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Welcome to Week One of The Chrysalis Method:

Let your recovery begin! 

     We hope your surgery was successful and that you are ready to begin your recovery period. This first week requires first a commitment to rest. We have some basic movements explained and demonstrated below that will help keep your blood flowing, but for the first 48-72 hours, your focus needs to be on getting adequate rest. Scroll down to watch this week's movement video and read a lot of important information about what's going on with your body this week, including the emotional roller coaster you are likely experiencing. Congratulations to you! The hard part is over. 

     Remember to go to the forum as the first few weeks are the most intense emotionally and support from other women in the Chrysalis family is critical! Click here to go straight to the forum.

Exercise Protocol for Post-Op Breast Surgeries

Every woman’s procedure is unique. Every surgeon’s technique is unique. Every single recovery is unique. This program was designed to give women general guidelines to follow to maintain fitness, reduce post-op complications from occurring, and most importantly provide an emotional support group for all women to have as an outlet for questions and concerns while feeling part of a community avoiding isolation.

Your surgeon is the expert for your procedure, what exactly was performed, and what specific restrictions you should follow for your specific case. Only your surgeon knows exactly what tissues were cut and how your body responded during the surgery. It is important that you continue to listen to your surgeon’s precautions and follow his/her recommendations for your follow-up to ensure proper tissue healing and optimal recovery.

This program is a guideline to follow for lower body movements to keep you active during your recovery. Once your surgeon gives you permission to begin using your upper body, you will have access to unlock upper body movements that will gradually increase your range of motion back to normal as well as regain your strength.

Precautions for 4-6 weeks per most surgeons:

  • NO lifting, pushing, pulling more than 10 pounds. If you have a baby, toddler, or child this goes for holding him/her as well. You will need to make modifications to care for your child/children during this acute phase of healing. (Samples of things weighing about 10 pounds: average 3-month-old baby and older, a gallon of milk (1 ¼ gallon), sack of potatoes, large bag of sugar/flour, large watermelon, a holiday ham or turkey, most cats/dogs, most vacuum cleaners, laundry basket filled with towels or jeans, etc.)

    •  If you MUST hold your baby/toddler and do not have anyone to assist you, keep your arms/elbows in tight to your sides and keep the child close to your body. In other words, do not reach out and/or hold the child away from your body as this will cause added strain on your muscles and potential harm.

  • NO jumping, running, bouncing (Even if you’re a marathon runner and you want to get back to running ASAP, you can’t do this until your surgeon gives you clearance which will typically be a minimum of 4 weeks post-op)

  • Caution must be taken with any activities engaging your core. Again, we want to make sure the incisions are healed completely before activating your core. Many incisions are made below the breasts which attaches to the same skin that covers your stomach muscles. You don’t want to compromise the healing incisions so make sure to take caution when activating your stomach muscles. This is hard to do when your core is the center of everything. Just don’t do any specific abdominal exercises like crunches/planks/sit-ups/etc.

  • Wear a nice supportive bra when performing any physical activity. Your surgeon will tell you whether he/she recommends you wear a bra at rest during recovery. Different surgeons have different preferences on this so it’s always important to specifically ask your surgeon about how much and what type of bra you should be wearing post-op.

  • As always-follow YOUR surgeon’s protocol and make sure you use caution in the very early days to let the incisions heal. Once the incisions are healed completely and there are no stitches, you can then perform cross-friction massage to the scar to lessen the scar tissue. Again-ask YOUR surgeon when this is okay to do for your specific case. It will be several weeks before your incisions are completely healed to perform any cross- friction massage.

The First 24-72 hours after surgery:

You’re going to feel sore as soon as the pain meds and anesthesia wear off. Your surgeon will want you to rest the first 48 hours and get plenty of fluids. You will feel bloated and swollen and this is completely normal! Please don’t look in the mirror and get discouraged. Listen to your surgeon’s advice and keep your bandages intact until told to do otherwise. You are beautiful, and your body has just undergone a major surgery that will require time and patience to heal.

The best way to track your results in regards to swelling and water retention is taking measurements. Use a measuring tape if you’d like to track swelling. It is not recommended to use a scale with your weight as a means of tracking. This number can be obscured and give you a false sense of discouragement due to water retention that is common after surgery.  It will take time for the swelling to go down and all the fluid retention to dissipate. Your skin will be likely tight, swollen and look different from the end result.

  • I gained a solid 10 pounds after surgery and got so discouraged when I stepped onto the scale. I later realized that it was much harder to cope with the other emotions I was experiencing. Increased stress causes elevated levels of cortisol which is a hormone that also makes you crave unhealthy foods. It’s a vicious cycle that you want to avoid.

