After Breast Implants, Can I Exercise My Chest Muscles?

Whether it’s a Jillian Michaels DVD in my living room, yoga in the bedroom, or lifting weights in the gym, I’ve really come to enjoy all types of different exercise routines—which is why I got really worried after a lady at the gym told me I could never do chest exercises again if I were to get breast implants.

Yikes!

Two of the most common questions I hear from women concerning breast implants and exercise are, “How long do I have to wait after my breast augmentation to start working out again?” and, “What exercises should I avoid with breast implants?”

I’ll jump straight to the point.

There are cautions to take, but no formulas to follow when it comes to working out with breast implants.

I’ll be the first to admit that doing chest exercises after an augmentation is a really controversial topic. I know bodybuilders with implants who won’t train their chests and office professionals who swear that bench presses keep their breast implants perky.

The theories are all over the map, and it’s obvious that there’s no universal answer.

Overs vs. Unders

One variable in the debate is whether or not “Overs” and “Unders” are differently affected by chest exercises. Overs, or subglandular breast implants, are placed over the top of the pectoralis major, and unders, or submuscular implants, are placed under the pectoralis major. (see diagram below)

With Unders, valid concern is raised with exercises that flex, compress, and put resistance on the breast implant itself. And with Overs, the concerns lays in that a growing chest wall under the breast implant could cause it to shift.

Ultimately, most doctors agree...

It’s certainly possible that over development of the chest muscles or sudden impact could dislodge or displace an implant whether a woman has Overs or Unders.

In fact, there are many women have never had any trouble with chest exercises, and there are many who have reported negative consequences within a year of a breast augmentation—regardless of having Overs or Unders.

Personally, I am an advocate for compound chest exercises.

These are exercises that use moderate-resistance such as pushups (modified or regular) and bench presses. These are the types of exercises that I personally do, and I have never felt any pain or experienced any trouble as result. I also avoid isolation exercises such as chest flies and high-resistance exercises like dips and pull ups.

Again, the best advice I can give you is to listen to your body and not to over do it on the amount of resistance you use on chest exercises. I hope this helps!

Thoughts from Dr. Jeremy Pyle

Exercise after breast implants is different in everyone and each doctor will have specific recommendations on what to do and when.

After breast augmentation, your body will build a wall around your implant to keep it separate from your body. That wall, called a capsule, is really helpful because once it's formed, it keeps the implant in the position we want it. That capsule can stretch because of the weight of the implant, because of a person's tendency towards weak scar tissue, because the surgeon made the space too big or otherwise.

It can also stretch because every time a strong pec muscle flexes, it puts pressure on that capsule. In the first 6 weeks, that capsule is weak but getting progressively stronger. After 6-8 weeks, it's strong enough in most people to resist most forces.

That's the time I recommend people to ramp up exercise if they want to but I ask that they look and listen and if things are changing, to call and let us know so that we can figure out an individual plan.