Weights & Bras Post Lumpectomy and SLNB

Good morning

I had a lumpectomy and SLNB five weeks ago. Everything is healed and fine and I am luckily not having any problems at all. As I had a SLNB I am a bit concerned about causing lymphoedema and so wanted to know when it is safe to lift weights again? I’m keen to restart strength training and do the exercises I used to do which includes push ups and planks, is this too much strain on the area or is this okay if it feels fine? Also, if they are comfortable and not rubbing on any scars, are underwire bras okay now?

Thank you so much in advance :slight_smile:

1 Like

Hi southwest123,

Thanks for posting your question. It’s good to hear that you are healing well after your surgery for breast cancer.

Many people worry about restarting exercise after surgery and when it may be safe to lift weights. This will vary depending on the surgery you have had and the activity you were doing before the operation. The risk of developing lymphoedema after having a sentinel lymph node biopsy is very low, and keeping active helps to reduce this risk further. However, it is important to start slowly and build your activity back up over time. How long this takes will be guided by your body and how you are feeling. It’s also important to talk to your treatment team or breast care nurse before returning to exercise so they can guide you.

You may find our Facebook Live about exercise after breast cancer helpful to watch. Jen McKenzie, a breast cancer physiotherapist, also has a video about lifting weights after breast cancer treatment which may be helpful for you.

You can ask your breast care nurse if you can be referred to a physiotherapist for advice about returning to exercise. Some hospitals have rehabilitation programmes to help people learn which exercises are safe for them following their treatment.

Once your wounds have healed, it is ok to wear an underwired bra, if it is comfortable for you. You can find some information about post-op bras here.

You may be interested in our Moving Forward resources that are for people who have had a diagnosis of primary breast cancer and have come to the end of their main hospital treatment within the last 2 years. They include our Moving Forward booklet and Moving Forward courses. The courses cover many areas of life after cancer, such as exercise, diet and coping emotionally.

We also offer a range of free supportive services for anyone who has had a diagnosis of breast cancer which you may be interested in. They include face to face and online courses and events. For more details about all of these services, please see the information in the link.

Do call our helpline if you would like to talk this through or have any further questions. The helpline team have time to listen, talk things through and signpost you to more support and information if necessary. Your call will be confidential, and the number is free from UK landlines and all mobile networks. The number is 0808 800 6000, (Relay UK -prefix 18001).

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Best wishes


Breast Care Nurse

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