Female bodybuilding has grown substantially in popularity due in part to the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) launching their Women’s Fitness category in the late 1990s.
Consequently, there has been a huge increase in professional competitions for women throughout the United States and globally.
As a result, breast augmentation has become a growing trend within the female bodybuilding community.
The Evolution of Female Bodybuilding
The IFBB was created in 1946 as a bodybuilding competition for men. But after women started competing in 1980, female fitness, bodybuilding, and figure divisions were created.
Since its formation as a spectator sport, the women's bodybuilding community has been continuously exploring the balance between femininity and fitness.
The IFBB even added “femininity” as a standardized judging criterion.
This criterion is less important in the bodybuilding class, which places a heavier focus on muscularity than the other four divisions.
However, although it remains a category in smaller competitions, in 2013 the IFBB eliminated the female bodybuilding class at the world level events.
With the decreased focus on traditional bodybuilding, femininity has become an essential component in the other divisions.
Although the judging is subjective, the overall aesthetic presentation is considered with a slightly lessened focus on muscle mass and more weight on the appearance of “womanliness.”
Consequently, as the bodybuilding category represented the 80s and 90s, the bikini division is now the biggest draw in female bodybuilding.
In the bikini competition, women are judged on skin tone, symmetry, balance, and femininity.
So it stands to reason that as the bikini division focuses more on womanliness and to some degree sexuality, women with larger breasts tend to place higher in the competition.
Many women who want to be competitive have therefore turned to breast augmentation to restore a fullness to their physique.
Many female bodybuilders face a dilemma that stems from having a very low body fat count that's essential to maximize muscularity.
The inevitable loss of breast tissue that stems from more lean body mass in conjunction with less body fat has resulted in most female competitors finding it extremely difficult to keep a pronounced bust without relinquishing their muscular physique.
As a result, breast implants have become quite common in the female bodybuilding community.
Submuscular Versus Subglandular Placement
One of the chief concerns that female bodybuilders have when considering breast augmentation is whether to have the implant placed over or under the pectoral muscle.
This concern typically comes from fearing that the implant may pop, shift or deflate. Although this is possible, it is rare.
When working with female bodybuilders, most doctors prefer placing the implant in a submuscular position or under the muscle.
This technique is believed to create a more aesthetically pleasing appearance for women with very little body fat.
Placing the implant over the pectoralis muscle (subglandular) is only recommended for women who already have some natural breast tissue, but it can potentially cause rippling or the formation of scar tissue.
Saline Versus Silicone Implants
Both saline and silicone implants can be used in breast augmentation for female bodybuilders. With saline implants, an empty silicone shell is placed inside the breast and filled with a sterile saline solution.
In contrast, silicone implants are made prior to the procedure with a polymer gel and are considered to have a more natural look. Both saline and silicone implants come in teardrop and round shapes.
Women with minimal body fat usually are urged to get silicone implants since saline implants have a higher occurrence of rippling.
And since silicone implants also provide a very natural texture and shape, they are increasingly becoming the preferred choice for women who desire a realistic look and feel from their implants.
Breast Augmentation Recovery and Training
Initially, the breast augmentation recovery can be rather painful with the first two to three days being the roughest period.
The majority of patients return to work one week after the surgery but will need to refrain from strenuous activity such as heavy lifting.
Most patients can begin cardio and light weight lifting after about two weeks. However, the majority of doctors will instruct patients to wait six to eight weeks before embarking on upper body exercises.
After the surgery, it is necessary to give the pectoral muscles adequate time to heal before straining them.
Proceed cautiously during the initial training sessions and discuss the regimen with your surgeon prior to resuming your routine.
Push-ups and the usual cadre of exercises can begin after a full recovery, but some women do experience discomfort or tightness as they return to their weightlifting regimen.
Natural Movement in Bodybuilding
There are women who reject the idea that larger breasts equate to femininity and opt for a more natural appearance.
These athletes prefer the more muscular look of the chest and believe implants interfere with their training. Yet, others choose to avoid the risks associated with breast augmentation.
It is not unusual to see breast implants spread while a woman is flexing her pectoral muscle. This is called animation deformity and usually happens with submuscular implants.
Some women find this unappealing and therefore decide to have their implants moved to the subglandular space.
Capsular contracture is another potentially negative consequence from implants and happens when the capsular lining hardens and creates excess scar tissue.
For these reasons, a number of female bodybuilders are beginning to say no to implants and are pursuing a more natural look.
The process of deciding to have breast augmentation surgery is intensely personal and unique for every woman.
Anyone considering breast implants should always choose a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
It also important to look for a surgeon who has extensive experience in performing breast augmentation on female bodybuilders.