An arm lift, also known as brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove loose skin and excess fat deposits in the upper arm. The aging process or significant changes in body weight can leave a person with sagging upper arms and excess skin.
Your plastic surgeon may suggest that liposuction be used alone or in conjunction with removal of skin to tighten this area and provide slimmer arms. An arm lift – with or without liposuction – can help create a well-defined, trim and toned upper arm that complements your figure as well as your wardrobe. Today’s arm lift techniques are safer and the scars are much less conspicuous than they have been in the past.
Arm Lift Candidates
An arm lift is one of the top four most popular plastic surgery procedures performed following massive weight loss, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This is because people who lose massive amounts of weight tend to have significant amounts of fat hanging under their arms.
The soft tissue of the arm becomes lax, setting the stage for ptosis (sagging), otherwise referred to as the bat-wing appearance. Thin people, too, may have sagging upper arms due to the effects of aging and genetics. Even people who engage in regular exercise including Pilates and strength training cannot get rid of excess, sagging skin that develops in this area.
With every medical procedure there is a possibility of complications, which can cause a longer recovery period. Arm lift risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Loss of sensation
- Swelling of the hands
- Seromas (fluid filled masses along the incision line)
An arm lift typically takes one to three hours depending on the extent of the surgery. It may involve local anesthesia with intravenous sedation – leaving you awake, but not totally aware – or general anesthesia.
Liposuction may be sufficient enough for people with smooth skin and just a small amount of flab. The more invasive total arm lift procedure may benefit people with larger areas of fat underneath the arms, poor skin quality, and sun-damaged skin.
To perform an upper arm lift, your surgeon will make incisions on the inside or back of your arm. Incisions may span from the underarm to just above the elbow. Some people may only require minimal incisions from the area where the inner, upper arm joins the armpit. This is known as a minimal incision arm lift.
You may be a candidate for a minimal incision arm lift if you have a small amount of extra skin located near the armpit. Others, such as people who have lost massive amounts of weight following bariatric surgery, may have more excess skin and will need an incision that runs from the elbow, along the arm pit and onto the side of the chest. Your incision pattern will vary based on the extent of the surgery and your surgeon’s preferred method of treatment.
After the incision is made, excess fat may be removed with liposuction. Excessive skin is then trimmed, tightened and sutured in place with absorbable sutures, or stitches that will be removed within one or two weeks of the surgery. Your skin is then smoothed over the new contour of your arm.
Find out how to prepare for your surgery here.
If you want to tighten the skin of this area, ask your surgeon about brachioplasty.