William Callaghan. MD (arm-lift Surgery)
Arm Lift Surgery
An arm lift (brachioplasty) is a procedure, which removes excess tissue of the arms. This can be done with liposuction alone or removal of the skin.
This procedure can create a sculpted upper arm that complements your figure. Arm lift techniques are safer and the scars much less conspicuous than in the past.
Arm lift is a popular plastic surgery procedures performed following massive weight loss, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This is because people who have lost massive amounts of weight are often left with significant amounts of skin hanging under their arms.
The soft tissue of the arm becomes lax, setting the stage for ptosis (sagging), or "bat wings." Thin people, too, may have sagging upper arms due to the effects of aging and genetics. Even people who engage in regular exercise such as Pilates and strength training cannot get rid of excess, sagging skin that develops in this area.
An arm lift typically takes one to three hours depending on the extent of the surgery. It may involve local anesthesia with intravenous sedation — leaving you awake, but not totally aware — or general anesthesia. Liposuction alone may be sufficient for people with smooth skin and just a small amount of flab. The arm lift procedure may benefit people with larger areas of fat underneath the arms.
To perform an arm lift, your surgeon will make incisions on the inside or back of your arm. The incision is planned to be placed in the inner aspect of the arms to avoid visibility. Incisions typically span from the underarm to just above the elbow. The amount of skin to be excised depends on the amount of “excess” skin. Some people may only require minimal incisions where the inner, upper arm joins the armpit. This is known as a minimal incision arm lift. An individual may be a candidate for a minimal incision arm lift if you have a small amount of extra skin located near the armpit.
Others, including people who have lost massive amounts of weight following bariatric surgery, may have more excess skin and need an incision that runs from the elbow to the armpit and onto the side of the chest.
After the incision is made, excess fat may be removed with liposuction. Excessive skin is then trimmed, tightened and sutured in place with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed within one or two weeks of the surgery. At this stage your skin will be smooth over the new contour of your arm.
Recovering From Your Arm Lift
You should expect some swelling, bruising and mild discomfort after the procedure, but your arm should appear trim and toned almost immediately. Your surgeon can prescribe prescription pain medication to help alleviate this pain.
Swelling will peak several days after your arm lift, typically dissipating within two weeks. Elevating your arm with pillows can help reduce swelling and increase your comfort during recovery.
Dressings are typically applied to the incision. Many of the stitches will dissolve, but those that are not self-absorbing are usually removed within a week. One should avoid any strenuous exercise for one month, and to avoid heavy lifting for at least six weeks. Individual instructions vary.
Risks of Arm Lift
No surgery is risk free. Arm lift risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Loss of sensation
- Swelling of the hands
Seromas (fluid-filled masses along the incision line)