Common Concerns About Breast Implants For Runners
Female runners, athletes, and fitness enthusiasts may have special concerns or considerations about undergoing breast augmentation. This topic has arisen with many of my patients, some of whom have been in a variety of professional fitness competitions. I have performed breast augmentations for female boxers, weightlifters, soccer players, marathon runners, and countless other female athletes.
There are factors to consider for each woman and her preferred fitness activities. I work closely with my breast augmentation patients to learn their needs and adapt the procedure accordingly. With careful and intelligent decision making, female runners can get breast implants to enhance their figures without having to worry about any negative impact on their running.
Durability of Breast Implants when RUnning
Some female athletes wonder whether breast implants are durable enough to withstand the physical stresses associated with sports. These medical devices are in fact incredibly strong and durable. Breast implants can withstand major trauma (even slamming into the steering wheel in a car accident) without rupturing in many instances. There is no reason to avoid breast augmentation due to concerns over the ability of your breast implants to withstand strenuous physical activity.
Placement of Breast Implants for Runners
I usually place breast implants in a subpectoral position (underneath the chest wall muscles). The chest muscles cushion and pad the implants, giving a more natural look and feel. For runners, this may also help to provide more long-term internal support for the implants.
However, weightlifters or athletes who use their chest muscles need to understand that with subpectoral placement, contraction of the pectoralis muscles can distort or shift the implants temporarily. This is not harmful, but it is possible that you will consider the resulting appearance less than desirable. Alternatively, I can place the implants in a subglandular position (above the chest wall muscles). In this case, the appearance of the breasts would not change much when using the pectoral muscles during physical activity.
I will help you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of subpectoral versus subglandular augmentation based on your needs and desires.
Type of Breast Implants for RUnners – Silicone versus Saline
Fitness competitors and runners, who are often very thin, may want to consider silicone implants rather than saline implants. Silicone implants are softer than saline and tend to portray a more natural appearance. The softer silicone implants are especially beneficial for women with little fat or natural breast tissue to cushion the implants during activities involved in physical competitions.
Breast Implant Profile – High versus Low
I have operated on many runners who specifically request that I avoid excessive fullness on the sides of the breasts, in order to minimize any problems with arm movement while running. One way to reduce “spill-out” to the sides of the breasts is by selecting a higher profile implant (narrower base with greater forward projection). This option should be carefully considered in conjunction with what would appear most natural for the patient’s anatomy.
One of my patients, an avid marathoner, was “scared of losing my running stride and ability” after breast augmentation, yet she still wanted “to look more feminine.” We discussed her concerns and developed an excellent surgical plan for her. She wrote me a couple months later to say, “I feel great. I just completed the L.A. Marathon and the twins (my new breasts) were great!”
Choosing an Appropriate Breast Implant Size for Running
It is important to remember that larger implants are heavier, which can be an issue for long-distance runners. Overly large implants can shift the center of gravity and may affect breathing, reduce speed, limit maneuverability, and lead to breast pain or pressure on the spine, neck, and back. On the other hand, implants that are appropriately sized can provide aesthetic enhancement without such compromises. Choosing an implant size that’s appropriate for the patient’s anatomy can help to prevent discomfort related to sports and training as well as prevent unwanted stretching of the tissues. It will also likely produce more pleasing and natural-looking results.
Running with Breast Implants
Some women worry whether their implants will force them to change fitness activities. This does not have to be the case! There is absolutely no reason a female athlete should feel compelled to stop running after a well-planned breast augmentation.
However, there will need to be some temporary training adjustments, including stopping all running and strenuous physical activity for a short while during recovery. With the proper timing and “listening to your body”, you should still be able to run with breast implants for however many 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, full marathons, or other distances you choose.
Getting Back into Running After Breast Augmentation
Immediately after surgery, female athletes will need to avoid exercise for several weeks. A minimum of four to six weeks (limited to light activities only) will allow your body time to recover. It is best to schedule your procedure between training periods for races or other competitive events, especially knowing that postoperative limitations on exercising may cause you to lose some ground in your training. Once I have cleared you for exercise, don’t do too much too soon – slowly and gradually build back up to where you want to be.
During recovery, a compression bra can be worn to minimize “bounce” while the breasts heal. Patients should avoid underwire bras until the breasts have fully healed. Before resuming strenuous exercise, get a proper professional fitting for a sports bra with extra support. Many athletes prefer racerback-style bras to hold everything in place after breast augmentation.
There may be a slight adjustment period as you become acquainted with your new figure and begin running with your new breasts. Nonetheless, you can ensure a successful experience by making the correct choices for your procedure and following your postoperative instructions for recovery and exercise.
Any woman may seek breast augmentation regardless of her athletic activities or physical demands. It’s important to select a plastic surgeon (certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery) who will take the time to understand your specific needs and desires, and who will then create the ideal surgical plan for you. To request your personal consultation, contact us at (714) 835-2825.
This article was originally published in 2012 but was updated with the latest information for 2019.