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athletes and breast augmentation

Can Female Athletes Undergo Breast Augmentation?

When it comes to cosmetic breast surgeries, the procedure most commonly associated with female athletes is a breast reduction. For years, athletes, doctors, and fans have attempted to answer this question: Do breasts get in the way of athletic performance? A few years back, ESPN The Magazine even published a special section interviewing female athletes, suggesting that breasts do indeed hinder sports performance: “According to the story, every cup size adds nearly half a pound per breast, creating a physics dilemma. Because of this, some well-endowed pro golfers get special swing advice, and a number of Olympians get breast reductions.”

In fact, even athletes who aren’t playing at an elite level can struggle with having larger breasts. The Huffington Post reports that a study of D-cup joggers by the University of Portsmouth found that “inadequate breast support affects a female’s running kinetics, which may have negative physiological consequences on sports performance.”

So, we get it: breasts have a bad rap when it comes to sports, and the general consensus seems to be that breast reductions can, in many cases, improve athletic performance. However, focusing attention specifically on breast reduction for athletes leaves out a rather large subsection of athletic women who want to move in the opposite direction, and augment their breast size instead.

Is this counterintuitive? Well, as Denver plastic surgeon Gregory Buford explains, “women who regularly engage in athletic activities often find that their breast size is affected by any accompanying weight loss, as breasts are partially composed of fatty tissue. To maintain a feminine figure while engaging in a serious exercise regimen that lowers body fat percentage, athletic women may choose breast augmentation.”

As with any choice to enlarge or reduce your breasts, the decision should be accompanied by careful conversations with your plastic surgeon. However, it’s important for female athletes to understand that it is possible for them to undergo a breast augmentation if it’s right for them.

What Kind of Athletes are Good Candidates for a Breast Augmentation?

First, as Houston breast augmentation expert Dr. Charles G. Polsen explains, “the best breast augmentation candidates are those who have realistic expectations of their final results. If you are healthy and able to withstand major surgery, you should be a good candidate for breast augmentation. There is no age limit for those who can undergo breast augmentation, but it is essential that the breasts be fully developed before any cosmetic procedures are performed.” At the most basic level, the rules for female athletes are similar to any other woman who wants a cosmetic procedure: You need to be healthy, of good age, and in a position to have a major surgery successfully.

If these criteria have been met, there are a few other surgical consequences that a female athlete may need to deal with when compared to a less physically-active woman. For one, female athletes rarely undergo an augmentation for utility or to improve sports performance. There just aren’t that many scenarios where on a purely physical level, large breasts will somehow increase your ability to run faster or hit harder. After all, they’re extra pounds of fat. However, on a psychological level, the implants might help an athlete who’s self-conscious about her appearance, or literally unhappy as a result of her emotions toward her body. If implants can help rectify that anxiety, the positive emotional well-being could very well transfer into an athletic performance.

For this reason, smaller implants are a more common choice for female athletes, according to Women’s Fitness: “Going from an A cup to a C cup won’t really affect someone’s ability to run, play tennis, or perform just about any physical activity.” For elite, elite Olympians, this difference could be significant, but for the average recreational athlete, small implants will most likely not drastically change the quality of performance.

What questions should female athletes ask their surgeon?

As with any lifestyle-defining activity, the pre-surgery conversation about your breast augmentation will change based on your level of physical fitness and activity.

Placement: Buford notes that “in certain activities, such as racquet sports, golf, or weightlifting, the body mechanics involved may increase the chances that an implant will be noticed. An implant interferes less with muscle activity and is not as visible when placed under the muscle, but the surgery takes longer and requires more recovery time an an implant placed above the muscle.” Particularly depending on the sport, ask your surgeon what the optimal placement will be with your transplant, and whether or not the recovery period is worth the long-term aesthetic and functional results.

Recovery: The recovery period-post surgery is an important time: Your body will be recovering from a major trauma, and truly needs the time and care to heal. Often, that means reducing your exercise level. Ask your surgeon what his rules for the recovery period are, and what he recommends when it comes to easing back into your sport. Fitness writer Becca Jenkins also notes that during her breast augmentation, hydration was key: “The post-surgery steroids caused a week-long calf cramp in my right leg that might have been alleviated had I been more tuned into my extra need for water during that time period.”

Willingness: Not every professional surgeon has the same feelings about breast augmentation for athletes. Indeed, there’s a wide diversity of opinion, and some surgeons won’t perform an augmentation for female athletes in any scenario. Make sure that your surgeon is familiar with a variety of exercise routines, and is comfortable with your level of physical activity before entering into any type of relationship.

There’s advantages and disadvantages to having larger breasts, whether you’re an athlete or not. The most crucial rule is feeling happy and secure in whichever decision you make.

Questions? Comments about undergoing a breast augmentation as a female athlete? Leave a comment in the section below, and we’d be happy to help you learn more!

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