Summary: When considering breast augmentation, women need to address their fitness routines with their surgeon. While a more feminine figure might be the end goal for most patients, athletic women have unique concerns that affect the size and placement of the implants. Learn about the right way to approach your breast augmentation, if you’re going to maintain a high-level of physical activity.

breast augmentation, athletic women,
Breast Augmentation for Athletic Women

Active women considering breast augmentation commonly worry that the implants could affect their workouts long after the initial recovery. Questions from athletic women about whether larger breasts become a nuisance for runners or weightlifters pepper plastic surgery and fitness websites.

It’s an interesting dilemma, especially given the attention generated in recent years by some competitive athletes getting breast reduction surgery to help improve their performances. And at least one study shows the performance of non-competitive runners with large breasts is hurt by their physiological characteristics.

So why would women who consider physical fitness activities such as running, weightlifting, or hiking want to hinder their abilities with breast implants? The answer, it seems, is fairly obvious — for the same reasons other women get breast augmentation. The “benefits are both aesthetic and psychological,” an article in Fitness magazine says, “as you’re likely to feel more self-confident, sexy, and feminine. Clothes will fit better and your sex life may even improve.”

Although the motivation for getting breast augmentation is the same, athletic women have unique concerns that affect the size and placement of the implants. For example, a 42-year-old woman who described herself as “very sporty” with size 34 AA breasts posted a question on the plastic surgery forum RealSelf asking whether getting 175 cc implants was “pathetic.” Concerns about going “too big” are a common theme among athletic women who post on the RealSelf site, which connects board-certified plastic surgeons with patients considering cosmetic procedures.

Qualified surgeons always consider a patient’s body frame and lifestyle factors during the consultation. The Plastic Surgery Group, whose surgeons specialize in breast augmentation in Albany, New York, reminds patients on its website that “going too big has its drawbacks. A woman’s original breast size and skin may limit how large an implant a woman should have. If an implant is too large, it can make the breast look unnatural.”

When a patient is athletic, surgeons should address the unique needs of someone who exercises regularly, says a blogger writing for the website Breaking Muscle.

“First and foremost,” writes Becca Borawski Jenkins, “find a doctor who understands fitness is important to you. Don’t go to a doctor who told you in your consultation you shouldn’t work out for 3 months after surgery. If a doctor says that, go somewhere else. If he/she tells you you’ll never do push-ups again, go somewhere else.”

When any woman gets implants, there are plenty of decisions to make beyond the size of the implants. Should they be saline or silicone? Round or shaped to resemble a breast’s natural slope? Where should incisions be made?

Of all the choices, however, the one that seems to generate the most conversation among active women considering breast augmentation is where the implants are placed. There are really 2 choices: behind the existing breast tissue but above the pectoral muscle, or behind the muscle. Again, the decision is influenced not just by a patient’s exercise habits, but by her existing anatomy.

“Placement of implants is particularly important for women focused on muscle development and this depends largely on how much existing breast tissue you already have,” the Fitness magazine article notes. “For the serious sportswoman with very developed pectoral muscles this is a particularly important decision that needs to be made in conjunction with your surgeon.”

One of the surgeons at The Plastic Surgery Group, Dr. Jeffrey Rockmore, addressed this specific issue in an answer he posted on the RealSelf website.

“There are advantages and disadvantages to either location. For most women, a subpectoral, or under the muscle, position is the best option,” Dr. Rockmore says. “This gives better coverage of the implant to minimize superior and medial rippling and creates a more natural slope of the breast. For women who are weightlifters, or extremely active, implants can be placed in front of the muscle as long as they have significant thickness of the soft tissue of the chest.”