I am now officially 11 weeks post op! Recovery and exercise after breast augmentation is NOT what I expected.
In a nutshell, it was way easier than I expected! I was making a mountain out of a molehill… which is kinda ironic considering I turned my molehills into mountains…
I kept detailed notes so I could shed some light here for any fit girl who is thinking about having breast augmentation done, or one who has already scheduled and trying to figure out what to expect.
**Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor or licensed professional. I’m just a fit chick who wanted some melons and kept notes about about my experience. Every individual is different and every doctor has different guidelines and recommendations. Work closely with your doctor to determine the best plan for you!
I just wanna make sure you understand that this is not something to be taken lightly.
1) Yo boobies weren’t cheap
2) If you screw them up, you are in for a world of hurt, spending and may never heal properly. There are bad scenarios like a tear or capsular contracture.
3) Even if you don’t ef the pretty lil thangs up, you can set yourself back with some bleeding and bruising!
My Tips for Recovery and Exercise (Based on FAQs)
1| Find A Hobby
Every fit chick who ever wanted some tits:
“But do I really have to rest for that long?!!!! I miss the gym just thinking about it! What will I do with my life?! What will become of me?! I will probably die!!!”
I have good news. You won’t die.
You might die of boredom but that’s about it.
I can’t stress this enough! You won’t be able to spend an hour or more at the gym and it’s healthy for your mind to do other things! I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in fitness that we lose sight of other things we used to have passion for. I filled my time with some adult coloring books, read “You Are A Badass,” found new YouTube channels to watch, cooked and DIY’d my way through the days. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and it helped to take my mind off of the gym or lack-thereof.
2| You Won’t Become A Fat Slob
This is the perfect time to really focus on your nutrition and macros for healing and for maintenance. What better way to do that than by eating clean and nutrient dense foods?! Of course, your caloric needs will be different because you will be resting more, but just adjust and get all those micros. The little bit of weight that you do gain will likely be water retention (totally normal after anesthesia and surgery) and could be between 5-10 lbs. It will all come off!
3| Rest Is Actually Best
Sit yo ass down.
You will be itching to do something, but you really really need to prioritize healing and rest above gains, leaning out, etc. Think of it this way… if you don’t take rest seriously and end up hurt, you could potentially be set back by MONTHS. Let your body heal properly and you will be back in no time.
4| You Will Atrophy
Yes, you will unfortunately because taking time off (for certain amounts of time) will lead to atrophy. It’s also worth noting…
You look smaller during the first weeks of detraining because muscle glycogen stores shrink, not because you lose mass (though, the muscles literally become smaller because glycogen binds water). Good news: the effect is temporary since glycogen stores quickly expand when you resume training.
The other good news is that gains come back quickly after a period of detraining. Strength and hypertrophy quickly rebound due to muscle memory (myonuclei and neural adaptations.)
So try not to stress and know you will come back a BEAST when it’s due time.
5| Don’t Buy A Bunch of New Bras… Yet
I had an immediate urge to go buy some new sports bras that fit the new jewels. I only bought TWO and wore the shit out of them.
Your breasts will be swollen at first so a bra that is nice and snug now might be a little bit looser after a month or so. I preferred a tighter fit in the beginning for some support and to help with sensitivity. It’s just best not to blow your budget on new bras and then in a month or two have to do it all over again.
6| If It Feels Weird, Stop
The last thing I want to touch on is individual circumstances.
I notice that when I do any body weight movements, like a pull-up hang, it bothers my lower part of my boobs and pecs. Tons of pressure! Meanwhile, another girl who had the same procedure might not feel a thing and can do assisted pull-ups.
Don’t be a copycat!
Listen to your body.
If it feels weird, get creative and find a new angle or machine or whatever. If you notice you are sore or tender, rest. Your body will communicate to you, but you have to listen to the signals. It’s not worth trying to muscle the reps out and hurting yourself.
Exercise After Breast Augmentation – Week by Week Breakdown
48-72 hours| Low activity. I suggest just walking for blood flow (helps prevent clots) and napping a lot. Your energy will be low because your body is on overdrive to help you heal, you have anesthesia in your body and pain meds make you doped up.
1-2 weeks| As your energy levels start coming back, you will be itching to move a little. My doctor cleared LISS (low intensity steady state) cardio for me with a few stipulations: NO crazy heart rate (still healing) NO hanging on to anything (engages pecs) The best bet here was walking on a treadmill or using the stationary bike.
You also want to be careful not to engage your abs because your incision (if below the breast) is attached to the skin covering the rectus abdominis and you can add stress/tension to that area.
3-4 weeks| I started to feel much more comfortable moving around (minus weeks 2 and 3 where I was super uncomfortable to the touch) so I started with just working some lower body in isolation.
By week 4 I was able to move a bit more freely so I started to experiment with different movements and get more creative. I tried adding in good mornings but held a kettlebell behind my back to keep my arms from hanging with weight. I also started to get a feel for some upper body isolation work but had to be VERY careful because sometimes I noticed it felt tight. (ex. a banded bicep curl squeeze would make my pec tighten just a little.)
5-8 weeks| I was feeling really good and starting to push myself a bit with increasing weight! I started to add in some movements that engaged the core and did more upper body work as I felt safe. I was able to use my upper body for support in bent over movements like glute kickbacks. Shoulder presses, raises and bicep exercises were all okay to do as long as I didn’t engage pecs. Tricep dips put some pressure on my pecs so I opted for the rope pushdown or this version.
Again, if it felt weird I adjusted or skipped. I didn’t directly work the chest at all, but I did train back and just made sure to stay more narrow grip: i.e. narrow rows, narrow reverse grip pulldown.
9+ weeks| I was almost back to normal for strength and hypertrophy within reason. Lower body was on point; it bounced right back and definitely increased my weight (even in compound movements like squats.) For upper body I mainly worked shoulders, arms, back (close grip) and abs but still no direct chest work.
I’m now eleven weeks post op and there are specific things I still can’t do or it feels weird so I just avoid: hanging anything, pullups, dips (heavy), wide lat pulldown (heavy), pushups/bench press/fly. I’m continuing to add weight as long as there is no strain and my form isn’t compromised.
My HIIT training is back in full force, I just typically stick to a lower HIIT and do battle ropes for upper body. I will continue to add more once I can incorporate chest comfortably but I am in no rush.
I feel great and in hindsight, the recovery didn’t feel like eternity. I didn’t lose progress. If anything, my body needed the rest and really bounced back quickly and even surpassed the strength I had before!
The key is to just listen to your body and not stress… we have an advantage with being super fit! Our bodies recover from injury to soft tissue really fast and I think recovery time is dramatically decreased for us!
Just for those of you who are visual learners, here’s a little cheat that outlines what I did and what I avoided based on each stage. Feel free to pin it for future reference!
I hope that covers everything! If I missed something, reach out and I can give you more insight or even revisit this post and add details.