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Pre and post-breast surgery Physiotherapy and Exercise Physiology.

What are breast surgeries and why do people get them done?

In 2018, the Australian College of cosmetic surgery reported 38,938 surgical breast procedures completed. There are a number of breast surgeries and each surgery can look different for each individual. Some examples of breast surgeries are: 

  • Breast augmentation (surgical intervention to increase the size of breasts) 
  • Breast reduction (surgical intervention to reduce the size of breasts) 
  • Breast reconstruction (surgical intervention to adjust breast size using other areas of the body) 
  • Breast implant removal (removal of an implant)
  • Mastectomy (surgical removal of all breast tissue to prevent or treat breast cancer)

For some people, breast surgery is to prevent or treat breast cancer. For others, it can be to manage chronic back and shoulder pain due to large breasts or increase their breasts’ size due to personal preference. Regardless of the reason for breast surgery, research suggests that all breast surgery patients should access a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist both pre and post-operation. 

What can we do prior to the operation? 

Physiotherapy and exercise physiology assists with improving strength and range of movement prior to the surgery. This ensures that you have good strength and mobility prior to the surgery. This increases the likelihood of positive outcomes post surgery and tend to return to their previous function sooner than those who do not complete “prehab”.   

What can we do post operation?: 

After breast surgery, the surgeon will have restrictions on the amount of movement you can do. This is important to ensure that the tissue heals correctly. Whilst it is important to rest and follow your surgeon’s recommendations, it is also important to link in with a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist to assist with post-op management. Physiotherapists and exercise physiologists correspond with surgeons post-operation to ensure appropriate management is provided. 

Like all surgeries, there are some risks involved such as prosthetic encapsulation, post-operation scar tissue formation, breast oedema, blood clots and respiratory complications. We can assist with managing these complications with upper limb ranging and strengthening exercises, postural education, manual therapy, deep breathing exercises and general lower limb exercises. Research indicates that breast surgery patients should access a physiotherapist on day 1 post-operation to reduce the risk of complications and ensure an adequate return to activities of daily living. 

Additionally, evidence also suggests that posture education and exercises are essential post-operation to prevent muscular imbalances during walking and activities of daily living. 

Post-op exercises will vary depending on the surgeon and the type of surgery. For more information or guidance on pre and post-breast surgery, book in with one of our physiotherapists or exercise physiologists. 



*All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their personal circumstances and seek a second opinion.
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