Cosmetic Surgery Tips

3 weeks post op breast augmentation exercise

Hello, my name is [name] and I am a certified personal trainer and yoga instructor. I specialize in post-operative exercises for breast augmentation patients. I want to share with you some of the exercises that I recommend for you to do after your surgery.

First of all, please remember that your body is going through a lot right now. It’s important that you listen to it and give it some extra care.

Now, onto the exercises!

The first exercise is called “the bird dog.” This is an abdominal exercise that will help strengthen your core muscles and improve your posture. Start by laying on the floor with hands under shoulders and knees under hips (or on all fours if you feel more comfortable). Lift one arm up while keeping the opposite leg down. Hold this position for 10 seconds before switching arms and legs. If you’re having trouble with balance or stability, try doing this exercise against a wall or chair to help support yourself.

Next up is “the bridge pose” which works on your glutes and hamstrings as well as stretching out your lower back muscles (which can get really tight after surgery). Lie on your back with knees bent towards chest, feet flat on ground about hip distance apart (feet should be pointing outwards slightly

3 weeks post op breast augmentation exercise

The amount of time required before you can exercise after breast surgery depends on a variety of factors. This includes the type of breast surgery performed and how carefully you follow post-operative care instructions. Pain and stiffness can cause weakness and limit the movement of your arm and shoulder. Exercise is advised to help increase your shoulder and arm range of motion. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

To help heal the pectoralis chest muscles after surgery, try these 5 post-operative exercises!

  • Types of Breast Surgery
  • What to Expect After Surgery
  • When Can I Exercise?
  • 5 Post-Operative Exercises
  • Additional Recovery Tips

Types of Breast Surgery

Breast surgery is divided into three subcategories: augmentation, reduction, and reconstruction.

  • Breast Augmentation – Enhances the appearance, size, and contour of a woman’s breasts. Some women consider augmentation after size loss associated with pregnancy and lactation. Breast augmentation is performed with implants that can be placed over or under the pectoralis chest muscle. The incision can be placed in the axilla (armpit), areola or lower breast
  • Breast Reconstruction – Recreates appearance, contour, and volume of the breast. Some women choose to have reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy or lumpectomy. If an implant is used, the implant is sized to match the opposite breast. A breast also can be recreated using a woman’s own tissue. Tissue options for breast reconstruction include the back muscle and skin or a segment of a buttocks
  • Breast Reduction – Excess weight can cause neck and back pain, skin irritation, bra strap indentations, numbness, or weakness. This procedure involves removal of excess skin, fat, and glandular tissue

What to Expect After Surgery

After the surgery, you should expect to feel tired and sore. Your surgeon will give you an oral painkiller to ease you through the first few days. You should expect to reduce any strenuous activity for two or three weeks after breast augmentation surgery, including limiting the number of times you raise your hands above your head. This reduction in activity includes exercising and lifting heavy objects.

You may be discharged with one or more drains in place. This small tube is put in the wound to remove extra fluid from the surgery site while it heals. The doctor will decide when the drains can be safely removed depending on how much fluid is collecting each day. Follow your doctor’s instructions on wound and drain care. It may take as long as 1 to 2 years for tissues to completely heal and scars to fade (the scars never go away completely).

For women with breast cancer, you may experience swelling after surgery. This swelling, also known as post-operative edema or lymphadema, can decrease in the weeks immediately after treatment. If you are concerned about your level of swelling, consult with your doctor.

Also, be sure to ask what kind of support garments you should wear. Talk with your surgeon about the type of bra to wear – sometimes it will depend on the type of surgery you had. After you heal, underwires and lace in your bra might feel uncomfortable if they press on scars or rub your skin.

When Can I Exercise?

The recovery period following breast surgery is 4-8 weeks. Patients must be mindful of the healing process and avoid certain activities that might cause injury. Your doctor might suggest you see a physical therapist or occupational therapist to create an at-home rehab program.

It is important to keep moving with light activity, like short walks or stretching. Light activity after surgery will promote blood circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots. Proper blood flow can also speed up the healing process.

woman running on treadmill

After about 2-3 weeks, most patients can return to the gym to ride a stationary bike, walk on an inclined treadmill, or walk longer distances outside. Light cardio can be slowly introduced, allowing patients to get their heart rate up. Continue avoiding strenuous upper-body activities, like swimming, strength training, or push-ups. High impact workouts and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least 6-8 weeks, or until cleared by your surgeon.

