Brachioplasty or armlift is a surgical procedure that is indicated for patients with loose arm skin who want to restore a more youthful smoother, tighter arm contour. Most patients have some combination of skin laxity as well as deposits of excess fat. Due to the skin sagging, liposuction alone is not sufficient. Brachioplasty is usually performed under anesthesia administered by an anesthesiologist. 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 is true 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 deep intravenous sedation or general anesthesia administered by an anesthesiologist. The surgery can be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, ambulatory surgery center, or in the hospital. Dr. Bruck usually performs brachioplasty surgery in his office-based surgical facility. For patients with underlying medical problems the surgery is performed 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 either be wrapped with elastic bandages or a you will wear a compression garment in order to reduce the swelling. You may have a drain (a thin plastic tube) under the skin that will remain for several days to drain any fluid. You may shower the a day or two after your surgery with a drain in place.
Prior to surgery you’ll be prescribed antibiotics and medication to relieve pain postoperatively. 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 dissipate.
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 (under arm area), is concealed and generally heals well. For patients with significant skin excess the scar extends from the armpit either down the inside of the arm or on the back of the arm depending on surgeon’s 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.
Dr. Bruck follows patients closely often using laser treatments to facilitate optimal scar appearance.
Is there any specific preparation I will need to do before undergoing armlift surgery?
While each surgeon may have her or his particular preoperative regimen there are certain common 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 all nicotine products. 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 prior to surgery and do food shopping as well
Choosing your surgeon
- -Make sure he or she is a member of the American Society of Plastic surgeons and is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery
- -Your surgeon should have experience and be comfortable performing brachioplasty surgery
- -In addition to a 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 times the results of brachioplasty surgery act as a catalyst for patients to improve their fitness and lifestyle.