Make sure you drink plenty of water (8-10 Full Glasses) EVERY DAY! You will want to flush out all the toxins from surgery and keep your muscles hydrated for a full recovery.

Be sure to check out our blog post on the importance of staying hydrated here, and be sure to go to the nutritional guidance section to read about hydration and important nutrients for your recovery. 

Get up and walk a short distance (think to and from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room) in your home the day of-72 hours post-surgery. Your chances of a blood clot are highest 2-10 days post-op but walking and moving your legs will help prevent this. After 72 hours you should be increasing your activity level enough that you will be decreasing your odds of developing a blood clot due to inactivity.


If you have any of the following risk factors, you are more likely to develop a blood clot and additional caution should be taken to prevent one from occurring.

  • Previous history of a blood clot

  • History of smoking

  • Overweight or obesity

  • Have a condition that affects your blood vessels

  • Older age

  • Have specific types of cancer

  • Pregnancy

  • If you’re on certain types of medicines including some types of birth control and hormone medications

Weekly Tip:

If you’re sleeping in a reclining chair or elevated in your bed (your surgeon most likely has asked you to sleep on your back elevated for the first week or longer), make sure you:

  • Put a TV tray table, night stand, or some other sort of table right next to you within a close hand’s reach. 

  • Keep a large bottle of water and your meds close by within reach. 

  • It’s a good idea to keep your laptop, a book, TV remote, your cell phone, anything you will use to pass time all close by. There’s nothing more frustrating than needing one of these items and not being able to get to them in these early hours/days of recovery! 


Movements Week 1

Movements: Day 2-3

The first 24-72 hours post-op is critical for rest and prevention of blood clots as stated previously. In addition to keeping mobile with short walks to/from your bathroom, you can perform basic range of motion in your legs to keep fluid circulating. You can perform these in lying on your back in bed or in a chair. Please perform these at least 2x/day the first 2 weeks. You can perform them in bed before getting up as well as when you lie down to rest to ensure you’re getting them twice/day. See the video above for demonstrations on how to properly perform the movements. 

  • Ankle Pumps

    • Lying on your back or in a chair, bend your ankles up towards your head and back down towards the floor or away from your head. (Pointing and flexing your ankles up and down). Perform these pumps slowly holding each stretch for 5 seconds in each direction. 2-3 sets of 20 reps 2x/day!

  • Heel Slides

    • Lying on your back or in a reclining chair, bend your knees and hips up towards your head and then straighten your legs back to neutral. You’re essentially sliding your heels up and down (towards your head and away from your head). Perform these heel slides after your ankle pumps daily. 2-3 sets of 20 reps 2x/day!

These two movements are mostly for maintaining range of motion in your legs and keeping the fluid moving in your extremities to reduce risk of blood clots and decrease swelling. They might seem simple, but they are very important for everyone.

Week 1 @ Day 3-Day 7 

See above for first 72 hours post-op. The first 2 weeks are a little different since each individual day is so unique in the healing process this early on.

The most important part of your recovery during this early stage of recovery is healing. If you overdo anything, you will not heal properly, and you can compromise your implants or surgical incisions. Listen to your body! You know your body better than anyone else. Everyone is different, and everyone heals at different rates. Just because your friend said she could do something after one week doesn’t mean you will be able to and it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong either.

During this phase, the emphasis is on lower body exercises to maintain strength and endurance without compromising the incisions. Basic range of motion of the upper body is still important and should be implemented daily if your surgeon gives you the okay. Don’t be afraid to move your arms, however use extreme caution maintaining your precaution of not pushing/pulling/lifting anything more than 10 pounds during these first few days/weeks post-op. Here are some common items weighing about 10 pounds that you should avoid: 

sack of potatoes
average 3-month old baby
laundry basket w/laundry
medium-sized cat or small dog
vacuum cleaner
bag of trash

Using your arms for normal activities while maintaining your precautions is fine and encouraged if there is no weight involved. This will help keep your muscles from developing a contracture, a spasm, will decrease chances of an encapsulation, and decrease chances of nerve entrapment. Just remember not to do any crazy stretching or use anything weighted during this first week! (This includes carrying groceries, lifting a child, pulling down a rear car door, reaching into something such as a freezer, pushing a grocery cart, etc.)

  • On day 3
    (72 hours after your surgery) start adding a little distance to your walk. Instead of just walking to/from the bathroom. Start walking gradually increased distances in your house. Start with one lap around your home (about 100 feet) 3x/day at a slow pace. 

