What is Arm Lift or ‘Flabby Arm’ Surgery?
Arm lift surgery, medically known as brachioplasty, is the procedure performed by a plastic surgeon to remove loose skin and fatty deposits from saggy upper arms.
Why Would You Need Arm Lift Surgery?
Age, health, heredity, lifestyle, or large weight fluctuations can cause the skin on the upper arms to stretch out of shape. People with this problem tend to shy away from displaying their upper arms and avoid wearing sleeveless blouses, short sleeves or swimsuits.
You may have tried to tighten up this sagging skin with exercise and dieting, without seeing any dramatic results. Unfortunately, skin does not respond to exercise and changes in diet in the same way as muscle and fat do.
Types of Upper Arm Surgery
Your plastic surgeon will consider various surgical options when deciding on the procedure or combination of procedures that will work best in your particular situation.
The options will be dictated primarily by the elasticity of the skin and the extent of underarm fat and skin to be removed and tightened.
Flabby Arm Surgery with Liposuction
Simple arm liposuction could be an option if your skin has retained enough elasticity to shrink back around the remaining tissue, once the fat has been removed. If your skin doesn’t have enough elasticity, the sagging will be more pronounced after the liposuction. In this case, your surgeon may opt for liposuction in conjunction with one of the other procedures, or not utilize this technique at all in your surgery.
Limited-incision Upper Arm Lift Surgery
If the loose, excess skin is located only near the armpit your plastic surgeon may be able to use a limited-incision approach to your arm lift. During this technique, the surgeon will pull up and tuck the excess skin into the armpit. This procedure works best if the patient has loose, crepe-like skin only near the armpit and not much excess fatty tissue. If there is excess fatty tissue, it can be liposuctioned at the same time.
Standard Arm Lift Surgery
If the excess skin and fat of the upper arms extends from armpit to elbow, much like a bat wing, the best option will likely be the complete removal of that excess tissue in a standard brachioplasty (arm lift surgery). This surgery requires a scar that runs along the length of the upper arm.
Extended Arm Lift Surgery
When the excess fat and loose skin of the upper arm extends to the underarm area along the side of the chest wall, your surgeon may decide on performing what is known as an extended arm lift. In an extended arm lift procedure, the plastic surgeon makes the incision along the arm from the elbow, extending it to include the sagging skin and fatty tissue just under the arm area, along the side of the chest wall. This procedure is most common in people who have had a large amount of weight loss.
What You Need to Know Before Surgery
You’ll be given a list of instructions to follow in the days before your surgery, but here is some general advice.
- Find someone who will give you a ride home after your procedure and stay with you for a while. You will not be able to drive yourself home.
- Stock up on easy to prepare, light and healthy foods. Avoid foods that contain salt, as these tend to increase swelling.
- Have plenty of pillows on hand to keep your arms propped up after surgery. Elevating your arms will help reduce swelling and increase your comfort during the period of recovery.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing to your appointment and decide on the clothes you’ll wear in the first few days following your surgery. Your clothes should be loose, comfortable and all tops should open at the front and not have to be pulled on over your head. Wear slip-on shoes so you won’t have to bend and use your arms and hands to tie laces.
- Have a place already prepared where you can be comfortable during your recovery. Have your cell phone handy, a book and the TV remote by your side.
- Schedule approximately one to two weeks off from work.
Arm Lift/Flabby Arm Surgery Procedure
In general, the following are the steps your surgeon will take during your arm lift surgery.
- Your plastic surgeon will briefly go over the aesthetic changes that he will be making. You will already have discussed these in your consultations. He will make markings on your arms from elbow to armpits. The locations, length and direction of these incision lines are determined by the type of arm lift surgery that will be performed.
- Next, you will receive general anesthesia or local anesthesia plus sedation, based on your plastic surgeon’s recommendation.
- Once the area is totally anesthetized, your surgeon will make the proper incisions to perform the procedure of removing excess skin and fat. He will make these incisions in a way that will either leave them concealed within the armpits or down the inside of the arms in the most inconspicuous locations possible.
- After the excess skin and fat are removed, sometimes with the aid of liposuction, the surgeon will suture the incisions together, providing a firmer, smoother, more aesthetic upper arm contour. The sutures may be placed beneath the skin and are naturally and gradually absorbed by your body.
- Once the procedure is completed, a sterile dressing and compression garment will be put on your arm and small drains may be put in place.
Arm Lift Surgery Follow Up and Recovery
After your surgery, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will continue to be closely monitored and here are some things you can expect:
- Sterile dressings and compression sleeves will have been placed on your arms, from wrist to armpit, to promote healing and decrease any postoperative swelling or bruising. These bandages are kept in place for approximately 72 hours, the exact timing for taking them off will depend on your plastic surgeon.
- Surgical drains will have been placed to remove fluid that accumulates within the incisions. You will receive instructions on the care of these. You will need to have a friend or family member drive you home and remain with you for at least the first 24 hours following your surgery.
- Expect mild to moderate pain in the first 48 hours after surgery. This should be easily controlled by oral pain medications. Always call the surgeon’s office if you experience significant pain.
- You will have some bruising and swelling, which will be at its peak within the first 48 hours and then will taper off over the next ten days to two weeks.
- Depending on the type of arm lift surgery you have, make sure you have given yourself 1-2 weeks off from work for recovery.
- Do not do any heavy lifting for several weeks following your arm lift surgery.
- Drink only liquids for the first few hours and then eat only light meals for a day or two.
- Sleep with your arms elevated for the first two weeks following your arm lift surgery.
- Get out of bed gently and slowly.
- Start walking gently, as soon as you can, but don’t overdo it. You will be looking for a balance of rest and gentle activity. This will speed recovery.
- It’s important to return to your plastic surgeon’s office for your follow-up visits and never hesitate to contact your surgeon if you have any questions or concerns.
Upper Arm Lift Surgery Results
Patients who have a need for this cosmetic procedure love their new slim and beautifully contoured upper arms.
If you have flabby arms and think arm lift surgery may be right for you, give us a call at Dr. Ganchi’s office to set up an appointment for a consultation. He will be happy to talk with you.