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Recommendations to Resume Exercise after Breast Lift Surgery

Recovering from breast lift surgery requires patience and a gradual approach to reintegrating exercise into your daily routine. It’s essential to understand that your body needs time to heal and that rushing this process can lead to complications and prolong your recovery. The initial weeks post-surgery are about allowing your body to heal. As you move forward, you’ll gradually reintroduce light activities, slowly working your way back to more strenuous exercises. This journey varies for everyone, depending on individual healing rates, the complexity of the surgery, and your pre-surgery fitness level.

In this blog, Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Bish Soliman aims to provide step-by-step advice tailored to each stage of your recovery, including details regarding when to resume exercise after breast lift surgery.

Breast Lift Recovery Timeline

The recovery timeline after breast lift surgery is a guide to help you gauge when to reintroduce different types of exercise. Initially, your focus should be on recovery, with physical activity taking a back seat. During the first two weeks, it’s important to avoid any exercise beyond gentle walking around the house to maintain circulation. This phase is about ensuring that your incisions heal properly and that your body starts to recover from the surgery.

From weeks 3 to 4, you might feel ready to introduce light activities, but it’s important to continue avoiding anything that could strain your chest or upper body. Activities such as light walking are encouraged, as they promote blood flow without putting undue pressure on your surgical sites.

Around weeks 5 to 8, you can begin to gradually increase your activity level. This might include longer walks, light cycling on a stationary bike, or other low-impact cardio exercises that do not involve bouncing or vigorous movement. It’s also a period to start incorporating gentle lower body and core strengthening exercises, avoiding direct impact on the chest.

Listening to your body is key throughout this process. If you experience any discomfort or signs of strain, it’s a signal to reduce your activity level and consult with Dr Soliman. Regular follow-up appointments are essential to ensure you’re healing as expected and to get professional advice on your exercise regimen.

Please add post op bra for minimum 6 weeks and then 3 -6 months with exercise.

Weeks 1-2 Post-Surgery

The initial two weeks following your breast lift surgery are critical for your recovery. During this time, your primary focus should be on resting and allowing your body to heal. It’s normal to experience some discomfort, swelling, and bruising, which can be managed with medication prescribed by Dr Soliman.

Physical activity should be minimal, limited to short, gentle walks around your home to encourage circulation. This helps in reducing the risk of blood clots and supports the healing process. It’s crucial to avoid lifting anything heavy or engaging in activities that could stretch or put pressure on the incisions.

Ensuring you have a comfortable recovery space set up at home, with essentials within easy reach, will help minimise the need to stretch or strain to grab things. Keep everything you need — medications, water, and entertainment — close by, so you don’t have to reach or move too much.

During this phase, Dr Soliman will likely advise you to wear a post-operative bra or compression garment. This support helps in reducing swelling, supporting the breast tissue, and maintaining the shape of your breasts as they heal.

Introducing Light Exercise

As you move into weeks 3 to 4 post-surgery, your body has begun the healing process, and you may start to feel more comfortable engaging in light activities. It’s still imperative to avoid any exercises or movements that could exert pressure on your chest or disrupt the healing of your incisions. However, introducing light activities during this phase is beneficial for your circulation and overall recovery.

Light walking is an ideal activity during this time. Aim for gentle, short walks, either indoors or in a calm outdoor setting. The goal is not to elevate your heart rate significantly but to maintain mobility and gently reintroduce your body to physical activity. During these walks, pay close attention to how your body feels. Any discomfort, especially around the surgical area, is a sign to slow down or stop.

Stretching can also be beneficial, focusing on areas away from the chest, such as the legs and lower back. Gentle stretching can help maintain flexibility without straining your upper body. Always avoid stretching your arms above your head or making movements that pull on the chest muscles.

Hydration is important during this phase. Drinking plenty of water supports your body’s healing process and helps maintain overall health. Additionally, ensure you’re consuming a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals to aid in your recovery.

Assessing Your Readiness for Exercise after Breast Lift Surgery

Before increasing your level of physical activity, it’s essential to assess whether your body is ready. Signs that you may be ready to introduce more substantial exercises include no pain in the surgical area, no significant swelling, and feeling generally well and energised. It’s also crucial that any incisions are fully healed to prevent the risk of reopening or infection.

