When Can I Return to Exercise After a Breast Reduction?

Is it ok to have some mobility after a breast reduction? I’m a personal trainer, so I'm very active. It’s very difficult for me to sit all day without doing anything. It’s been 5 days since my surgery, and I already feel like I could resume normal activity. I am refraining from heavy activities, because the doctor specifically told me so, but I want to slowly start aerobic exercises now. Will this slow down my recovery time ? Do you think I could potentially damage my breasts?


F, 31, New Jersey

First and foremost, follow your surgeon’s instructions regarding exercise! Most of the time, your surgeon will want you walking the same day, so walking is fine. You should avoid any exercise that will result in bouncing of the breasts. Even light jogging can cause bouncing, so I would stick with walking until the surgeon releases you to do more. 

Strenuous activities or activities that cause the breasts to bounce can cause ruptures along the inside of your incisions or cause the internal sutures to pop. It is important for strong scar tissue to form along these areas to keep your breast tissue in place and as symmetrical as possible. Doing too much, too fast, can lead you to need revision surgeries. 

My suggestion would be to stay mobile, get out and go for a walk and get fresh air, but do not overdo it or take chances. Allow your body time to heal properly. The result will be worth it!

Every surgeon has his or her own guidelines regarding when a patient can resume exercising after surgery. There can be some variation in their recommendations based on how well you are healing postoperatively, your general health and wellbeing, and, if you experienced, any complications during or after the procedure. Your plastic surgeon is the best person to guide you with respect to exercise.

Generally, most patients are encouraged to start with gentle movement such as walking as soon as they feel able and ready: ideally, the day after surgery. The more you are moving and engaging in light cardio, the better. Walking helps to expedite recovery by encouraging blood circulation and decreasing the risks of the occurrence of blood clots. What's more, being active helps you feel better. Some patients experience post-surgical blues and exercise can trigger endorphins, promoting feelings of positivity.

While it is excellent that you are feeling so well five days since your breast reduction procedure, you still need to be very careful with your body in the immediate postoperative phase. You may be able to engage in some very light non-impact aerobics, lower body exercises or walking, but I would avoid any heavy weights or vigorous cardio exercise for four to six weeks.

Engaging in these activities at this early stage in your healing could cause incision separation or bleeding and ,thus,  increase your chance of scarring. Be sure to avoid any exercises that engage the pectoral muscles, such as a side raise or chest press, for at least  four weeks while your body recovers from swelling and discomfort. Ensure you wear a quality sports bra when you exercise.

Dr. Neil Zemmel has 2 Breast reduction before & afters:

Breast reduction before image performed by Dr. Neil  ZemmelBreast reduction after image performed by Dr. Neil  ZemmelBreast reduction before image performed by Dr. Neil  ZemmelBreast reduction after image performed by Dr. Neil  Zemmel

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Hi!  I had a breast reduction with lift, I had it done on a Thursday and by Saturday I was walking, it was at a slow pace, but I was happy to be mobile and after 1 week I was walking my dog at a brisk pace.  I was not able to do any weights for 4 weeks and I could start running after 6 weeks.  

I think brisk walking is fine, but of course ask your doctor....

Good Luck!

Many doctors will suggest being mobile the night of your surgery. Being mobile mitigates the risk of having blood clots form. You should move around a bit and go for slow walks the first week following surgery. Do not lift anything heavier than ten pounds for at least two weeks. After two weeks have passed, you can gradually increase your physical activities until the six week mark, when you should be able to resume your normal daily activities. 


Light movements can be completed the first week, two weeks after the breast reduction, you can return to moderate exercise, and six weeks after the surgery your doctor may release you to return to strenuous exercise. Listening to your body and allowing rest for recovery is key after any surgery.

Recovery after breast surgery varies and is dependent on a woman's age and overall health. Fast walking is commonly approved for most women after 10- to 14-days. It's very important to follow all specific instructions that you were given by your doctor. Light, low-impact aerobics may be resumed in approximately two weeks but the use of your arms should be limited and added slowly to the exercise routine. Damage can be experienced if you rush and begin activities. Tears and damage to the healing tissue and muscles can be painful and harmful.