By Charity Ohlund – guest blogger and 15-20 mile/week runner

September 2011

You’re putting in several miles a week as an avid runner or jogger, and you’re in great shape.  But there’s just one problem.  You find that you’re a little lacking “up top.”  Perhaps you’re like me, and you’ve had a couple kids.  Or maybe you’re just naturally thin and your fitness routine seems to whittle away fat from all the wrong places.  (Hello?!? Take it from my belly, pleeeeaaase!)

I haven’t undergone breast augmentation surgery – but it has crossed my mind on more than one occasion.  As I was laboring up a particularly steep incline recently, I thought, “I wonder how running this hill would feel with breast implants?”  I also worried, like you might, that breast augmentation would put a damper on the activity that I most enjoy.  Wait, did I say enjoy?  Allow me to clarify.  I enjoy running when I’m done running.  During my runs, I’m just working on not dying.

Anyway, I’m lucky because I know Dr. Kim, and he agreed to let me pepper him with questions about running with breast implants.  Here’s what he had to say:

Q: Okay, let’s get right to the most important question.  What is the down side to getting breast implants if you’re a runner?  And how big can you go?

A:  There aren’t any strong negatives for runners or joggers who want to increase their breast size.  Women will need to take several weeks off from running during the recovery process, and that may be difficult for hard-core exercise lovers.

As for size, you want to ensure that you don’t get implants that would in any way interfere with arm movement.  The forward and backward motion of the arms during running would be hindered by implants that are too large or that have too big of a base for your chest width.  Your plastic surgeon will take several measurements of your chest to determine the proper width.  In general, runners should probably choose nothing larger than a D cup, with a C cup being preferred for more competitive athletes.  But priorities, goals and desires are different for everyone.

Q; How long after surgery before running?

A: Patients often ask me when they can resume running or jogging after their breast augmentation.  There is no rule that states when it is safe to actually go running, and every plastic surgeon has a different opinion.  However, there are some general thoughts regarding this.

First, the most important thing is to actually talk with your plastic surgeon.  Your healing may vary, and the plastic surgeon that operated on you will be able to tell exactly how you are doing in terms of healing.  When it’s looking good, your doctor will give you the green light to go running.  Also, plastic surgeons have different opinions as to when it is safe to resume heavy exercise.

You should be able to resume running approximately 3 to 4 weeks after surgery.  In my opinion, running is defined as jogging and not necessarily sprinting, bolting, or running after small children.

If you are interested in all-out running or marathons, then you may have to wait a little longer before resuming this level of activity.

The thinking behind this is that you want your incisions to be fully healed and have all new skin before running.  Increasing your heart rate, increasing your blood pressure, or sweating, may affect your surgical areas, which is not recommended until skin healing and other signs of healing have occurred.

Q: Will there be long-term pain?  Back pain, arm pain? 

A: Long term, you should not have back pain, neck pain, arm pain, shoulder pain or any other kind of pain while running after your breast augmentation.  “Normal” running does not usually require much upper body strength, so normal running stress should not induce a lot of pain after your breast augmentation.

Q: With all that bouncing around, is there any risk of the skin stretching or damage to the implants?

A: I think there is a theoretical long-term risk for skin stretching after breast augmentation in avid runners.  The reason for this is even with a tight jogging bra, your breasts will have more weight, which will generate more stretching of your breast skin.

I would always recommend wearing a good running bra, and wearing it as much as you can.  Also, even if you’re not exercising, a good bra with support will postpone breast sag.

Running will not cause damage to the implants.  Unlike our “natural” parts, they are built to last.

Q: Is there any preference for breast implants above or below the muscle when it comes to runners?

A: In most average runners, there probably is no difference between above or below the muscle placement.  Below the muscle placement will stretch out the muscle and take a little longer to heal, but it does feel a little more natural long-term, and should not really affect your running.  An average runner simply does not use the upper body enough to make a big difference in terms of above or below the muscle placement.

If you are a sprinter, or someone who runs at a fairly competitive level, or a weight lifter ,then I would recommend placement of the breast implants above the muscle.  This is to ensure that your pectoralis muscles are not stretched with your breast augmentation surgery.

Q: Is there any significant benefit of silicone vs. saline and running?

A: I do not feel that there is any long-term significant difference between getting saline implants or silicone implants and running.  Silicone implants, though they feel more natural, are neither better nor worse in terms of running than saline implants.

Q: Does running with implants increase the risk of capsular contracture?

A: Running while the areas are still healing should not increase the risk of capsular contracture.  Capsular contracture, or excess scar tissue formation, is generally thought to be at increased risk with certain incisions, specifically the areolar incision.  There is also an increased risk if your plastic surgeon does not use antibiotic irrigation during the procedure.  However, running has generally not been associated with capsular contracture after breast augmentation.

Me: Thanks, Dr. Kim! 

So there you have it.  It seems like running after breast augmentation surgery will take a little time, but once you’re fully recovered, you’ve got nothing to fear.  Except for maybe looking too good in a sports bra?

Photo reuse-Original photo credit to Courtney Gault at Picasa.


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