Plastic Surgery

Arm lift (Brachioplasty)

What is the Arm lift (Brachioplasty)?

Arm lift surgery, or brachioplasty, is a procedure that involves removing the skin and subcutaneous tissue from the lower area of the upper arm. The procedure is recommended to those who have sagging tissues in the upper portion of their arm resulting from aging or losing a significant amount of weight.

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.

An arm lift reduces excess skin and fat between the underarm and the elbow, reshapes your arm to result in smoother skin and contours and results in a more toned and proportionate appearance.

What is the procedure?

For most patients, arm lift procedure takes only about two hours to complete. Brachioplasty is usually done under general anesthesia. The actual amount of time required for the surgery and the size of the incision, however, depends upon how much skin has to be removed, the location of the excess skin and the amount of fat that needs to be removed.

The most common incision used for brachioplasty extends from the elbow to the axilla. This permits the excision to maximally address the redundant skin in the middle of the arm. Modification of the incision may be necessary to limit scar contracture in the axilla. Surgical sculpture involves not just the superficial skin, but also the deeper attachments that have loosened.

A combined excision can sometimes limit the length of the scar between the elbow and axilla. In cases where there is loose skin of the lateral chest, the incision can be extended to deal with the extra tissue there.

Regardless of the length of the incision, it is made in the inner part of the arm in a curved or zigzagged fashion. Extra skin and fat is then removed, though liposuction may also be used to help remove additional fatty deposits. The incision may also be drained in order to assist with stretching and suturing the skin.

After the surgery is completed, the area is bandaged in order to assist with healing.

What kind of result can you expect?

The results of arm lift surgery will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. Patients benefit from improved balance and proportion in the contour of the arm, often resulting in greater confidence and comfort in clothing.

Recovery period and recommendations

Depending upon the extent of the surgery, the stitches may be removed one to three weeks later. During this time, patients generally experience swelling, bruising and a sense of tightening in the area where the surgery was made. Therefore, some patients may need to wear a supporting garment for a few weeks after the surgery in order to expedite the healing process. In addition, strenuous activity should be avoided.

Possible side effects and complications

Some of the common side effects of arm lift surgery include bleeding, bruising, infection, numbness, scarring and swelling.

Some of the more serious complications that may result from arm lift surgery include:

- contour abnormalities. If the surgeon removes too much fat or skin, it can result in contour depressions. Contour abnormalities may also occur due to scarring. In either case, ultrasound-assisted lipoplasty or ultrasonic liposuction may be used to correct the abnormality;

- hematoma. It occurs when blood accumulates beneath the skin and will not drain with the help of tubes. If this occurs, an additional surgery will be necessary to stop the bleeding and to drain the hematoma;

- nerve damage. Occurs if the nerves are compressed during or after the surgery, which can make it difficult for you to move your arms and hands;

- numbness. While a certain amount of numbness during the first couple weeks following surgery is considered normal, it is possible that numbness will continue for several months or may even be permanent;

- pulmonary embolism. Occurs when a blood clot gets into the lungs. You can reduce the risk pulmonary embolism by using anti-coagulant medication and engaging in early mobilization;

- healing difficulties;

- formation of seroma.

Individuals who are overweight, who smoke and who suffer from diabetes or other health conditions are more likely to experience complications from arm lift surgery.

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