Also known as brachioplasty, an arm lift removes loose, hanging skin from the upper arms that is often caused by aging or significant weight loss. Patients seek an arm lift to restore the firmness of younger arms or eliminate the excess skin that develops after rapid weight loss.
An arm lift is often combined with other cosmetic procedures, such as liposuction, thigh lift, and a tummy tuck in order to sculpt the body and create a slimmer and more defined appearance. These body contouring procedures are most commonly performed after significant weight loss or for patients looking to tone the problem areas within the stomach, thighs, arms, neck and more.
CANDIDATES FOR ARM LIFT
The arm lift procedure is most effective for patients who are close to their overall weight but have trouble losing weight in the arms, or need a little tightening in the area. Many of these patients have lost a significant amount of weight and are now at a stable weight, but still have excess fat and skin in the upper arms.
This procedure is recommended for patients who are in good overall health, do not smoke and do not have any existing medical conditions that may interfere with this procedure. It is important for patients to also have realistic results about the arm lift procedure in order to achieve successful results from this procedure. An arm lift cannot be used to lose a significant amount of weight.
ARM LIFT PROCEDURE
Patients with minimal fat and no excess skin may be able to achieve effective results through liposuction alone. Liposuction is a much less invasive procedure that suctions out excess fat through tiny incisions. A minimal incision can also be near the arm pit for patients with minimal extra skin, which helps reduce scarring and recovery times.
For patients with a fair amount of excess fat and skin, a standard arm lift incision is made in a zigzag pattern on the inside or back of the arm that extends from the underarm to the elbow. Fat is removed through the incision and the remaining skin is stretched and sutured into place. A drain may be placed at the incision site to remove excess fluid, while the arm is bandaged and sometimes wrapped in compression bandages.
An arm lift is performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. The entire procedure takes about two hours to perform, and patients can usually return home the same day after the anesthesia has worn off.
RESULTS AND RECOVERY
After an arm lift procedure, patients may experience tightness and swelling in the upper arm, as well as tingling in the hands. These side effects are mild and go away on their own within a few days. Postoperative pain is likely to occur, but will vary depending on the individual patient. Most patients find their pain is relieved after 7 to 10 days. The incisions from the arm lift procedure are placed in inconspicuous locations so that scarring is minimal. Most patients believe that the removal of excess fat and skin outweighs the appearance of any scarring.
The results of this procedure are visible immediately, and will continue to improve as swelling and other side effects subside over the next three to six months. Patients often feel more comfortable exposing their arms and have improved self-confidence after this procedure.
RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS OF ARM LIFT SURGERY
Although an arm lift is considered safe for most patients, there are certain risks and complications associated with any kind of cosmetic treatment.
Some of these may include:
- Reaction to anesthesia
- Unattractive scarring
- Fluid accumulation
- Blood clots
These risks are considered rare, and can be further reduced by choosing a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon such as Dr. Meeks to perform your procedure, and by following Dr. Meeks’ instructions before and after surgery.