Exercising After Male Breast Reduction: What To Know
Gynecomastia is a medical disorder in men that results in excessive breast tissue and an overall more feminine appearance of the chest. Male breast reduction surgery (or gynecomastia surgery) is one of the most effective procedures for dealing with excessive male breast tissue. This excision-based procedure can be used to reduce and reshape the male chest.
A common question from most men considering male breast reduction is how long it will take for them to resume exercise or strenuous physical activity. While many patients will want to jump right back into the gym, its very important to wait until fully recovered before undertaking any strenuous upper body exercises. Doing too much too soon can result in negative consequences.
Exercise After Male Breast Reduction
After male breast reduction, returning to exercise as soon as possible is healing for both body and mind. In the month after surgery, however, allowing the body to rest and fully recover should be your top priority. Heading back to the gym before the body is ready can slow healing, and may lead to complications that send you back to the operating room.
Gynecomastia surgery is a significant surgical procedure which takes time to heal from. Even after your incisions have closed, underlying tissue could still be healing. To minimize risk, it’s important to move, but to increase activity in a gradual, patient manner.
The timeline below lays out what you might expect after male breast reduction. But remember, no two surgeries are alike and everyone heals on their own timeline. Follow your surgeon’s post-operative advice and always get their approval before making significant changes to your activity level. It’s also essential to listen to your body and phase-in strenuous exercise.
Exercise After Gynecomastia Surgery: A Timeline
The First Week After Surgery
Immediately after your surgery, you’ll be sent home with compression garments and post-surgery care instructions from your surgeon. Wear your compression garments as directed, even when working out.
Rest is most important during the first 7 days. Avoid any activity that raises your heart rate or strains your body. Light walking, however, is recommended. Easy walks of up to 30 minutes may begin as early as the day after surgery. This gentle movement promotes blood flow, which speeds up healing and reduces risk of clotting.
- Do: Easy walks of up to 30 minutes
- Don’t: Let yourself get fatigued or out of breath
After the first week you can slowly begin to build the pace or duration of your walks. Depending on how you feel, add in other forms of low-impact cardio such as stationary cycling, or walking on the elliptical. Avoid running or other moderate to high impact activities, and stay out of the pool.
Upper body involvement should consist of nothing more than light stretching. Arm lifts or side bends should feel easy, and movement should be gentle and slow.
- Do: Gradually build up low-impact cardio
- Don’t: Exercise the upper body
Most patients will need to wait at least until week 3 before seeking approval to lift weights. If cleared, keep the focus on the lower body only. Start with light weight and use machines to better control each movement and reduce risk of upper body injury.
Continue to gradually increase the speed or duration of your cardio, but stick to low-impact movement.
- Do: Introduce light, lower body weight lifting
- Don’t: Exercise the chest and upper body
After one month of recovery, most patients will be cleared for moderate impact exercises. This includes jogging, jump rope or brisk hiking. Wait until you are fully healed before returning to contact sports, or any activity that puts you at risk of bumping or hitting the chest area.
After approximately 6 weeks your surgeon may clear you for a return to upper body strength training. Remember, your muscles won’t be as strong as they were before surgery, so it’s crucial to start light and patiently work your way back to your pre-surgery strength.
- Do: Ask your surgeon before returning to pre-surgery fitness routines
- Don’t: Assume you can pick up exactly where you left off. You may need to begin with lighter weights and less reps, working up to your pre-surgery levels over time.
Post-Surgery Exercise Tips
- Follow your surgeon’s advice regarding compression garments
- In the first 6 weeks, avoid workouts that target the chest, shoulders and upper back
- Listen to your body! If you feel acute pain, stop what you’re doing
- Elevated discomfort, unusual pain or redness should be reported to your surgeon as soon as possible
Most importantly, remain patient. It’s normal to want to get back to the gym, but to reduce scarring and realize the best possible results, the body must heal first. Once you’ve fully healed, maintaining your body weight with diet and exercise is the best way to ensure long lasting results.