Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)
Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
An Arm Lift or Brachioplasty is performed to surgically eliminate loose, hanging skin from the upper arms. Aging, long term excessive sun exposure, and significant weight loss can all lead to a loss of skin elasticity. Our surgeons will evaluate your upper arms to assess the amount and location of the fatty tissue as well as the degree of skin laxity. In patients with relatively good skin tone, liposuction or non-invasive skin tightening may be all that is recommended for contour improvement. While liposuction can be performed to reduce the amount of fatty tissue in the upper arms, there will be little if any skin tightening effect. Excess fat is generally only removed by liposuction from the inner aspect of the arm through small incisions located along the inner elbow and the posterior aspect of the armpit. If the skin is loose and has poor tone, an arm lift is the only procedure that will lead to a significant contour improvement. Liposuction is commonly performed prior to brachioplasty to maximize the aesthetic result.
How Is It Done?
In the standing position, the area of excess skin is marked. The incision is usually placed on the inner surface of the upper arm, and may extend from the elbow to the armpit. The pattern of the tissue to be removed is designed in such a way that the resulting scar cannot be seen from the front or back view when your arms are held at your side. Of course, the scar may be visible when you raise your arms. Incisions are sometimes made on the inner and under surface of your arm in a zigzag pattern for better healing. In some cases, skin excision may be limited to the underarm area. After the excess skin and fat is removed, the remaining skin is brought together and sutured and the incisions are covered with adhesive strips. A drain may be placed prior to skin closure to eliminate excess fluid, depending on the amount of skin and fat removed. While you are still in the operating room, elastic bandages or some type of a compression garment is applied to help control swelling.
Recovering After Surgery
During the first week after the procedure, your arms should be elevated as much as possible. Some type of compression garment should be worn at all times, except when showering, for three to four weeks. We also advise waiting at least three to four weeks before engaging in aerobic exercise and six weeks for any upper arm workouts. Some tightness could remain in the area for up to three months. The scars may remain pink for 9 months to one year or longer.
What Are The Risks?
The scars from an arm lift are permanent and may be visible in any position other than when the arms are hanging at the sides. Women who have had a mastectomy are advised not to have an arm lift, since the surgery interrupts some of the lymphatic drainage and the combined procedures may cause the arm to swell permanently (lymphedema). People with a history of phlebitis or inflamed blood vessels in either arm should not undergo brachioplasty.
Learn more about arm lift surgery offered by our experienced board certified plastic surgeons with The Plastic Surgery Group, New Jersey.
Contact The Plastic Surgery Group (offices Montclair & Manhattan) for more information on arm lift procedures.