Brachioplasty or arm lift is a surgical procedure that is indicated for patients with loose arm skin who want to restore a more youthful shapely contour. Most patients have some combination of skin laxity as well as deposits of excess fat. Due to sagging skin, liposuction alone is not sufficient.
Brachioplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia. Results will be long lasting as long as you maintain your weight, protect your skin from the sun and practice good nutrition.
How can I tell whether I need an arm lift or just liposuction?
Schedule a consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
He or she will be able to determine your treatment options. Young women with good skin elasticity may have arms that are genetically predisposed to disproportionately large amounts of fat deposits.They can usually be successfully treated by liposuction alone. The same goes for those who are vigilant at the gym but recognize their arms are resistant to change with either diet or exercise. Patients with moderate skin laxity (degree of loose skin) will need a combination of surgical tightening, removal of excess skin along with liposuction. In these patients, the incision can usually be hidden in the armpit (axilla). For those patients who have excessively loose skin, the incision may extend from the armpit along the inside of the arm, or on the back of the arm extending to just above the elbow.
What type of anesthesia will I need and where is the surgery performed?
Arm lift surgery is usually performed under intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. The surgery can be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, ambulatory surgery center, or in the hospital. For patients with underlying medical problems, the surgery is done in the hospital outpatient facility.
What is the recovery period like and how long will it be before I can return to my usual activities including exercise?
The surgery is performed as an outpatient, so you’ll return home the same day. Your arms will be wrapped with elastic bandages or you will wear a compression garment to reduce the swelling. Drains (a thin plastic tube) may be placed under the skin to drain any fluid that collects after surgery. The drains are usually removed within one to three days after surgery. Patients can shower the day after surgery even with a drain in place.
Prior to surgery, prescriptions are given for medication to take after surgery—antibiotics and medication to relieve pain. After the first several days, many patients no longer need prescription pain medication and switch to Tylenol.
For the first two to three weeks after surgery, you’ll restrict your arm movement gradually being able to lift your arms overhead as swelling and bruising disappear.
What are the scars like and how noticeable will they be?
For patients with minimal excessive skin, the scar can be confined to the axilla (underarm area). For patients with significant excess skin, the scar extends from the armpit either down the inside of the arm, or on the back of the arm depending on surgeon/patient preference to just above the elbow. As with all scars, the final appearance will vary depending on the individual. Scars go through a period of maturation with the appearance changing over the course of a year. Topical agents such as gel sheeting (strips of silicone gel placed over the scar) or other scar-minimizing treatments help promote favorable healing. Laser treatments can also be used optimize scar appearance.
Is there any specific preparation I will need to do before undergoing arm lift surgery?
While each surgeon may have his or her particular preoperative regimen there are certain requirements:
- Lab tests.
- Medical clearance from your primary care physician or appropriate medical specialist if you have any underlying health issues such as high blood pressure or a history of heart disease.
- Discontinue any non-prescription medications or supplements that can cause increased bleeding. You will be given a list including prescription medication, over the counter products, supplements, and herbs to avoid for specified period before and after the surgery.
- Stop smoking and avoid all nicotine products for at least one month before surgery and one month after surgery. Nicotine constricts blood vessels and can result in delayed healing or wound healing problems leading to unfavorable scars.
- Mental/emotional health is equally important when undergoing a surgical procedure. Put off elective/cosmetic procedures during periods of emotional upheaval.
- Arrange for an adult to pick you up after the surgery and to stay with you for a least the night following your surgery.
- Have your prescriptions filled before surgery and do food shopping as well.
Choosing your surgeon
- Make sure he or she is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
- Your surgeon should have experience and be comfortable performing brachioplasty surgery.
- In addition to ascertaining that your surgeon is competent and experienced, you should like your surgeon and feel comfortable and confident in his or her hands. You want to feel that your surgeon will have the same level of interest and concern for your safety, comfort, and welfare during and after your surgery.
Patients derive great satisfaction and benefits from brachioplasty surgery including enhanced confidence and esteem, and improved body image. Often the results of brachioplasty surgery act as a catalyst for patients to improve their fitness and lifestyle.