Friday, December 16, 2011

Heed Your Surgeon's Advice on Exercise

A bizarre article caught my eye this morning about a woman whose breast implant disappeared (the article actually described it as "her body 'swallowed' one of her implants") while she performed a Pilates stretching exercise.  Thinking that this sounded a little strange, I read the article, which appeared on the site TheBodyOdd on a couple of days ago, and was published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Apparently, the woman had several surgeries performed in the past. She was a breast cancer survivor and had a double mastectomy.  She also had a recent surgery to repair her heart's mitral valve, which involved separating some of the muscles that run between the ribs.  It is thought that when the woman attempted the Pilates move, called the Valsalva maneuver, the muscles in her chest contracted and may have pushed the implant through her ribs and into the space between the lungs.  It is felt that this area was fragile after her multiple surgeries, and that tissue was more easily torn.  It has been described as a "freak occurrence".  To view the article:

The good news is that the woman is fine.  Surgeons found the implant and placed it back where it belongs.
But what does all this mean for the the typical women who is considering or already has breast implants? 

First, realize that when stories like this appear, they truly are rare and unusual occurrences. Second, while the article does not mention how long ago the woman had her breast implant surgery, it is a reminder to listen to and FOLLOW the advice you receive from your surgeon. Some complications can be avoided by following this advice. Your Board Certified Plastic Surgeon will give you a time frame in which you are to avoid all exercise, then tell you how soon you can return to moderate exercise, and when you can return to your regular full workouts. The same can apply for your recovery time and when it is safe to return to work, lifting, housecleaning, and even sex. It is easy to return too early because you feel so good, but complications CAN occur if you push the limits too early, or if you "overdo" it.  If there is any doubt, please call your surgeon and ask.