What is Arm Lift

An arm lift, or Brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that:

  • Reduces excess sagging skin that droops downward
  • Tightens and smoothes the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm
  • Reduces localized pockets of fat in the upper arm region

Fluctuations in weight, growing older and heredity can cause your upper arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance. This is a condition that cannot be corrected through exercise.

Arm lift surgery may be right for you if the underside of your upper arms is sagging or appear loose and full due to excess skin and fat.

Who is a good candidate for arm lift surgery?

In general, arm lift candidates 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 without medical conditions that impair healing or increase the risk of surgery
  • Nonsmokers
  • Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations

What are the risks of arm lift surgery?

The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits, risks and potential complications of arm lift surgery are acceptable.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure.

Arm lift surgery risks include:

  • Anesthesia risks
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
  • Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, and muscles
  • Fatty tissue under the skin might die (fat necrosis)
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Sutures may not absorb, but spontaneously surface through the skin, causing irritation, drainage, and redness
  • The possible need for revisional surgery

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

What are the steps of an arm lift procedure?

An arm lift procedure includes the following steps:

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during arm lift surgery. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The incision

Incision length and pattern during arm lift surgery 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. Excess fat may be directly excised or treated with liposuction.

Depending on your specific condition, 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.

Inner arm incision

Arm lift inner arm incision

Back of arm incision

Arm lift back arm incision

Minimal incision

Arm lift minimal incision

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Your incisions will be closed either with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks following your arm lift.

Step 4 – See the results

The smoother, tighter contours that result from Brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following your procedure, although there will likely be swelling and bruising.

What should I expect during my arm lift recovery?

During your recovery from arm lift 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 following surgery.

A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid.

You will be given specific instructions on how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing, specific concerns to look for and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

Be sure to ask your arm lift surgeon specific 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?

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