Recently, a number of patients have asked me during their breast augmentation consultations whether the strength of the pectoral muscle is reduced after a sub-pectoral breast augmentation (“unders”).
I can certainly answer from my patients’ experience – very active patients (weight lifters, personal trainers, police women, wakeboarders and others) have not reported any problems to me whatsoever. The best way to answer the question, however, is to double-check the science. Has pectoral muscle strength been tested scientifically after surgery, and what did these tests show?
It turns out that there are two excellent studies on this very issue.
The first, published in 2003 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, tested strength performance on a computerized Biodex 3 isokinetic muscle-testing system. Twenty patients were tested preoperatively, and at 2 and 6 weeks postoperatively. At two weeks postop, 50% of the patients were back to pre-op measurements. At six weeks postop, 70% of patients were back to pre-op measurements. Long-term follow up measurements on 9 of the patients who agreed to return for a follow-up comparison showed full recovery in all 9 patients.
The second study, published in 2004 in the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal, tested both breast sensation and pectoralis muscle function. Again, a computerized system was used to acquire the strength testing data. There was no significant decrease in pectoral muscle strength at 3 months or at 6 months postoperatively in any of the tested movements (flexion, extension and adduction). Implant size did not have any adverse effect on pectoral strength, either.
So there you have it – two good scientific studies that show no permanent changes in pectoral muscle strength related to breast augmentation surgery, once the initial recovery period has been completed.
Another “urban legend” dispensed with!! 🙂