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Exercises After Breast Surgery


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Every woman who has had breast surgery can benefit from exercise after surgery. According to the American Cancer Society:

  • Any of the following surgeries can affect how well you can move your shoulder and arm, take a deep breath, or do your daily activities, like dressing, bathing, and combing your hair:
    • Breast biopsy
    • Lymph node biopsy or removal
    • Breast conservation surgery (lumpectomy)
    • Mastectomy
    • Breast reconstruction
  • No matter what type of surgery you have, it is important to do exercises afterwards. Exercises help to decrease any side effects of your surgery and make you able to go back to your normal daily activities.
    • If you have radiation therapy, exercises are important to help keep your arm and shoulder flexible. Radiation therapy may affect your arm and shoulder for up to 6 to 9 months after it is finished.
    • It is very important to talk with your doctor before starting any exercises so that you can decide on a program that is right for you. Your doctor may suggest that you talk with a physical therapist or occupational therapist. This therapist has special training to help design an exercise program just for you. You may need this kind of help if you do not have full use of your arm within 3 to 4 weeks of surgery.
    • Some exercises should not be done until drains and sutures (stitches) are removed. But some exercises can be done soon after surgery. The exercises that increase shoulder and arm motion can usually be started in a few days. The exercises to help make your arm stronger are added later.
    • We will review in the following links some of the more common exercises that women do after breast surgery. Talk to your doctor or therapist about which of these are right for you and when you should start doing them. Do not start any of these exercises without talking to your doctor first.


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