If you were deadlifting a good amount of weight prior to your elective double mastectomy, you’ll be wondering how the surgery will affect your ability to get back to the weignt you were lifting at.
The “how soon” factor is built into the general restriction from upper body strength training that’s in place for all double mastectomy patients.
Depending on your surgeon, the restriction will be in place for anywhere from four to six weeks.
My surgeon told me not to resume upper body weightlifting for six weeks after my prophylactic double mastectomy.
I did not have reconstruction.
For any woman who was passionate about deadlifts prior to her elective double mastectomy, six weeks off from this will feel like an eternity.
Because you know you will lose a lot of strength. The deadlift is one of those moves that if you miss even two sessions, you may already notice a weakening when you resume.
When I resumed deadlifting 41 days after my preventive double mastectomy, I limited myself to just the amount of weight that I’d normally use as a warm-up and which was easy.
But it felt heavier than normal – but still a warm-up feeling. I stayed with this weight because 41 days was one day short of the six week restriction.
I also didn’t want to pull any muscles by getting over-eager.
The next day I did more deadlifting and with more weight.
We all know we’re not supposed to work the same muscle group two days in a row.
However, the day 41 workout was not in my training range. It was in the warm-up range.
So I figured that I would not be over-training the same muscle group by doing more deadlifting the next day.
I did many single-rep lifts, just to see where that boundary was. When I reached it, I was dismayed, because it was nowhere near where I had been prior to the double mastectomy.
This was a function of the lower back musculature being inactive against resistance for six weeks. It was NOT a function of the surgery.
The good news is that I felt perfectly normal. And you can expect this for absolute sure if your double mastectomy was performed for prophylactic reasons (i.e., you’re healthy) and you did not have reconstruction.
And also, that your recovery went without a hitch (e.g., no infections, no painful seromas).
The arm and shoulder positioning of the heaviest deadlift does not stretch the skin since the arms and shoulders are immobile during the move.
Prior to the elective double mastectomy I was deadlifting 5 x 225. At the time of this posting it’s 62 days postop and I’m already at 2 x 215.
Do not fear getting back into deadlifts following a double mastectomy, as long as your doctor approves.
The only issue I’m facing is regaining the strength that I lost – simply because I had taken six weeks off from this giant compound move.
Update: It took eight weeks to regain pre-surgery strength in the deadlift, and this progress was based on a timeline for gradually increasing the weight, rather than on how the activity felt to my body.