When Should I Consider a Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)?
- Excessive loose and sagging skin of the upper arms; typically related to significant weight loss.
- Loss of skin elasticity, tone, and stretch marks to the upper arms.
- A smoother, tighter, flatter appearance to the upper arms.
- Reduction or elimination of excess skin from the upper arms.
- Improved overall contour to the upper arms.
The Gillian Institute’s body contouring and reshaping philosophy is based on maintaining the feminine contours of the body. We will only recommend a contouring procedure such as an arm lift procedure if the risk vs benefit ratio is maintained with favorable beneficial results. The arm lift procedure does not cause significant pain post operative, but is difficult to maintain proper positioning for adequate healing of the incisions. The incisions are placed in the most inconspicuous location (inner arm toward the back) and will extend in a horizontal fashion at the axilla, but some scarring will always be visible in the inner arm. The incision located in the axilla or armpit area is at a high risk for separation of the incision due to the location and the increased tension with raising the arms and using the arms frequently. The arm lift procedure is recommended and performed most commonly with weight loss patients, whom have lost 100 lbs or more and are experiencing a high degree of excess skin laxity, stretch marks, and overhanging skin to the inner arms. Conservative liposuction is performed at the same time as the arm lift procedure for contouring purposes. If a significant amount of fatty tissue reduction is necessary as well, liposuction may be recommended prior to the arm lift procedure to achieve optimal results.
The inner arm skin and tissue is tightened resulting in a more toned appearance. Patients feel more comfortable with wearing short sleeved shirts and tank tops following surgery. The incision is concealed but requires limiting arm movements over 90 degrees for the first 2-3 weeks following surgery. Due to the persistent visibility of the incision, the risk vs. benefit ratio for the medial thigh lift procedure is evaluated and discussed during the consultation. Liposuction is performed at the same time or prior to the arm lift procedure for optimal contouring purposes. No amount of exercise or weight lifting program will result in an improved appearance of the inner arm skin redundancy, but typically weight loss will procedure more excess skin.
The future of plastic and cosmetic surgery will evolve to address the skin laxity in such a difficult area as the inner arm with recommendations based on non-surgical skin tightening options. Currently, the technology has not produced a permanent, predictable tool for skin tightening with visible, significant results. But this advancement will be available soon for patients.
Patients are required to stop smoking and use of all tobacco products a minimum of 6 months prior to surgery to decrease the risk of complications related to healing and decreased blood flow to the tissue and skin resulting in skin necrosis and incision separation. Smoking has been shown to decrease blood flow by 30% to the incision and tissue resulting in complications related to healing, which will significantly increase the recovery period. Ideally, the longer the smoking has ceased the better in terms of reducing the risk of complications. We would also recommend you are within 15-20 lbs of your ideal body weight to optimize the final result and to decrease the risk of complications related to healing.
Planning the Surgery
Time Off Work:
You will want to take 14 days off work. You must also restrict arm movements to less than 90 degrees for the first 2-3 weeks.
You will need someone to take care of you for the first 48-72 hours post-operative and is recommended to have a caregiver whom can assist you with normal daily activities to avoid overuse of raising the arms for the first one week. If you will also need a driver for the first 1-2 weeks post operative.
The Day of Surgery:
The procedure is typically performed as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia. The procedure typically take approximately 3-5 hours.
Light dressings are placed after surgery and skin glue adhesive with steri-strips in combination with clips are placed along the incision for one to two weeks. A scar treatment for the incision is started at two-three weeks after surgery to improve the scarring. Light activity including ambulation every 2-3 hours is recommended within the first 1-2 weeks. Patients will have a drain placed to each arm and will not be allowed to shower until the drain is removed in the office. Patients should refrain from vigorous activities for at least 6-8 weeks. Topifoam compression pads are placed under the compression device for the first 1-2 weeks to reduce swelling and encourage skin contraction. The compression device is recommended for the first 6 weeks to reduce swelling and provide support. The majority of swelling will be resolved by 8-12 weeks. Post-operative external ultrasound is also recommend to reduce swelling, areas of firmness, and encourage the lymphatic system to positively respond to the swelling and healing process. Light activity is possible within 12-14 days and will become more comfortable over 2 -3 weeks postoperative. If a separation to the incision occurs post-operative, antibiotic ointment or dressing changes are performed and the incision will heal within a few months completely. After one year following the surgery, a scar revision to the area(s) will be evaluated and discussed.
Note: It is important to address any concerns with The Gillian Institute at the time of your consultation. There is some risk, as with any surgical procedure. Minor complications that do not affect the final outcome occur occasionally. Major complications are unusual. Our doctors can explain the procedure and potential complications to you in detail, and she can assist you in determining if an arm lift procedure is right for you.