After significant weight loss, or just due to the natural effects of maturity/aging, sun damage, and gravity, the arms can have a saggy (ptosis), flabby appearance. Even thin people can have sagging upper arms because of aging and heredity/genetics!
As people age or their weight fluctuates, the skin can lose its natural elasticity and result in an aesthetically unpleasant effect. For some people, exercise alone is not enough to reduce the extra skin in the upper arms.
Flabby arms can lead to a low self-esteem, as well as wardrobe issues, such as avoiding wearing sleeveless shirts, avoid being seen in bathing suit, and avoiding tight sleeves.Excess arm skin may also cause physical discomfort and skin irritation by rubbing on the inside of the upper body and/or the sides of the breasts.
Brachioplasty/arm lift surgery can help address the lower side of the upper arm, from the underarm to the elbow by reshaping, tightening loose skin, defining, smoothing, contouring, and toning arms for sleeker, more proportionately shaped arms. A brachioplasty can also include removing fat deposits and excess arm skin-and the scar is often concealed within inner arm crease and armpit.
The ideal candidate for an arm lift surgery :
- At least 18 years of age
- Not currently pregnant or breastfeeding
- You have lost the weight you desired, but are left with redundant underarm skin
- You have significant upper arm skin laxity due to aging or genetics
- You are a healthy individual with no medical conditions that could impair healing or increase surgery risks
- You are a non-smoker
- You are committed to a healthy diet and lifestyle after your arm lift surgery
- You have realistic expectations about your results
The risks of arm lift surgery:
The standard surgical risks include pain; bleeding; infection; scarring; wide, painful or hypertrophic scarring; hematoma; seroma; injury to vessels, nerves, surrounding structures; asymmetry; poor cosmetic result; prolonged edema, numbness, paresthesia; loss of skin; contour irregularity; need for further procedure and out of pocket costs; and risks of anesthesia.
The arm lift surgical procedure
The surgery time is generally one to two hours while under general anesthesia. An incision is made on the inside or the back of the arm, and the incision size is determined according to each patient’s specific treatment plan and aesthetic goals. Some patients only require a minimal incision arm lift, which only requires minimal incisions where the inner, upper arm joins the armpit. Other patients 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.
Once the incision is made, the liposuction technique may be utilized to remove fat pockets. Excess skin is then trimmed, tightened, and sutured inplace with absorbable stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks of the surgery.Arm lift surgery is an outpatient procedure.
Arm lift surgery recovery: What to expect
You should expect some swelling, bruising and mild discomfort after an arm lift procedure, typically disappearing within two weeks. Your arms should appear trimmer almost right away. You can help reduce swelling by elevating your arm with pillows during recovery.
After surgery you will have one drain in each arm, exiting the skin near the elbow. The arms are typically wrapped with gentle compression immediately after surgery and changed to an arm garment sometime between the day after surgery and the following week, depending on swelling.
You may shower 24 hours after the drains have been removed. No baths, soaking in tubs, hot tubs, or swimming pools until incisions are fully healed.A gentle soap (non-perfumed, non-irritating soap preferred) and water over the incision is okay. Scar gel may be used starting 2 weeks after surgery or once incisions have no open areas, crusting, or scabs.
Avoiding exercising and heavy lifting (>15 pounds) for 6 weeks following surgery, at which time you can ease back into your workouts. You may return to work 1-2 weeks after surgery, depending on your pain level, stamina, and activities required in your occupation. You may drive once you are no longer taking pain medication. If you notice any numbness or tingling in the fingers or hands, you should notify your surgeon right away.
Arm lift scarring
After arm lift surgery, it is common for the scar to go through several phases during normal wound healing, including a pink or purple phase.The arm scars also have a greater tendency than other body areas to form thick pink ropey scars, likely because the arms are not given much rest and the scars are fighting movement as they heal and mature.
Close follow up is recommended to treat any issues that may arise, including treating the incisions with steroid injections or tape, silicone gel or tape, compression, or some combination of the above to optimize their appearance.In some cases, scar revision may be necessary at a later date. In general, the arm scars take a year to really fade and mature. Sun protection over the incisions is always recommended.
Short Scar Brachioplasty: the incision is significantly shorter than a standard brachioplasty and is well concealed in the armpit without extension down the length of the arm.
Standard Brachioplasty: an incision is made from elbow to armpit.
Extended Brachioplasty: extending the brachioplasty incision from the elbow to the armpit and continuing through the lateral chest wall to completely remove this fold of tissue.
Post-op. follow-up visits after arm lift surgery
Visits following surgery typically occur the day after surgery (for dressing change and making sure there was no bleeding, fluid collection, or blood supply issues overnight), the week after surgery (for removal of drains if present), 2 weeks after that, and then spread out less frequently thereafter.The schedule is adjusted based on doctor/patient preferences and needs.