Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
Upper arm lift surgery is an increasingly popular procedure for those who have experienced massive weight loss as well as those with sagging skin due to natural aging. This safe and effective cosmetic surgery removes excess skin and fat from the undersides of the upper arms to create a more appealing appearance. This often results in increased self-confidence for the patient.
With age or considerable weight loss, many people develop excess fat and sagging skin on their upper arms. This causes the triceps area of the arms to droop; a condition commonly referred to as “bat wings”. An arm lift procedure is an aesthetic plastic surgery that removes the extra skin and fat tissue, thereby helping to create new contours and enhance the patient’s body image and self-confidence.
This page reviews the goal of arm lift surgery, risks and possible side effects, steps involved in the procedure, and some before and aftercare tips. It also lists some pros and cons of the surgery, addresses who make good candidates for an arm lift and looks at who it is not typically recommended for.
Steps of the Procedure
The steps of brachioplasty vary based on the specific goals for individual patients. However, in general, the procedure progresses as follows:
Local anesthesia, intravenous sedative drugs, and/or general anesthesia is used to keep the patient pain-free during surgery.
A small incision is made by the elbow to facilitate liposuction, which removes the excess fat tissue inside the lower portion of the upper arm.
After liposuction, incisions are made as needed to excise loose skin that results from the liposuction. These can be either on the inside of the upper arm or on the back of the upper arm.
Underlying tissues that support the new contours are held in place with internal sutures.
The skin above and below the removed skin is stretched over the new contour of the upper arm, and then, bound together with sutures. These can be either the absorbable type or the traditional type, which are typically removed by the surgeon 1-2 weeks post-surgery.
The incisions are then sterilized and dressed with bandages to accommodate the healing process. Compression garments and/or surgical drains may also be used.
Arm lift surgery produces immediate and significant results. It is a generally safe and effective treatment for loose, sagging upper arms in both men and women.
Before and Aftercare
When you are preparing for an arm lift, your cosmetic surgeon may ask you to: stop smoking, stop using blood thinners, have certain laboratory tests performed, and either begin using certain medications or stop using others.
Remember to arrange transportation to and from the surgical center or hospital where your surgery is scheduled. It is also advised to have a friend stay with, monitor, and help care for you for at least the first night after the procedure.
You will see your doctor for a checkup after surgery, typically within 48 hours. If you have traditional stitches, they will be removed within 1-2 weeks. Patients will return for follow-up visits as needed to ensure proper healing with no complications.
Your surgeon will likely instruct you to avoid showering for the first 48 hours, avoid raising your arms above your head for 2-4 weeks and avoid other activities that could stretch and tear your incisions for 4-8 weeks
You will be prescribed pain medications, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory drugs as needed to help you manage your pain and accommodate healing after the surgery.