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What is Arm Lift Surgery?

Arm lift surgery, also known as brachioplasty, aims to surgically remove loose excess skin from the elbow to the underarm. In cases when excess fat is present, liposuction can be used in conjunction with an arm lift, which may result in greater tone definition of the upper arms.

Strength training and exercise may achieve toned arms; however, it cannot lessen loose and hanging skin on the arms. Loose skin is the result of weakened tissues that can only be removed surgically. The following are indications for arm lift surgery:

  • Loose, hanging underarm skin (bat wings)
  • Significant weight loss resulting in loose hanging skin
  • Arm skin is continually rubbing, causing the skin to chafe

Are You a Good Candidate?

With an arm lift, patients can tighten loose skin and reshape their upper arms. Arm lift surgery can significantly improve the appearance of the upper arms in both men and women. The three main factors that contribute to lax, sagging skin are weight gain or loss, aging, and genetics. You may be considering arm lift surgery if:

  • You desire to achieve a more toned and youthful appearance in the upper arms
  • The skin on your arms sagging or hanging (bat wings)
  • Your upper arms have loose skin
  • You are committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet
  • You have lost weight and have loose underarm skin

The Procedure

Most commonly, arm lift surgery is performed with general anesthesia.

Your plastic surgeon will create incisions on the undersides of your arms. The pattern and length of the incisions will be dependent on how much skin is being removed.

Through the incisions, your plastic surgeon will tighten and secure the underlying tissues of your arm and secure them with surgical sutures (stitches). The surgeon may also use liposuction to remove excess fat, creating better arm tone definition.

Next, the surgeon will drape the skin over the new contours, and then he or she will remove the excess skin.

Lastly, the surgeon will use surgical tape or sutures to close the incisions. Arm lift surgery can take anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to complete; however, the procedure may take longer depending on the severity of the case.

Recovery

One to two weeks of recovery time should be planned before your arm lift surgery. You will be provided post-operative instructions, and your surgeon will provide you with information about each stage of your recovery. It is important to monitor the surgery site for any changes. Any increased swelling, redness, or drainage should be reported to your surgeon as soon as possible.

Tighter, smoother, and more defined contours of the arms are apparent almost immediately after arm lift surgery. Although bruising and swelling are temporary, these symptoms should begin to subside within two weeks. A scar will remain where the incision was made, however, it will improve and fade drastically over time.

It is common to feel discomfort after arm lift surgery and you will be provided medication to relieve symptoms of pain. After the surgery, the incisions will be covered in bandages and the arms will be wrapped in compression bandages to decrease swelling. Drains may be placed into the arms to drain any excess fluid or blood.

It is recommended to avoid lifting your arms above shoulder level for 3 to 4 weeks. Physical exercise and strenuous activities should be avoided between 4 to 8 weeks, to avoid stretching the incisions on the arms.

Some stitches are designed to dissolve on their own, however, others must be removed in the doctor’s office. Be sure to ask your doctor about when your stitches will be removed.

Benefits of Arm Lift Surgery

Arm lift surgery is a safe procedure that offers noticeable, long-lasting results. The lines and contours of the arms can drastically improve, allowing patients to enjoy the results of brachioplasty for many years.

While it is impossible to avoid the natural effects of aging, arm lift procedures can:

  • Tighten the skin around the arms
  • Achieve more toned-looking arms
  • Relieve the effects of skin chafing
  • Relieve the discomfort caused by hanging skin on the arms
  • Can help boost your self-esteem
  • Can help you feel more comfortable in a variety of clothing
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