What is an arm lift?
Arm lift is also called a ‘brachioplasty’ and is an operation designed to rejuvenate the arms and removes excess fat and skin. It is often performed for patients who have either lost a lot of weight or to remove the excess loose tissue. It is also usually combined with liposuction.
What to expect during your consultation?
The success of the consultation depends on your openness and honesty in relation to what troubles you and your expectations of surgery. You will be asked questions about your health, desires and lifestyle. Different operations can be tailored to your needs and the potential outcomes and the risks and complications will be discussed with you. The operation removes excess tissue from the arm area and the type of arm lift needs to be tailored to the individual. Various types of arm lift procedures are available and may be combined with liposuction. For patients following significant weight loss other adjunctive procedures may be required.
A consultation regarding the risks and limitations of surgery will help you to choose a procedure that will meet with your expectations.
Preparing for arm lift surgery
The majority of arm lift procedures require general anaesthetic. Your health is a prime importance and any cosmetic surgery should be postponed if you are unwell for any reason. It is important that if anything changes with your health that you make contact with us. You should ideally stop smoking 6 weeks prior to surgery and stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements before surgery. You may need preoperative tests prior to surgery, which we will arrange if required. You will generally experience discomfort following the surgery and should aim to be off work for at least 2 weeks depending on the type of work you do.
Arm lifts often takes between 1 and 2 hours. Usually an incision is made on the under surface of the arm and extends into the armpit. The incision can extend towards the elbow and can also extend down the side of the chest. Liposuction is often performed and then the excess fat and skin is removed. Internal stitches are used to tighten the internal lining of the arm and the skin is sutured using dissolvable stitches. Minimal incisions can be used and extended incisions may also be required. It is unusual to require drains and a compressive dressing may be used. This lady is pictured preop and at one week. No dressings or drains are used and there is often bruising around the scar where liposuction has been used in combination. By 3 months the scar is settling and continual massage will help with the scar during this phase
You will usually return to the ward within an hour following surgery and you will be encouraged to mobilize. You will usually not have drains in place and you will be able to eat,drink and mobilize as soon as the anaesthetic wears off. You will feel swollen and have some discomfort that will usually require analgesia. You will be able to go home the next day and should keep the wounds dry for the next week. You should arrange for someone to pick you up following surgery and have some support at home on discharge. You will be reviewed in clinic and the wounds checked at a week. You should avoid excessive exercise over the first week but you may be able to drive after a week and be able to resume normal exercise by 2-3 weeks. You should begin massage to the scar once healed.
Risks and Complications
The vast majority of patients are delighted with the procedure although common complaints include numbness, bruising, swelling especially around the scar line and a slight difference between the two sides. Uncommon complications include infection, haematoma, delayed healing/skin necrosis/skin loss, seroma formation and thickened scar. There are uncommon risks of general anesthesia such as respiratory / cardiac compromise and deep vein thrombosis.
- Sensation usually changes following arm lift. Although permanent numbness is uncommon sensation can take a number of months to return back to normal.
- The scars following arm lifting can be red for a number of weeks / months after surgery and it can take some time before the scars start turning pink / purple and then start fading into a white line. It is unusual to develop abnormal scars and unusual to have irregularities requiring scar revision. Any revisions in the scars should not be considered for at least a year following surgery. The scar is often not symmetrical and the scar can move slightly with time. Arms can become lax with time and the result can fluctuate with fluctuations in weight.