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Cosmetic Breast Surgery Do’s & Don’ts For Athletic Women


Breast augmentation is a popular procedure among active women, but it isn’t the only cosmetic breast surgery that women who exercise regularly undergo. Breast reduction and breast lifts with or without implants pose unique considerations for athletic patients.

Anyone considering one of these procedures wants to know how changing the size and shape of her breasts can impact her exercise routine. A common concern for active women regardless of the procedure is how long they need to refrain from exercising.

That’s a top topic on a number of online threads where female athletes discuss breast surgery, such as the Runner’s World community forum where a participant offered this observation: “My biggest recommendation is to invest in a good sports bra. I actually double up because I don’t want all the bouncing.”

So what do you need to know if you’re thinking about cosmetic breast surgery? We offer some advice based on the specific procedure you get:

Breast Augmentation

Getting breast implants may seem counter-intuitive for an athletic woman whose movements might be limited by larger breasts. So why do it? Most likely for the same reason thousands of other women get breast augmentation.

The “benefits are both aesthetic and psychological, as you’re likely to feel more self-confident, sexy and feminine,” says an article in Fitness magazine. “Clothes will fit better and your sex life may even improve.”

There are number of choices for any women getting breast implants, starting with size. The trend toward smaller implants is especially common among athletic women. Going from an A cup to C cup won’t really affect someone’s ability to run, play tennis, or perform just about any physical activity.

Another, somewhat more complicated decision, involves whether the surgeon places the implants above or behind the pectoral muscles. Because many athletic women getting breast augmentation have little existing breast tissue, having implants above the muscle will make them look and feel less natural. But putting them behind the muscle (sub-muscular placement) isn’t necessarily the best option either.

“A few disadvantages to sub-muscular placement are that they can commonly become slightly deformed when the muscle is contracted and return to their normal shape when the muscle is relaxed,” says, a website run by 2 breast augmentation surgeons in Sacramento, California. “This is a potential issue for women who are very thin and for body builders. Also, placement under the chest muscle involves a slightly more painful recovery, but not markedly so.”

The right choice for you basically depends on your body and your goals. An experienced surgeon can help you find the right path.

Breast Reduction

In recent year, professional athletes have made several headlines for getting breast reduction. Romanian tennis player Simona Halep underwent surgery in 2009 to reduce her size 34DD breasts, prompting a number of stories exploring whether large breasts hurt physical performance.

Overly large breasts can pose problems for just about any physically active woman. Those issues range from being self-conscious at the gym or while jogging to the strain heavy breasts put on the neck, shoulders, and back. Breast reduction surgery, in fact, can sometimes be covered by health insurance if a primary care physician diagnoses a patient with chronic pain because of her breast size.

Most women who get this surgery find that whole new activities are open to them that they never did before because they were too uncomfortable. In particular, high-impact exercises such as running and aerobics get a lot easier.

Breast Lift With Implants

Many of the same issues with breast augmentation are present when a patient combines a breast lift with implants. The only unique consideration is the pressure that strenuous exercising can put on the incisions used to perform a breast lift, which involves removing and reshaping breast tissue. These incisions tend to be longer than with a breast augmentation alone, and so the recovery process is a bit longer. The key is to ensure the incisions are completely healed before resuming physical activities.

When considering breast surgery, women need to talk about their fitness routines with their surgeons. While a more feminine figure might be the goal, the unique concerns of athletic women affect surgical decisions, such as incision locations and implant placement. Find a board-certified plastic surgeon who can help you learn about the right way to approach your breast surgery.

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