When both loose skin and excess tissue cannot be tightened under the arms with diet and exercise alone, an arm lift is sometimes necessary. An arm lift, also known as brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that reduces arm fat, removes sagging skin and improves the shape the arm. Upper arm area sagging can be due to weight loss, aging, and genetics, and this is very difficult, to improve through exercise alone. Arm lift surgery can help make it possible to again wear clothes that previously would not fit and make you feel more confident about your look.
Minimal excess skin can be managed by an incision in the armpit, but if the skin is more redundant, a scar will need to be placed either on the inner upper arm or on the back of the upper arm. Liposuction is sometimes done in conjunction with skin excision or, in more severe cases, as a separate procedure to de-bulk the arms prior to excising the skin. Depending on the type of skin excision performed, you may need to have drains for 5-7 days.
Is it right for me?
In general, candidates for an arm lift 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 who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks and potential complications.
The risks include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Bleeding (hematoma)
- Fluid accumulation
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Skin loss
- Blood clots
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- Major wound separation
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs
- Pain, which may persist
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
- Possibility of revisional surgery
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether excitement for the anticipated outcomes or preoperative stress. Discuss these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
When you go home
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Following Dr. La Via’s instructions is key to the success of your surgery. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
Following your 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. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
The results of arm lift surgery will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.