There are a few reasons one can develop overly large arms. Weight gain, of course, is an obvious culprit, but likewise, weight loss can create droopy, saggy skin that does not tone up” no matter what a person does. For some, regardless of how their arms became misshapen, large arms or droopy arm skin can be a source of embarrassment and shame. Some may limit the clothes they wear and others may limit the activities they participate in. Anything to make sure the arms are covered and their size and shape hidden from view.
What is an arm lift?
An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is an option for saggy, large, droopy upper arms. It can also treat excess fat or skin at the arm crease in the armpit where the arm meets the shoulder. Arm lifts create a smaller, firmer upper arm, removing excess fat, tissue and skin as needed.
For those who only need excess fat removed but still have excellent skin elasticity, an arm lift can be performed with liposuction alone. There are no incisions or scars and healing is the same as for any other liposuction procedure.
Others may suffer from excess fat and/or excess skin. Liposuction alone cannot solve this problem. Since skin loses its elasticity as we age, the skin at the arm can begin to droop simply from growing older or from muscle or weight loss. In these cases, and depending on the extent of extra skin and tissue, incisions will need to be made to enable the physician to remove excess skin, tissue and fat and to tighten ligaments and muscles.
What is the arm lift procedure?
The length and placement of the incisions will depend on the amount of excess skin and tissue. If there is limited excess skin, the incision can be limited to the armpit or slightly down the arm. However, other people may require an incision that runs the length of the upper arm from the armpit to the elbow. The incision is carefully placed to ensure that the physician has the needed access to tighten ligaments and appropriately remove excess skin. However, it is also placed to be in the least conspicuous part of the arm, if possible.
The surgery typically takes about two hours and patients are under a mild general anesthesia. Most patients go home the same day, but there is an option to spend the night in the hospital as well. After the procedure, the arms are dressed and bandaged and the patient will wear a compression garment for up to a week following the procedure to promote healing and reduce swelling. Drainage tubes are needed for the first two to three days. Some pain and discomfort should be expected the first three to five days after the procedure. This is treated with pain medication. Most can return to work within two weeks, but lifting should be limited for at least six weeks.
What are the potential risks and complications with an arm lift procedure?
All surgeries come with some level of risk and complications, however these are very rare. Some risks with arm lifts include swelling, infection and numbness down the arm. Bruising rarely happens with this procedure. Arm lifts beyond basic liposuction will always have some level of scarring and for some the scarring can be extensive, running from the armpit to the elbow. While the surgeon always places the incisions in the most inconspicuous position possible, the extent to which a person scars is very individualistic. Another thing to keep in mind is the length of time it takes for a scar to completely heal. Scars typically take a full two years to mature. While drastic improvements are apparent in the first six months after the operation, changes in the scar will continue for eighteen months.
Arm lifts can greatly help a person who feels embarrassed or limited due to arm size or saggy skin. They can create a sleeker physical look as well as bolster self-esteem. It also comes with the added confidence that when you wave good bye to saggy upper arms, those saggy upper arms are no longer waving right back.
If you would like more information on the arm lift procedure or to set up an appointment with Dr. Volshteyn, our board certified plastic surgeon, please call our office today 732-641-3350.