Guide to arm-lift surgery/brachioplasty

Arm-lift surgery or brachioplasty is a cosmetic surgery procedure that is designed to reshape the upper arm by removing skin and fat from the area. The upper arm here extends from the underarm to the elbow.

Age, heredity and frequent loss and gain of weight can cause the skin of your upper arms to sag. This is because the skin has lost its suppleness, or because of the presence of weak tissues and fat deposits under the skin that affect the appearance of the upper arm. An arm lift surgery can remove this excess skin and any fat deposits from the upper arm area, and tone the tissue that gives shape to the upper arm, giving you smoothly contoured arms and skin that is firm and toned.

Eligibility for arm-lift surgery
Individuals of any age who are not excessively over weight and do not suffer from any medical condition that could be a risk for surgery are eligible for brachioplasty. There should be good skin laxity in the upper arm.

During preliminary consultations, your surgeon will want to know if you have any drug allergies, if you smoke, the amount of alcohol intake, the use of vitamins and other supplements etc. He will evaluate your current health condition, and look for any risk factors for the surgery. He will also take photographs of your upper arm, and discuss the kind of surgery you need.

Non-eligibility for arm-lift surgery
Individuals who have undergone a mastectomy are not recommended for a brachioplasty. Those who have sweat gland infections are also not advised to undergo the procedure. If you are in the process of losing weight, you will need to wait until after you have lost the required amount of weight before undergoing a brachioplasty. This is because weight loss leaves you with excess skin, necessitating another surgery to remove the skin. If you have skin that does not heal easily, or leaves highly visible scars, you can expect excessive scaring after a brachioplasty.

Preparing for arm-lift surgery
If you are a smoker, you will be advised to stop smoking ahead of surgery. You will also be asked to avoid to taking anti-inflammatory medications, as well as herbal supplements because they increase the risk of bleeding. You will also be asked to get lab tests done.

Brachioplasty is generally performed under general anesthesia. The procedure can last anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. The surgeon will make an incision, the length of which depends on the amount of excess skin that has to be removed, as well as the location. The cuts may be on the inside arm or on the back. If your case requires removal of fat deposits, the surgeon will use liposuction procedures to remove the fat. The underlying tissue is then reshaped. Your surgeon will use either dissolvable sutures, or non dissolvable ones that can be removed within a week or two after surgery.

Post-recovery care
You will be expected to remain in hospital for at least a couple of days. There can be some amount of bruising and swelling, although pain is minimal. Sutures will be removed within a week after the operation, although the deeper ones may be left there at least until 2 or 3 weeks later. You will be given antibiotics to prevent the risk of infection. Strenuous physical activity should be avoided for at least one month. You may be required to make several post surgery visits to the surgeon.

The results of an upper-arm-lift surgery are visible soon after surgery, once the bruising and swelling is settled.

Complications of arm-lift surgery

  • There may be bleeding in the surgery site.
  • There can be infections.
  • There could be long-lasting effects of the anesthesia.
  • Nerve damage is a possibility.
  • In rare cases, there can be blood clots.
  • Brachioplasty always results in a permanent scar.  They eventually lighten in color, although they may appear to be really dark during the first 6 months. Occasionally, excessive scaring may occur.
  • There may be numbness in the skin.
  • There may be discoloration or swelling that lasts for long.
  • In rare cases, cardiac and pulmonary complications may occur.
  • There can even be an irregular or asymmetrical appearance of the arms after the surgery.

In conclusion, brachioplasty, when performed by a skilled surgeon, can dramatically enhance the appearance of the upper arm. The only drawback of this procedure is the scar that remains.