Consultation with Dr Soliman before advancing your exercise routine is vital. Dr Bish Soliman can provide personalised advice based on your recovery progress and may recommend waiting longer before increasing your activity level or introducing specific types of exercise.

Listening to your body is paramount during this time. Any signs of discomfort, unusual pain, or swelling should be taken seriously, indicating that your body may not be ready for increased physical activity.

Safe Exercises to Begin with after Breast Lift

Once you’ve assessed your readiness and consulted with Dr Soliman, you can begin incorporating safe exercises into your routine. Focus on low-impact activities that do not involve jarring movements or direct pressure on the chest.

Walking can be gradually increased in pace and distance, but remain mindful of how your body responds. Swimming is another excellent low-impact exercise but should only be considered once Dr Soliman confirms that your incisions are fully healed and there’s no risk of infection from water exposure.

Yoga and Pilates can be beneficial for strengthening your core and improving flexibility, but it’s important to avoid poses or movements that strain the chest or involve stretching the arms too far above the head. Instead, focus on lower body and core exercises, and inform your trainer of your recent surgery to modify poses as necessary.

Light cycling on a stationary bike is an excellent way to increase your heart rate gently without impacting your chest. Ensure the bike is set up so you’re not leaning forward excessively, putting pressure on your chest.

Gradually Increasing Activity

As you approach weeks 5 to 8, you may feel ready to increase the intensity of your exercises gradually. It’s still important to avoid high-impact activities such as running, jumping, or any form of contact sports that could impact your chest.

During this phase, you can start to incorporate more substantial walks, longer cycling sessions, and even low-resistance elliptical training. Focus on activities that increase your heart rate gradually without causing discomfort or strain to your chest area.

Strength training can be reintroduced with caution, focusing initially on lower body and core exercises. Avoid lifting heavy weights and instead opt for lighter weights with higher repetitions. Be particularly mindful of exercises that involve the pectoral muscles or put pressure on the surgical area.

Each step of reintroducing exercise should be approached with caution, paying close attention to your body’s response. Any sign of pain, excessive fatigue, or swelling is a clear indication to reduce the intensity or take a break from physical activity.

When to Start Cardiovascular Exercises after Breast Lift Surgery

By weeks 5 to 8 post-surgery, if you’ve been healing well and have the green light from Dr Soliman, you might consider slowly reintroducing more substantial cardiovascular exercises. Cardio is excellent for improving heart health, boosting stamina, and supporting overall recovery, but it should be approached with caution to avoid putting undue stress on your healing body.

Start with low-impact cardio exercises such as brisk walking, cycling on a stationary bike, or using an elliptical machine without using the arm handles. These activities allow you to control your intensity and avoid high-impact movements that could jostle your chest and disrupt your healing process.

Monitor your heart rate to ensure it stays within a moderate range. The goal is to elevate your heart rate and improve your cardiovascular fitness without overexerting yourself. Wear a supportive sports bra designed for post-surgical recovery to provide adequate support and protect your chest.

Always listen to your body during these exercises. If you feel any discomfort or pain in your chest, stop immediately and consult with Dr Soliman. It’s normal to have some initial fatigue as you reintroduce these activities, but you shouldn’t experience direct pain from the exercises.

Strength Training: Dos and Don’ts

As you approach the latter stages of your recovery, incorporating strength training can help rebuild muscle tone and strength, particularly in areas not affected by your surgery. However, it’s essential to reintroduce strength training carefully to avoid any strain on your healing tissues.

Focus initially on lower body and core exercises, such as leg presses, squats (without weights), and gentle abdominal exercises. These can help maintain muscle tone without impacting your chest. Utilise machines rather than free weights to control your movements more precisely and reduce the risk of accidental strain.

When considering upper body exercises, avoid direct chest exercises such as push-ups or bench presses initially. Instead, if Dr Soliman agrees, you can start with very light weights and exercises that focus on your arms and shoulders, avoiding any pressure on the chest or pectoral muscles.

It’s important to start with lighter weights than you were accustomed to before your surgery and gradually increase the weight as you become more comfortable and confident in your recovery. Always prioritise form over weight to minimise the risk of injury.

Advanced Exercises after Breast Lift

Returning to your pre-surgery workout intensity and routines should only be considered once you have fully healed and with Dr Soliman’s approval. This milestone occurs several months post-surgery, and patience is key to ensuring your long-term health and the durability of your surgical results.

