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Topic: Upper body strength with sub-pectoral implants

Forum: Working on Your Fitness —

Conversations about exercise, diet, and getting back in shape after breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Posted on: Jul 12, 2020 03:30PM

Emily12 wrote:

I have been struggling with the decision to have subpectoral implants but for various reasons it seems that this is my only reconstruction option I am looking for feedback and some encouragement from other women who have had similar implants

I had my BMX a month ago and I have had TE since. Currently they are filled with 250ml. I have been working out almost every day however I mostly am able to do lower body workouts. I have not been able to do anything that involves the chest muscles.

I am hoping to get some feedback from anyone who has had subpectoral implants and if you were able to workout and regain your upper body strength, lift heavy, do push-ups etc. I used to be very active and did sports that involved mostly upper body strength and I am very discouraged that I can’t even do a pushup of the kitchen counter top. My pecs are so tight and and I don’t know if I ever will be able to do what I love. Does it ever get better? Any advice what to do to help the process? I am very disappointed with the outlook of my fitness future.

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Jul 12, 2020 09:29PM FarAwayToo wrote:

Somewhat, but I still struggle with upper body strength. I'm almost 2.5 years out of BMX with TE, and almost 2 years from reconstruction. The advice I have is to find a PT or trainer who understands anatomy of sub pec implants.You have to learn to listen to your body. One of my implants rotates, and I'm pretty sure it's connected to the exercise I do or my sleeping position.

It took a year for me to again be able to unscrew tight lids and close the heavy gate of my SUV without wincing from discomfort. I was never able to do push ups correctly, and still can't do them. But even a plank is a challenge, although I'm getting better. If anything, I work on my core muscles more, to compensate for weak pecs. I'm guessing if you were athletic before, you will be able to rebuild, for the most part. Also, I'm not sure if taking implants out would help, because once the muscle is cut, it's just not the same as it was.

Dx 8/31/2017, IDC, Right, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 2, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Dx 9/15/2017, DCIS, Left, 3cm, Stage 0, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 9/29/2017 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxol (paclitaxel) Hormonal Therapy 2/23/2018 Zoladex (goserelin) Surgery 2/28/2018 Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 2/28/2018 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Hormonal Therapy 4/5/2018 Femara (letrozole) Surgery 8/21/2018 Prophylactic ovary removal; Reconstruction (left): Saline implant; Reconstruction (right): Saline implant
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Jul 12, 2020 10:08PM SummerAngel wrote:

I'm 5 years out. I've been lifting weights recreationally for many years, and push ups were one of my favorite exercises. I'm sorry to say that I no longer do them. I could do them, but the pressure on the implants makes them move too far towards my armpits, they're permanently farther apart than when I first healed from surgery. That said, though, I am pretty strong. Not as strong as I once was, but I regularly lift heavy loads (bags of landscaping materials and boxes containing a couple of large boxes of kitty litter are recent examples) and do most upper-body exercises I like. I'm satisfied with my strength. You'll get there, it just takes time.

Age at dx: 45. Oncotype, left-side tumor: 9. Right side had multifocal IDC and "extensive" LCIS. Isolated tumor cells in 1 right-side node. Dx 3/27/2015, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Dx 4/27/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 6/1/2015 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 6/1/2015 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/28/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 12/4/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction
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Jul 13, 2020 01:52AM Emily12 wrote:

SummerAngel, do all chest and back exercises move the implants to the side towards the armpits or only the pushups did that in your case?

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Jul 13, 2020 07:58AM muska wrote:

Hi Emily, I am not an athlete (and never have been), so my experience may of limited value. I am sure someone more athletic will provide more insight, I am just sharing my personal experience because I had the same type of surgery and reconstruction.

I had DMX with sub-pectoral reconstruction seven years ago. I have 500ml implants. It does take a long time to regain the upper body flexibility and strength. You should follow the instructions your plastic surgeon provided with regards to exercise, don't push it or it might cause issues with the implants. My surgery was a while ago and the techniques and guidelines might have changed since, but my plastic surgeon told me at some point that I should avoid or be very careful when doing exercises that use pectoral muscles because they squeeze the implant and strong pectorals will make you feel more uncomfortable. I have avoided exercising pectoral muscles ever since and am doing quite well at the gym and yoga class, but I do avoid equipment and exercises that strengthen pectoral muscles.

Dx at 54 Dx 5/9/2013, DCIS/IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, 7/11 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 6/12/2013 Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 6/13/2013, LCIS, Both breasts Chemotherapy 7/24/2013 AC + T (Taxol) Surgery 2/19/2014 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Hormonal Therapy 3/11/2014 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 3/22/2014 Breast, Lymph nodes, Bone
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Jul 13, 2020 09:52AM - edited Jul 13, 2020 09:55AM by SummerAngel

Emily, some exercises are much worse than others. Planks are so-so, so I only do them occasionally. Lat pulldowns (also one of my favorites) are also so-so, but I didn't give them up, I just do a lighter weight than I used to (60 pounds instead of 80-90). Seated rows are good, as are dumbell rows. I've had good luck with pec flys, too. I just keep the weight down for those. I've found that exercises using dumbells in general are better, easier to manage the weight and how they affect my implants. I do think that muska's doctor has a point. My plastic surgeon said that I had "very strong" pecs when he did my surgery, and exercising the pecs definitely makes it seem like they pull more in general life, but I'm okay with that because I like being strong enough to do whatever I need to do.

By the way, my plastic surgeon told me I could do anything I wanted to do after I healed.

Age at dx: 45. Oncotype, left-side tumor: 9. Right side had multifocal IDC and "extensive" LCIS. Isolated tumor cells in 1 right-side node. Dx 3/27/2015, IDC, Left, 2cm, Stage IIA, Grade 1, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Dx 4/27/2015, IDC, Right, 1cm, Grade 1, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- (FISH) Surgery 6/1/2015 Lymph node removal: Sentinel; Mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 6/1/2015 Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/28/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Silicone implant; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Silicone implant Surgery 12/4/2015 Reconstruction (left): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Fat grafting, Nipple reconstruction

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