    • Continue Ankle Pumps shown in video

    • Continue Heel Slides shown in video

  • On days 4-5
    Increase this distance to 2 laps (200 feet) 3x/day, but still at a slow pace. ​

    • Continue Heel Slides shown in video

    • Continue Ankle Pumps shown in video

  • On days 6-7
    Shoot for 4x/day at about 250 feet. Everyone’s home size is different so just estimate a foot as a little longer than the length of your foot. You can even have a friend or family member walk this distance off to give you a goal to work towards. If you’re feeling up to it and your mailbox isn’t too far, try and get outside for some fresh air and walk to get your mail on these last couple days of the first week in addition to your in-home walking routine. 


    • Continue Ankle Pumps shown in video

    • Continue Heel slides shown in video

The Emotional Roller Coaster

  1. What is the Emotional Roller Coaster?

    • The ERC refers to the ups and downs that women commonly experience both in the days-weeks leading up to surgery to the days-weeks after. Women commonly go through phases of emotions from happiness and excitement about their surgery to tears, doubts, and regrets. This is 100% normal for almost all women regardless of the type of breast procedure performed. 

  2. Why do women go through the emotional roller coaster before surgery? 

    • There isn’t any one reason that explains the ERC. Rather, it’s believed that multiple factors lead to the ERC. Leading up to surgery think of this time as climbing a hill of a roller coaster. You’re building up the feelings of about your procedure but also questioning your decision. “Why am I doing this?” “How will my husband and others view me?” “How will I explain this to my children?” “I deserve this and look forward to my new look.” “I’ve sacrificed my body to breast-feeding and deserve to have my breasts back.” "I no longer want my implants, get them out." "Should I have a mastectomy or not?" These are common feelings of guilt, doubt, anxiety, and fear contribute to that hill climb and ERC.

  3. Why do women go through the emotional roller coaster after surgery?

    • Immediately after surgery, “the drop of the roller coaster,” emotions tend to take a toll. Outbursts, crying for no reason, feelings of doubt, tiredness are all common experiences that women have. Difficulty sleeping due to pain and positioning, the effects of anesthesia waring off, and having just been through surgery contribute to this “down.” In addition, women are used to doing it all. Taking care of others as well as themselves, the household, their job, being superwomen are all common tasks that in the early days and weeks after surgery are difficult tasks for women to achieve, thus feeling like a failure or let down to others can contribute to the immediate effects after surgery.

  4. Does lack of movement contribute to the emotional roller coaster? 

    • When women are used to being on the go, moving constantly to fulfill all of the above tasks as well as having routines of exercise, endorphins are likely to be released. Endorphins activate opioid receptors in the brain which reduces pain perception as well as increases the feeling of euphoria and overall mood. Thus not moving at all, stopping exercise routines completely to be sedentary for the weeks following surgery can be linked to a lack of endorphins being released thus decreased mood and increased pain perception.

  5. Can the emotional roller coaster be avoided or minimized?

    • Chrysalis was designed with the ERC as it’s backbone. All surgeons acknowledge this ERC exists therefore having tools to minimize it will help women recover more optimally. By participating in the movements each week you are not sedentary and you’re body is able to feel the effects of endorphins being released. The nutritional guidance offered by Chrysalis directs you to make healthy choices during your recovery so you’re not making poor choices which could lead to water retention and weight gain. The social support of Chrysalis offers you an outlet to vent your feelings and emotions so you can share your experiences with others and not feel alone. Use Chrysalis and it’s forum and avoid watching and reading random videos and blogs on the Internet where you can’t trust the source. The combination of participating in the safe movements offered to you by Chrysalis post-op, making good nutritional choices as well as surrounding yourself by a supportive community within the Chrysalis family will aid you with the tools needed to conquer the emotional roller coaster and be confident in your decision to have surgery.

  6. What is the typical timeline of the emotional roller coaster for a breast augmentation? 

    • Days leading up to surgery: Feelings of excitement mixed with doubts and anxiety

    • Day of surgery: feeling out of it and still feeling effects of anesthesia

    • 2-7 days post-op: Doubts, anxiety, crying outbursts, sadness, irritability, low energy

    • 8-14 days post-op: Impatience, Eagerness for results, self-critical, nit-picky

    • 15-21 days post-op: increased positivity, increased confidence, starting to see results, continued self-critic

    • 21-30 days post-op: increased mood and overall positivity, increased confidence in decision

    • 1-2 months post-op: Continue to see results and decreased swelling and confidence continues to soar.

  7. Do ALL women experience the emotional roller coaster? 

    • No, but it’s more common than not. If you don’t experience any part of this emotional roller coaster, or its very minimal thanks to your participation in Chrysalis, then you will likely be more pleased with your overall surgery experience and be more likely to recommend your surgeon to your friends and family because he/she considered your overall well-being in your recovery vs you just being another surgery number.

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