5 Post-Operative Exercises

It’s important to get the arm and shoulder moving again after breast surgery. Exercises help decrease the side effects of your surgery and get you back to your usual activities. Prior to performing these post-operative exercises, make sure to consult with your surgeon. If exercises that were previously within your capability suddenly prove too difficult, rest for a few more days before trying again.

Shoulder Rolls

  1. With your shoulders relaxed, slowly roll your shoulders forward and then backward
  2. As you roll them backwards, squeeze the shoulder blades together at the back
  3. Take a deep breath as you do each shoulder roll. Start with 5 rolls every hour and gradually build up to 10 in the first 3 weeks

Shoulder Wings

  1. Place your hands on your chest and raise your elbows out to the side
  2. Limiting your range of motion, slowly lower your elbows down
  3. Finish the exercise raising your elbows only high enough to feel a gentle stretch and no discomfort. Do this 10 times every hour in the first 3 weeks

Arm Circles

  1. Stand with your arms relaxed and lift one arm out from your side
  2. Holding your arm straight, slowly make small, counter-clockwise circles in the air. Use your shoulder muscles to make the movement, rather than your elbow or wrist
  3. Gradually increase the size of the circles until the circles are as large as you can make them without causing discomfort. Repeat 10 times
  4. Do this with the same arm, but this time clockwise. Repeat 10 times. Then switch to the opposite arm

Forward Wall Crawls

  1. Face a wall, standing with your feet six inches from the wall. Place both hands on the wall, keeping your elbows slightly bent
  2. With your head and back held straight, inch your fingers up the wall until you feel a little tension.
  3. Hold this position while you breathe slowly through your nose and out your mouth
  4. Slowly climb your fingers back down the wall to your starting position. Repeat 10 times every 2-3 hours during 4-6 weeks of recovery

Side Bends

  1. Lift your arms slowly over your head, straightening your arms and clasp your right hand on your left wrist
  2. Once your arms are over your head, slowly bend your trunk to the right keeping your arms overhead
  3. Return to the starting position. Slowly bend to the left with your left hand over your right wrist. Repeat 5 to 7 times every 2-3 hours during 4-6 weeks of recovery

exercise timeline after breast augmentation

Many patients ask me when they can work out after breast augmentation surgery. Patients should start light walking immediately after surgery – nothing strenuous, just short walks around the room or home every other hour. This is good for the circulation and helps prevent blood clots. After two weeks, patients can start more intense cardio such as walking on a treadmill or walking uphill. At a month most patients can resume most exercise except heavy lifting. At six weeks, patients are generally completely healed and can resume all exercises.

After breast augmentation, especially with implants under the muscle, I recommend patients try to avoid strenuous chest exercise such as push ups. Since the implants sit under the muscle, contraction places downward and outward pressure on them which, over time can result in the implants dropping or becoming displaced over time. As a general rule, I also tell patients to listen to their bodies – if they do something that causes swelling or discomfort, stop doing it and give it a little more time.

Being someone who has implants and also in the fitness industry, I can tell you that implants shouldn’t impede you from having an active lifestyle. It will be important in your consultation with your surgeon to discuss what sports or exercise you do to help guide your decision when it comes to sizing or implant pocket placement. Definitely use a good supportive bra when exercising and wait until you are fully recovered and cleared by your surgeon before starting any activity.

Exercise is essential to overall health and wellness, but it can also play a key role in healing and recovery if introduced slowly and steadily after surgery. Although Breast Augmentation Surgery can give patients a major boost to their self-confidence, it’s important to not rush back to strenuous activity or the gym too early to celebrate your new body. Depending on your level of fitness and conditioning before your Breast Augmentation, your surgeon will advise you on when and how to integrate the activities you love back into your life.

“I am an avid runner, so I completely understand wanting to return to the gym and working out as soon as possible after surgery,” says Dr. Christine Stewart, a board-certified plastic surgeon with Edina Plastic Surgery. “However, if exercise is introduced too quickly after surgery, you may be doing more harm than good and could even jeopardize your results. You must follow the post-care instructions that outline your exercise and physical limitations after your Breast Augmentation for a healthy recovery and best results.”

