Arm Lift - (Brachioplasty)

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When it comes to weight gain and loss, patterns can be unpredictable and unique to each person. For some people, the upper arms are a source of frustration, often emerging as a surprising “problem area” of stored fat. Sometimes, just exercising the arms isn't enough to produce a sleek and toned upper arm, especially following massive weight loss, or as the body begins to age. While the skin is an amazing organ that can expand and contract with weight loss or gain, the changes are sometimes too much for the skin to cope with, and it can have a hard time springing back to being sleek and firm in the upper arms after significant weight loss.

An arm lift is an effective solution for people who struggle with excess skin and fat in the upper arms, and cannot get the desired results through diet and exercise. An arm lift is a surgical procedure that is performed to remove fat and skin above the elbow for improved contour, and a tighter, sleeker appearance. This is especially helpful for people who have developed “bat wings” (hanging skin) that cause embarrassment. Asymmetry can also be addressed and a favorable contour restored to the arm.

Arm Lift Candidates

Good candidates for the arm lift procedure are women and men with unwanted sagging skin and/or fat in the upper arm and armpit area, which has not responded to regular exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Arm lift surgery is a fairly invasive procedure, and prospective patients should be in general good health to consider undergoing the procedure. Finally, realistic expectations are key for a successful outcome of any plastic surgery procedure.

Arm Lift Procedure

An arm lift is an outpatient surgery performed under general anesthesia, due to the extent of the incisions and the amount of tissue that will be removed. First, an incision is made underneath and to the back of the arm, originating at the armpit and extending down toward the elbow as far as is necessary to address the excess skin of the upper arm. Once the incision has been made, excess skin will be removed from the arm, and tight, youthful contours will be restored. Finally, the incision is closed, typically using absorbable stitches.

If any fat removal is required, liposuction can be performed during the same surgery to address all aesthetic issues of the upper arms. A brachioplasty takes one to two hours to treat both sides, longer if other surgeries are combined with arm rejuvenation. Additional surgeries can be performed at the same time, as long as the surgeon thinks it is safe to do so in a given situation.

Arm Lift Recovery

Following surgery, patients will experience normal post-surgical swelling and discomfort, sometimes even in the lower arms, hands, and fingers, in addition to the upper arms. This can be partially prevented by elevating the arms as much as possible in the first few days following surgery. Since the stitches used in arm lift surgery are usually absorbable, patients can typically spend their first one to two weeks following surgery focusing on healing, and then return to light activity when they are advised to do so and feel up to it. More strenuous activity, including lifting and exercising will need to wait several more weeks, and the swelling from the procedure will subside gradually over the months following surgery. All swelling should be resolved after about six months or so.

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