a high risk of impact or physical contact (like basketball, soccer, or rugby) should be avoided. The risk of an accidental hit or fall could disrupt the placement of your implants or reopen healing wounds.

Full Recovery and Maintenance (Beyond 12 Weeks)

Reaching beyond the 12-week mark typically signifies that you are in the full recovery phase, where significant changes and improvements are solidified:

  • Complete Healing of Tissues: At this stage, the tissues around the implants have fully healed, and any internal healing processes should be complete. The scars may continue to fade over time.
  • The Implants Fully Integrated into the Body: The implants are now a part of you, integrated with the surrounding tissues, ensuring they stay securely in place.
  • Return of Normal Sensations and Less Awareness of the Implants: Sensitivity in the area should normalise, and you may find that you’re less aware of the implants as part of your body, indicating a successful adaptation process.

With full recovery, you can confidently resume more vigorous and varied physical activities:

  • Full Return to Pre-Surgery Levels of Exercise: You can now safely return to the types of exercise you engaged in before your surgery, including high-impact sports and advanced resistance training. This includes running, jumping, competitive sports, and heavy weightlifting, assuming you feel comfortable and your doctor has given the go-ahead.
  • Incorporate a Variety of Exercises: Diversifying your workout routine not only enhances overall fitness but also ensures that all muscle groups are evenly developed and maintained, which supports the long-term success of your breast implants.

Even with a full recovery, maintaining a degree of vigilance is important:

  • Monitor for Any Pain or Unusual Symptoms: While you can enjoy a return to your usual activities, it’s important to remain observant for any signs of discomfort, pain, or unusual symptoms around the implant area. This could include changes in shape, swelling, or persistent pain, which are signs that you should consult Dr Lim.
  • Listen to Your Body: Continue to listen to your body and adjust your activities accordingly. Not all exercises may feel as comfortable as they did pre-surgery immediately, and it’s important to build up your tolerance and strength gradually.

FAQs about Exercise after Breast Implants Surgery


Can I do cardio exercises like using a treadmill or elliptical before the 6-week mark?

  • While light walking is encouraged soon after surgery to maintain circulation, using a treadmill or an elliptical should be approached with caution. It’s best to wait until you are cleared by Dr Lim, typically around the 4-6 week mark, to start with very light, low-impact cardio. The key is to avoid any bouncing or vigorous movement that could stress the surgical sites.

When is it safe to resume yoga or pilates classes?

  • You can start gentle forms of yoga and pilates around the 6-week mark, focusing on lower body movements that do not stress the chest area or require heavy use of the arms. Avoid poses and exercises that involve chest pressure, extensive stretching, or powerful core engagement until you are fully healed, usually beyond the 12-week mark, and have Dr Lim’s approval.

How soon can I start swimming after my breast implant surgery?

  • Swimming should be avoided until you’re sure the incision sites are fully healed to prevent infection. This usually means waiting until at least 10 weeks post-surgery. When you start swimming, begin with light swimming techniques that do not require vigorous arm movements or chest strain. Always consult with Dr Lim before starting to ensure your recovery is on track.

Is there a risk of the implants moving if I engage in high-intensity workouts after I’m fully recovered?

  • Once fully healed and with Dr Lim’s clearance (usually after 12 weeks), the implants should be securely settled and integrated with the body’s tissues, making displacement due to exercise unlikely. However, it’s important to gradually increase the intensity of workouts to ensure comfort and maintain vigilance for any unusual changes or discomfort.

What type of sports bra is recommended when returning to exercise post-surgery?

  • Choosing the right sports bra after breast implant surgery is essential for comfort and support. Initially, opt for a well-fitted, supportive, yet not overly tight, sports bra that can adequately support your new implants without putting excessive pressure on them. Compression bras are often recommended in the early phases of recovery to aid in swelling reduction and support. As you return to more strenuous activities, ensure the sports bra provides enough support to minimise movement but is comfortable enough not to restrict blood flow.

Further reading about Breast Implants Surgery with Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Breast Implants Surgery

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About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

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