The upper arms can develop a drooping, sagging appearance due to weight fluctuations, aging, or heredity. Even with diet and exercise, it can be challenging to regain the firm skin you used to have. Loose skin in the arm area can make you feel self-conscious and make you avoid wearing sleeveless and short sleeve pieces of clothing. Loose skin in the arm area is also a common side effect of major weight loss. Arm Lift surgery helps remove excess skin and fat, giving you firmer, more defined, and toned arms. Our Plastic Surgeons can perform an arm lift in Washington, DC, to slim the arms while tightening the excess skin. If you think an arm lift may be the right surgery for you, call Peel Haus today to schedule a consultation.
Ideal Candidate for an Arm Lift
In general, candidates for an arm lift are:
Patients with significant amounts of excess skin and fat will probably need an arm lift. When you have a great deal of excess skin, liposuction alone may result in residual sagging skin. An arm lift removes the excess skin. Unfortunately, an arm lift results in a scar from the armpit down to the elbow. Your surgeon can attempt to hide the scar by placing it on the inner aspect of the arm.
If you mostly have excess fat, then arm liposuction may be enough. Liposuction deflates the arms and leave some excess skin behind. However, the skin has a good chance of tightening on its own. Sometimes it is best to have both procedures (usually liposuction followed by an arm lift a few months later). However, the only way to know which procedure will best help you meet your goals is to consult with a Plastic Surgeons.
If you have deposits of fat in your arms that have not responded to diet or exercise, and the skin is not loose, liposuction alone may be sufficient to tone and tighten your arms. Liposuction is a cosmetic procedure that can slim and contour specific body areas by removing excess localized fat deposits. In experienced hands, liposuction is an effective way to reshape the arms and help keep fat from returning to the treated area.
During arm liposuction, a cannula is inserted into a small incision at the treatment area. The plastic surgeon uses the tube to loosen fat deposits and then suck the fat out of the area. After the procedure, the incisions are closed with sutures. An experienced plastic surgeon will remove just the right amount of fat for an attractive and natural look. During your consultation, our Plastic Surgeons will examine your arms to determine which arm lift method would provide you with the best results.
Arm Lift surgery ——also known as Brachioplasty — is a surgical procedure designed to reshape and contour the upper arm by removing excess skin and tissue. It involves making incisions so your plastic surgeon can reduce excess skin and fat. There are various incision options for arm lift procedures. One of our plastic surgeons will discuss your options and what she or he feels will work best for your situation during your consultation.
Types of Arm Lifts
During your consultation, your plastic surgeon will work closely with you to develop a treatment plan based on your individual needs and goals.
In all cases, skin and/or fat is removed; underlying tissue is reshaped and tightened with support sutures, and the remaining skin is lifted and smoothed and sutured into place at the incision site. Drains may be placed to keep fluid from building up; if so, they are removed after a few days. Surgery typically takes 2 to 3 hours. Post-surgery, a compression garment is worn to minimize swelling and promote healing.
Incision length and pattern during arm lift surgery depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as the best judgment of your plastic surgeon. Incisions are generally placed on the inside of the arm or the back of the arm, depending on the surgeon’s preference, and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. Excess fat may be directly excised or treated with liposuction.
Depending on your specific condition, incisions may be more limited. Then, underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. Finally, the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm. Advanced techniques usually allow incisions to be strategically placed where they can be hidden by most types of clothing and swimsuits. Your plastic surgeon will advise you on what technique will help you reach your desired outcome.
Once the excess skin and fat have been removed, your incisions will be closed either with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks following your arm lift. The smoother, tighter contouring that results from an arm lift is apparent almost immediately, although initially obscured by swelling and bruising.
Arm Lift Surgery Risks
Arm lift surgery is a safe procedure, but it is complex. As with any surgery, there are risks of infection, poor wound healing, accumulation of fluids, and skin loss. With arm lifts, other possible side effects can be asymmetry of your arms and numbness or changes in skin sensation in the surgery areas. In some cases, tissue sagging will not be fully alleviated, or patient expectations may merit a secondary office procedure to fine-tune the contour of your arms. Revision surgery may be necessary to correct these types of problems.
