An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that is used to help remove the excess skin and fatty tissue from the underside of the upper arm, extending from the underarm to the elbow. Brachioplasty is not a surgical treatment for being overweight. Obese individuals who intend to lose weight should postpone all forms of body-contouring surgery until they have reached a stable weight and maintained for one year.
Exercise may strengthen and improve the underlying muscle tone of the upper arm, but it cannot address excess skin that has lost elasticity or underlying weakened tissues and localized fat deposits.
If the underside of your upper arms are sagging or appear loose and full due to excess skin and fat, an arm lift may be right for you.
The best candidates for brachioplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by excessive sagging skin on the upper arm that won’t respond to diet or exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful to those who have lost a significant amount of weight and have drooping skin. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved.
Arm lift surgery can enhance your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with your surgeon.
Arm lift surgery done by a qualified plastic surgeon, who is trained in body contouring, usually have very positive results. Nevertheless, there are always risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.
Post-operative complications such as infection and blood clots are rare, but can occur. Infection can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, but will prolong your hospital stay. You can minimize the risk of blood clots by moving around as soon after the surgery as possible.
Poor healing, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a second operation. Smokers should be advised to stop, as smoking may increase the risk of complications and delay healing.
You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your surgeon’s instructions before and after the surgery, especially with regard to when and how you should resume physical activity.
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your health, determine the extent of fat deposits in your upper arm, and carefully assess your skin tone. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, and if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs.
Be frank in discussing your expectations with your surgeon. He or she will determine whether or not you are a good candidate as well as describe your alternatives and the risks and limitations of each.
Your surgeon will also review type of anesthesia, hospital stay, and recovery during your consultation. If you have specific questions please feel free to ask.
You will be given specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain vitamins, and medications. It is important that if anything in your health history changes to notify the office.
If you smoke, plan to quit at least two months before your surgery and not to resume for at least one month after your surgery or wound healing has occurred. Avoid overexposure to the sun before surgery, and do not go on an excessively restrictive diet, as both can decrease your ability to heal. If you develop a cold or infection of any kind, your surgery will probably be postponed. Again it is very important to notify the office if you have been unable to quit smoking or if you develop an illness.
Whether your surgery is done on an outpatient or inpatient basis, you should arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery, and to help you out for a day or two after you leave the hospital.
Your surgeon will perform your procedure in a hospital or ambulatory surgery setting. Please check on the exact location of your procedure.
Your surgery may be done under general anesthesia, so you’ll sleep through the operation. Sometimes it can be done using local anesthesia with IV sedation. Please check at your consultation which type of anesthesia is best for you.
Arm lift surgery usually takes two to three hours, depending on the extent of work required.
The incision will generally extend from the axilla (underarm) to the elbow on the underside of the upperarm. Sometimes smaller incisions may be used. Please check with your surgeon to determine what type of incision will be necessary for you.
After the excess skin and localized fat deposits are excised, your incisions will be closed. The incisions will be closed in layers using internal sutures as well as external surgical glue. You may have surgical drains in place.
For the first few days, your arms will probably be swollen and you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort which can be controlled by medication. Depending on the extent of the surgery, you may be released within a few hours or you may have to remain hospitalized overnight if you are considering other procedures.
You will be given instructions for showering and changing your dressings. It is important to get up and move around as soon as possible to decrease the risk of developing a blood clot. You will be given weight restrictions of about 10 pounds the first couple of weeks following surgery. Sometimes a compression garment may be used to decrease the amount of swelling in your arms. This garment usually needs to be worn for a few weeks.
It may take you weeks or months to feel like your old self again. If you start out in great physical condition and health, recovery will be much faster. Most people are able to return to work within a couple of weeks. Your scars may actually appear to worsen during the first three to six months as they heal, but this is normal. Expect it to take nine months to a year before your scars flatten out and lighten in color; however, they will never disappear completely. You may choose to wear certain clothing to try to conceal the scars.
Brachioplasty (arm surgery) provides great results for excessively sagging skin after major weight loss or during the aging process. And in most cases, the results are long lasting, if you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
If you’re realistic in your expectations and prepared for the consequences of a permanent scar and undergoing a surgical procedure, arm lift surgery may be right for you.