Exercising After Breast Lift Surgery – Tips + What To Expect

Written by Timothy McGee, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on July 19, 2021 No Comments

breast lift exercise

With natural aging, the breasts can begin to sag after the connective tissue within the breasts tissues begins to breakdown or become distorted. The loss of skin elasticity, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and significant weight gain or weight loss also contribute to breast sag. Breast lift surgery otherwise known as a mastopexy, reshapes and lifts the breasts, returning them to their youthful perkiness.

To maintain breast lift results, it’s essential for patients to eat well and exercise. However, jumping back into strenuous exercise before the body fully recovers can jeopardize the body’s ability to heal and even negatively impact your results. If you are considering breast lift surgery, here’s what to expect in terms or returning to exercise following surgery.

Exercising Too Soon: What Can Go Wrong?

While some gentle movement immediately after surgery can promote healing, too much strenuous activity can have the opposite effect. A high heart rate, high-impact movement, or too much strain on the upper body can increase inflammation and bleeding. Improper healing may require surgical correction.

Approach exercise after breast lift surgery with mindful attention to how your body feels. Never push past pain. Always consult with your doctor before making significant changes to your workout routine.

Exercising After Breast Lift: A Typical Timeline

It’s important to know that every patient’s breast lift recovery experience can differ based on their individual pain tolerance, body’s recovery response, and the type of breast lift technique used. Your body will heal on its own unique timeline, but the following general milestones can help give you an idea of what to expect. A smart recovery is just as important to your breast lift procedure as selection of a doctor or the surgery itself.

Days 1-7 After Your Breast Lift

The day of your breast lift surgery, you should stand, do some easy walking, and lightly move your arms. This early movement helps stimulate blood flow for improved oxygenation and quicker healing. Even minimal physical movement releases endorphins which improve one’s sense of well-being. Elevated mood is an important variable in the healing process and may help relieve discomfort. Within the first 7 days, do nothing more than slow walking and easy household activities. Avoid heavy lifting and strenuous movement.

  • Gentle walks only
  • Easy upper body movement (limit range of motion of arms)
  • Avoid heavy lifting or exertion

1-2 Weeks After Your Breast Lift

After the first week, slowly increase the length or pace of your walks, but take care to avoid strenuous activity. At approximately week two, most patients are cleared to resume other forms of low-impact cardio, such as stationary cycling or elliptical. Some gentle upper body exercises may be acceptable, depending on the pace of your healing. Wear a supportive sports bra during all forms of exercise.

  • Gradually increase the intensity of walks
  • Add in other low-impact cardio
  • Some gentle arm exercises may be ok (mild increase in range of motion)

2-4 Weeks After Your Breast Lift

Until the 4-week mark or until otherwise cleared by your doctor, continue to avoid high-impact, strenuous activity, including lifting weights over 10 pounds. Most women can add swimming back into their routine after the 3-week mark, or when incisions have fully healed and infection is no longer a risk. Whether from swimming or sweat, make sure your incisions don’t stay wet for too long. Pat dry with a towel and change from wet clothes immediately after exercising.

  • Low to medium impact cardio is ok
  • Gentle arm movement is ok
  • Continue to avoid high-impact, strenuous activity

4 Weeks and Beyond

Most patients are cleared to return to their pre-surgery exercise routine 4 weeks after their breast lift. Be sure to discuss your plans with your doctor before resuming strenuous, high-impact activities. Even after you’re fully recovered, continue to wear a supportive sports bra when exercising. This support helps avoid skin stretching for long term maintenance of your breast lift results.

Recommended Exercises for Maintaining Breast Lift Results

After your breast lift, daily upper body exercises help maintain your new look by strengthening supportive muscles underneath the breast tissue. In addition, exercise and a healthy diet prevent weight fluctuations that contribute to negative changes in the body’s contour.

The following three exercises are easy to perform at home, at the gym, or while traveling. Once the breasts are fully healed, it’s safe to do any combination (or all three exercises) daily.

Plank Holds

Planks are generally known for firming the core, but will also strengthen your arms and chest for firmer looking breasts.

  1. Begin on all fours with your hands planted shoulder-width distance apart. Extend your legs behind you with toes tucked
  2. Engage your core to align your hips between your heels and your shoulders
  3. Maintain pressure in the hands as you hold for 30, 45 or 60 seconds
  4. Take a short rest, then repeat 2 more times


Similar to planks, push-ups keep breasts perky by strengthening the muscles of the chests, lats and shoulders. There are several varieties of push-ups, and all work well.

If full body pushups are too challenging, try them on your knees. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 push-ups daily, or every other day.

Dumbbell Pullovers

If you don’t have a dumbbell, grab any heavy object with a secure grip. You need only one.

  1. Lie on a bench or another firm surface, with the top of your head at the edge, your knees bent and your feet planted. Engage your core to avoid arching your back.
  2. Lift the weight with both hands and hold it with arms extended above your chest.
  3. Slowly reach your arms above your head and toward the ground behind you.
  4. Keep your elbows soft but arms extended as you return the dumbbell to its starting point above your chest
  5. Repeat 7-12 times, and do up to 3 sets

Timothy McGee, MD

Dr. McGee has been practicing plastic surgery for more than 18 years in all areas of the field, including cosmetic surgery and reconstructive breast and facial surgery. Dr. McGee is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He has numerous hospital affiliations in the Round Rock and greater Austin areas and is a member of the American Society of plastic Surgeons, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American College of Surgeons and Austin Smiles.

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