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Also known as brachioplasty, an arm lift reshapes the under portion of the upper arm, from the underarm region to the elbow.
What an Arm Lift Can Do
An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that reshapes the under portion of the upper arm, from the underarm region to the elbow. The procedure is performed to:
The arm lift procedure is performed to:
- Reduce excess sagging skin that droops downward
- Tighten and smooth the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm
- Reduce localized pockets of fat in the upper arm region
Best Candidates for an Arm Lift
Fluctuations in weight, growing older and even heredity can cause your upper arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance.
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.
Best candidates for an arm lift include:
- Adults with significant upper arm skin laxity
- Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations
Is an Arm Lift Right For Me?
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.
Preparing for an Arm Lift
Prior to surgery, you may be asked to:
- Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
- Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
- Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
- Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding
Special instructions you receive will cover:
- What to do on the day of surgery
- The use of anesthesia during your arm lift
- Post-operative care and follow-up
Your plastic surgeon will also discuss where your procedure will be performed. Arm lift surgery may be performed in an accredited office-based surgical center, outpatient or ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital.
Note: If your arm lift is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
Arm Lift Surgery Overview
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as the best judgment of your plastic surgeon.
Incisions are generally placed on the inside of the arm or on the back of the arm, depending on the surgeon’s preference, and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. If fat is to be reduced during your arm lift, it will be excised or treated with liposuction.
Depending on your specific conditions, incisions may be more limited. Then, underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. Finally, the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm.
Closing the Incisions
Your incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures, or stitches that will be removed within 1-2 weeks following your arm lift.
Arm Lift Results
The smoother, tighter contours that result from brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following your procedure, although initial results will be somewhat obscured by swelling and bruising. Your new, shapely and toned upper arm is dramatically improved both in appearance and feel.
The results of arm lift surgery will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.
Will There Be Scars?
In order to achieve your improved image, there will be a scar on the inside of your upper arm.
Arm Lift Recovery
Following your surgery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and your arms may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions that may include: How to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your plastic surgeon specific during your consultation questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery?
- When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
When You Return Home
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Following your physician’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Possible Risks of Arm Lift Surgery
Although arm lift surgery is a relatively safe procedure, there are certain risks that you must be aware of before deciding to go through with the operation.
Possible arm lift surgery risks include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Fluid accumulation
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Skin loss
- Blood clots
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- Major wound separation
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs
- Pain, which may persist
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
- Possibility of revisional surgery
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
NOTE: It's very important to ask your plastic surgeon questions about your arm lift procedure. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.