Exercise After Breast Reduction Surgery

Breast reduction surgery is an option for men and women whose breasts are not only a cosmetic concern, but also can cause back, neck and shoulder pain. Also known as reduction mammoplasty, breast reduction surgery involves the removal of fat, skin and tissue in the breasts to reconstruct your breast in a smaller size identified by you and your physician. As surgical techniques improve, recovery time following breast reduction surgery often is reduced. However, your return to exercise activities may take an extended period of time to ensure your chest tissue has sufficient time to properly heal.


Swelling and inflammation is common following breast reduction surgery. To minimize this swelling, your physician will recommend you sleep on your back with your chest elevated to minimize swelling. At this time, exercise is not advised because exercise can be jarring to your breast tissue because of the risk for bleeding and swelling. After the first two weeks following surgery, you may begin walking for exercise to help you burn calories. Because walking does not place excess strain on your chest wall, it is the best exercise to perform in the month after surgery.

Listen to Your Body

After obtaining your physician's approval, you can begin to return to the typical exercises you engaged in before surgery. Start small with lower-impact activities such as using an elliptical machine or riding a stationary bicycle. Listen to your body; if you begin to experience pain or discomfort with exercise, cease performing the exercise. Experiencing post-exercise swelling also can indicate you have overdone your exercise routine.

Exercises to Avoid

Until you are sure your chest tissue has thoroughly healed, you should avoid certain exercises known to disrupt the chest wall. Aerobic activities such as rowing, swimming or running can be jarring to the breast tissue and can cause pain after surgery. Chest-strengthening exercises such as the bench press, chest fly or chest presses also can place too much strain on the chest and should be avoided for at least one to two months following surgery.


Avoid performing activities that involve a possible blow to the chest, such as football, basketball or soccer, for at least four weeks following surgery to prevent injury to the chest area. When you do begin to engage in strenuous exercise again, be aware of signs that you are experiencing surgical complications. These include shortness of breath, chest pains or a feeling that your heart is beating out of rhythm. While it is normal to experience a greater level of fatigue following breast reduction surgery, other symptoms can signal more serious complications.

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