Breast Augmentation and Exercise


“The main area of concern your surgeon has with exercising too early after Breast Augmentation Surgery is using the pectoral, or chest muscles, too intensely before healing is complete,” explains Dr. Stewart. “I can’t stress enough the importance of following your post-care guidelines on physical activity and movement restrictions,” she continues. “A lot of patients wish to know why we have these restrictions after surgery. With subpectoral breast augmentation, a portion of the pectoralis major muscle’s insertion is divided in order to get the implant up underneath the muscle. In most women, this will not affect them from a strength standpoint, but that muscle will contract in a slightly different vector, which can end up pushing the implant down and out, affecting the cosmetic result of your surgery. Because of this, it is important not to exert this muscle until there is a normally formed capsule around the implant, which will keep it in place. This normally forms around 4-6 weeks after surgery. Doing high exertion activities too soon after surgery can also cause bleeding or a fluid collection to form. This will require another surgery to wash out the blood or fluid and can increase your risk for capsular contracture, or hard scar tissue that can form around the implant, in the future.”


  • Pull or pushing heavy objects, including lifting children, and moving things around the house
  • Lifting anything more than 10 pounds 
  • Yoga, Pilates, and stretching movements that open your chest or involve pushing and pulling with your chest muscles
  • Strenuous use of arm attachments on popular gym equipment like elliptical trainers or rowing machines
  • Push-ups and pull-ups until your surgeon advises that they are ok
  • Bench press and upper body weight lifting until your surgeon advises that these are ok
  • Playing golf, tennis, or any sports with a heavy emphasis on upper body movement
avoid activities


“Your main focus the first week after your Breast Augmentation should be 100% on RESTING,” stresses Dr. Stewart. “It is still important to walk around your house to prevent blood clots, but strenuous activities should be avoided and you should not be the primary childcare provider for this first week. A breast augmentation is also an investment in time for yourself to heal, so make sure that prior to surgery you arrange the support you need so that you can give yourself that time.”


Most patients are ready to lace up their walking shoes after the first week and reintroduce some light walking for cardio. Low intensity cardio can also include stationary bicycling, but avoid high intensity spin classes. Plan your exercise for cooler times of the day, like the early morning or evening, to avoid sweating around your incisions and over-exertion.


“Weeks two to four can be a danger zone because patients feel over-confident with how well they feel and end up pushing their limits too much,” warns Dr. Stewart. “Remember that your recovery is the most important thing at this point to ensure the best outcome after surgery, so keep activities gentle and prioritize low impact aerobic exercise, no weight lifting, and keep your intensity at about half of your normal exertion.”


Around four weeks after Breast Augmentation Surgery, your surgeon will want to see you again for another checkup to observe your progress and decide if it is safe to add weight lifting back into your exercise regimen. She will most likely still advise you to avoid specific exercises like chest flies, bench press, shoulder press, and push-ups, all of which work the pectoral muscles. However, lower body weight training and arm workouts may be allowed.  Activities that involve running and jumping can be reintroduced at this time, as long as a supportive bra is being worn. Front zip sports bras work well for this. It is always important to ease back into any activities that you were doing to avoid injury.


“Six to eight weeks after Breast Augmentation Surgery tends to be that golden interval of time during which most patients feel good enough to return to normal exercise, and their surgeon feels confident enough about their recovery for them to do so,” says Dr. Stewart. “Athletes and patients who were at an advanced level of physical conditioning before surgery will tend to recover sooner, but they are also the demographic that may try to push their limits too early. Remember, everyone’s healing process and recovery will be different. Be patient and be kind to your body at this time.”

Breast Augmentation and Exercise


“It’s important to listen to your surgeon AND your body before assuming it is ready to safely do everything it did before your surgery, especially at the gym,” says Dr. Stewart. “A patient who was a competitive swimmer in college and is now a coach is going to heal differently than a patient with a minimally active lifestyle who works at a computer all day. You are unique, and your recovery after Breast Augmentation Surgery will be so as well. Your surgeon will be at your side every step of the way to make sure you are set up for success before and after your surgery to ensure beautiful outcomes!”

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