Some complications that may occur are:
After arm lift surgery, you will be taken to post-op, where you will come out of anesthesia and be on pain medication. Depending on your situation, you may be kept overnight at the hospital or may be able to go home. You will need someone to drive you home afterward and stay with you for at least 24 hours. You will be able to shower the day after your surgery.
Your plastic surgeon will send you home with detailed instructions for changing bandages, cleaning incision sites, showering, and other post-op activities. She will see you in her office one week after your surgery. At that time, she would remove drains if they were placed.
Your plastic surgeon will give you a prescription for pain medicine preoperatively. You will be on narcotic pain medicine for around 2 to 3 days following the surgery. Tylenol is used to transition off narcotics, and then NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil) can be used after the first two weeks. You will be able to drive once you have stopped taking narcotics.
It’s essential to line up help for at least two or three days once you’re home following surgery, as your arms will be sore. You will be prescribed pain medications and have somewhat limited mobility. Having someone to help around the house during the initial period after surgery can make a recovery significantly easier.
Plan to take a week off of work and other responsibilities after your surgery. You will need this time to rest and recover. You will need to rest and will be given instructions to move about to help prevent any blood clots.
Arm Lift Recovery Complications
As with any surgery, there is a risk that a complication may develop. For arm lift surgery, these risks include excessive bleeding, infection, anesthesia reaction, asymmetry, poor scarring, and fat necrosis, which should resolve in six months but may require excision in a second surgery. Your plastic surgeon will provide a list of guidelines to follow to reduce the risk of complications. These instructions will include information on exercise and medications in the weeks before and after surgery. Complications can usually be managed, but it is important to follow your plastic surgeon’s pre-and post-operative instructions to reduce the risk of complications.
The most common complication is an infection of the incision site. Your plastic surgeon will discuss how to minimize the risk of infection during your consultations. If you think your incisions may be infected, call us immediately. To lower your infection risk, avoid bathing, swimming, or using hot tubs for the first two weeks post-surgery. You’ll be able to shower the day after your surgery. You might have an infection if you have a fever or notice warmth and redness in your arms. If this happens or you have shortness of breath or chest pain, please get in touch with our office as soon as possible.
Resuming Normal Activities
Expect soreness, tenderness, and sensitivity during recovery, especially during the first six weeks post-op. For the first six weeks, you will not be able to exercise or do any heavy lifting. If you have young children, you will want to enlist help to assist with childcare, as picking up children (or heavy objects) for the first six weeks is strongly advised against. Some patients opt to take a few weeks off work for recovery. If you have a physically demanding job, it’s crucial to take plenty of time off, so you don’t jeopardize your recovery. Of course, you will also want to avoid exercise for the same reasons.
Initially, your arms will have more of a contour, but they will also be swollen and bruised and in compression garments. You will need some patience here, as the tissue repositioning can cause some enduring swelling. After about six weeks, most of the arm swelling should subside, and the arm results will improve over the next several months as the tightened arm skin continues to heal and settle. Try not to get discouraged if you aren’t fully satisfied with your results after the first few weeks. Some patients may take up to a full year for their arms to fully recover. But when the swelling has passed and your scars have started to fade, you’ll notice slimmer, younger-looking arms with great contour!
This arm lift timeline can help you make an informed decision about when to have surgery. All of these factors should be taken into consideration when making your surgery plans, and it can be helpful to think about what works best for you, as well as for anyone who will be helping you during the healing process. This can help you plan the ideal time for your arm lift and recovery.
There are many important factors to consider when scheduling arm lift surgery:
If you are bothered by excess fat and loose skin on your arms, an arm lift may be an excellent option. It’s important to ensure that you’re a good candidate for this surgery and have realistic goals. Take the first step by reaching out to Peel Haus today to schedule a consultation with one of our Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons. She can answer any additional questions you have about an arm lift.
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Meet with one of our physicians to learn more about which treatments will work well for you.