Those of you who have been reading ModernAthena for a while know that a little over a year ago I underwent breast augmentation surgery. (For anyone wanting to know the reasons why, you can read here – “What Makes Being a Woman Amazing.”) For me, it was and continues to be a positive experience and I am completely happy with my choice.
Over the last year I have been contacted by numerous women considering taking this path and I am always happy to discuss. Lately, I have been contacted multiple times by different CrossFit coaches whose clients have come to them wanting to discuss post-surgery recovery and exercise. In each case, these women were told by their doctors they could not lift weights or elevate their heart rates for three months post augmentation surgery.
So, I am writing this blog to share about my recovery – which is by no means official medical advice – and to hopefully help some other women out there have as positive of an experience as I have had.
First off, there is something you can do before surgery to aid with recovery — I cannot stress how important it is to be on the same wavelength with your doctor. If your doctor tells you you cannot exercise for three months and this horrifies you, that tells me you and your doctor are not of the same mind and end goals. Take your time finding a doctor. If you can, find fellow athlete women who have had the procedure and find out who their doctors are. That’s what I did and I felt very confident my doctor understood my priorities and my lifestyle — I knew it was important to HIM that I be able to exercise and continue being athletic.
Why Do Doctors Say 3 Months?
This is how my doctor, who is one of the top cosmetic surgeons in Beverly Hills, explained it to me. Basically doctors just want to cover their butts and not get sued. There is a condition that can happen with breast implants called “capsular contracture,” which if you have had consultations with surgeons you have hopefully already been told about. Basically the capsule of scar tissue that forms around the implant (which occurs in all implants and is totally normal) starts to harden and contract. Once it happens it is difficult to fix and requires more surgeries. As my surgeon explained, there really is no link between exercise and capsular contracture, but doctors don’t want to risk being blamed for telling someone to work out and having a lawyer somehow link all of it together. If someone is going to experience capsular contracture studies have shown it is going to happen whether you exercise or not – you’re just prone to it.
So When Can You Work Out?
Personally – I was back to working out (modified) 7 days after my surgery. My doctor asked that I not do upper body exercises for 2 weeks and that was his only request. Otherwise, he told me to do anything that felt okay and didn’t cause pain. I was running again in 2 weeks and back to normal weight lifting within a month.
I healed really fast which I credit both to my amazing doctor and also that I was in peak condition going into the surgery. I couldn’t do anything involving my chest muscles for a while and I couldn’t run at first either. Push ups were the last thing I was able to do again and it partly had to do with pain and partly because it just felt really weird and, quite frankly, sometimes still does.
As a Coach, What Do You Tell Your Student?
As a coach, I treat it like a pregnant client — basic rule of thumb is, if it hurts or feels unnervingly uncomfortable, don’t do it. Depending on the incision site, that could mean different things — I had them put in through my armpits, so I couldn’t lift my arms up overhead for a few weeks without pain because all the muscle between my armpit and ribcage had been lifted from my chest wall and need to heal/adhere back down.
I did lots of other things, though – rowing was great, situps were fine, squats and anything lower body, box step ups, etc. The hard things at first were anything too jarring (jumping, running) and anything that engaged the pecs.
One other thing to keep in mind in regards to working out — your surgeon will put you on steroids after her surgery to help your recovery. So, if you work out, drink a LOT of water to avoid muscle cramping. I literally had a calf cramp for two weeks straight – I think that was more annoying than the surgery recovery!
For anyone who is considering breast augmentation or any coaches who have questions, feel free to contact me anytime. I am more than happy to share my experience.
If you are curious about my surgeon, his name is Dr. Minniti.