When you do return to advanced exercises or high-impact workouts, reintroduce them gradually. Pay close attention to how your body responds to exercises that involve running, jumping, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Adjust your workouts as necessary to avoid discomfort, and ensure you’re wearing appropriate support to protect your chest.

Returning to pre-surgery fitness levels is a gradual process. It’s important to set realistic goals and celebrate the progress you make along the way. Your body has undergone significant changes, and it may respond differently to certain exercises than it did before. Be open to adapting your routine to suit your body’s new needs and capabilities.

Signs to Pause or Modify Exercise

Throughout your journey back to exercise after breast lift surgery, the most important principle is to listen to your body. Signs that you may need to pause or modify your exercise routine include:

  • Sharp or persistent pain, especially around the surgery site.
  • Increased swelling or redness that doesn’t subside with rest.
  • Any signs of infection, such as fever or discharge from the incisions.
  • Unusual fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest.

If you encounter any of these signs, it’s crucial to stop exercising and consult Dr Soliman. He can provide guidance on whether these symptoms are part of the normal healing process or if they indicate a need for medical intervention.

FAQs about Getting Back to exercise after Breast Lift Surgery

How soon after breast lift surgery can I start walking?

  • Walking is one of the first activities you can reintroduce after your surgery, usually as early as the first week post-operation. It’s advised to start with short, gentle walks around your home to maintain circulation and aid your recovery. Gradually increase the distance and pace as you feel more comfortable and as advised by Dr Soliman. Always listen to your body and avoid pushing yourself too hard.

When is it safe to resume Yoga or Pilates after my surgery?

  • Yoga and Pilates can generally be safely reintroduced into your routine about 6 to 8 weeks post-surgery, provided you focus on lower body and core exercises that do not strain your chest or incisions. It’s important to avoid poses that stretch or put pressure on your upper body initially. Always get clearance from Dr Soliman before restarting these activities and consider working with an instructor who can provide modifications to support your recovery.

Can I wear a sports bra while exercising post-surgery?

  • Yes, wearing a supportive sports bra during exercise is important after breast lift surgery. Initially, Dr Soliman will likely recommend a specific post-operative or compression bra to support your breasts during the early stages of recovery. Once you’re cleared to resume more vigorous exercise, choosing a high-support sports bra that fits well and provides adequate support without being overly tight is crucial.

What are the signs that I’m pushing myself too hard in my return to exercise after breast lift?

  • Signs that you may be overexerting yourself include increased pain around your surgery sites, swelling that doesn’t subside with rest, unusual fatigue, and any new discomfort in your chest area. If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to reduce your activity level and consult with Dr Soliman.

How do I modify my exercise routine if I experience discomfort or pain during a workout?

  • If you experience discomfort or pain during your workout, stop the activity immediately. For future workouts, consider reducing the intensity, duration, and frequency of your exercise. Focus on low-impact activities that do not stress your chest or incisions, such as walking, cycling on a stationary bike, or doing lower body strength training with light weights. Always consult with Dr Soliman if you’re unsure about how to modify your exercise routine or if the discomfort persists.

Further Reading about Breast Surgery with Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Bish Soliman

Medical References about Breast Lift

About Dr Bish Soliman

Dr Bish Soliman - Sydney Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, about us 01 2x
Specialist Plastic, Reconstructive and Cosmetic Surgeon
FRACS (Plas), MS (Plas), MBBS (Hons 1), BCom

AHPRA Registered Medical Practitioner MED 0001679053 Specialist Registration in Plastic Surgery

Dr Bish Soliman is a Sydney-based Specialist Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon who performs aesthetic surgery of the face, breast, and body as well as skin cancer surgery.

He currently holds two consultant microsurgery positions in major Sydney hospitals performing complex microsurgical reconstruction including DIEP breast reconstruction.

After graduating from The King’s School, Dr Bish completed a Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Sydney. After working briefly at a major Sydney finance firm, he decided to pursue his passion and long-term goal of a career in medicine. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame at the top of his class, receiving First class honours and the prestigious Bower and Sherrard medal. He then went on to complete his junior medical training at Westmead Hospital during which time he was awarded Junior Medical Officer (JMO) of the Year, as well as a finalist for NSW Doctor of the Year.

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