If you have breast implants or if you’re thinking of getting them done, you may be wondering if it would be OK to do some martial arts once you’re fully healed or whether it’s simply too dangerous and your implants might explode on contact with another fighter. Well, here’s what you need to know.
Can you do martial arts with breast implants? Yes. You can do martial arts with breast implants. There are no rules in martial art tournaments against breast implants. Plastic surgeons also have no issue with it, though some recommend the use of a chest guard. There are also successful top tier martial artists with breast implants.
Let’s have a brief look at the details.
Martial Arts With Breast Implants: What Do The Rules Say?
Before we get into the medical side of things, let’s take a look at the rules of martial arts. After all, rules of any sport don’t need to be based on science and can include pretty much whatever the governing body wants to include.
However, it’s fair to say that for most martial arts the rules that aren’t fighting-style specific tend to be in place for good reason. Boxers, for example, are required to wear boxing gloves not because the sport of punching someone in the head demands gloves but because boxer’s hands are prone to fracturing without them. Better to wear gloves than never to be able to hold a pen again, right?
I was wondering whether there were ever any bans on fighters having breast implants in any martial art so I scoured the internet for more info. Of course, there are dozens of martial arts out there that are so obscure that they may not even have written rules about this, but for those that did – there are no current bans on breast implants.
In fact, there are only two references to a ban on breast implants in martial arts rules. In 2013, the state of Louisiana enacted a temporary 60-day ban on breast augmented athletes participating in Mixed Martial Arts (MMA).
They didn’t do this because of some random reason, they did so because an anonymous female fighter said that she felt forced to withdraw from a fight because of a specific issue that had been caused to her breast implants.
After investigating the issue, they concluded that there were no significant risks to fighters with breast implants and the ban was lifted at the end of 60 days.
The state of New York also considered a ban on breast implants in 2010 in UFC bouts but while there is a rule (to this day) against the implants on their books, it was never enacted.
There was also a case of an English boxing association denying a lady with breast implants a license to box in competition due to her breast implants and concern over her safety but that case stems back to 2009. There are no rules in boxing covering breast implants and it looks like no other refusals have ever taken place.
In short, there is no impediment in the rules of any commonly practiced martial art for female competitors to have breast implants.
Martial Arts With Breast Implants: What Does The Science Say?
There are two kinds of breast implant and from a scientific perspective, it is very important to differentiate between the two. One is a “silicone implant” that is the augmented breast tissue is made of silicone jelly. The other is a “saline implant” that is the augmented breast tissue is made of salt water.
Both of these implants are contained in a similar plastic bag that is then inserted into the body. In the vast majority of cases the bag is inserted beneath the muscle of the chest and supported by scar tissue which holds it in place once the woman has healed from surgery.
That means, to some extent, there is some natural protection for the implant from general day to day accidents and because the medical profession isn’t lackadaisical about women’s safety, the implant itself is quite tough and can handle quite a lot of impact.
Can it handle every punch and kick that might be thrown at it, however? That’s the big question when it comes to having breast implants and doing martial arts.
No. Some surgeons say that the risks of damage to a breast implant from a blow in martial arts are substantial and that the person ought to wear a chest guard to prevent rupture of the implant. Others are less emphatic about the use of the guard but also acknowledge that it is possible for a heavy blow to cause an implant to rupture.
A rupture is when the implant effectively breaks or bursts – it is not a balloon, so you won’t end up with bits of plastic bag strewn around the insides of the person with the implants but the filling inside the bag (be it silicon gel or saline solution) will begin to leak out into the body.
Obviously, this isn’t great news because it means that, over time, the quality of the implant will degrade but does it have any other health implications?
The good news is that if you have saline implants, a leak is unlikely to cause you any real problems at all. You’re talking about a bit of salty water leaking into a body which is made up mainly of water and has plenty of salt floating around in there too.
Most of the latest implants are saline based and they are easier to fix in the event of a rupture. It may be possible to repair the implant without removing it and then to refill it with saline in the event of a rupture.
It may also need replacing in the event that it’s not repairable. This isn’t a huge deal and, in fact, there are no implants that offer a lifetime warranty, they are meant to be replaced every 20 years or so. It shouldn’t be as traumatic as an original breast augmentation surgery as the scar tissue to support the implant has already formed.
Silicone implants are different though and while it’s very important to know that there is no evidence that silicone in the body can cause something fatal (like cancer) and no evidence that it might cause reproductive issues, there is a large body of evidence that suggests that it might not be as easy to deal with in the individual as saline is.
When silicone leaks into the chest cavity it has been known to cause pain, swelling and soreness. In some instances, it may also harden, that is you will feel solid lumps of silicone in the breast.
There are two types of rupture to a silicone implant and there is a rupture known as a “silent rupture” which causes no real health problems and the silicone stays trapped in the scar tissue around the implant. If this is the kind of rupture you were to suffer from, your plastic surgeon might advise you to leave the implant alone rather than to undertake any surgery on it.
The other type of rupture involves the symptoms that we have already seen and at this point, your plastic surgeon is likely to recommend that the implant is removed completely. It is up to you as to whether you have another implant inserted at the same time.
Most plastic surgeons would want to stress that it’s not just martial arts that can lead to a ruptured implant and that no breast implant comes with a lifetime warranty. You should have regular checkups (ideally annually) for any implant to see if there are any issues that might be lurking beneath the surface.
So in most cases, it’s going to be fine for you to fight with implants. Of course, the best judge of your safety is you in consultation with your plastic surgeon. Talk to them about what you want to do and get their recommendations. That’s always the best way forward.
Martial Arts With Breast Implants: The Evidence
Here are 3 famous examples of martial arts fighters with breast implants.
Gabrielle “Gabi” Lemos Garcia who is a Brazilian and a member of the Brazilian-Jiu Jitsu Hall of Fame. She has also taken part in MMA competition with 6 wins to her name.
Michelle Zonato Nicolini is also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter with the second most world IBJJF titles after Beatriz Mesquita! She too has joined the MMA and has 6 wins and 2 losses to her name.
Fallon Fox, who is now retired, was the first openly transgender MMA fighter and she won 5 of her professional fights and lost just one.
So, there is conclusive proof that you can practice martial arts even at the highest levels with breast implants.
Can you do martial arts with breast implants? You definitely can do martial arts with breast implants. Though the activity may not be entirely risk free (even if you opt for a chest guard), it’s not as dangerous as some people might think and many top professional martial artists have had breast implants.