Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
What is an arm lift?
Brachioplasty, or an arm lift as it is more commonly known, is a procedure that:
- Removes excess skin and fat from the inner and lower aspect of the arms
- Improves the contour or the shape of the arms after massive weight loss
- Can be combined with liposuction to dramatically reduce “flabby” arms
Am I a good candidate for arm lift?
- Do you have excess skin and fat over the inner and lower aspects of your arm?
- Have you lost a significant amount of weight leaving behind loose skin around your upper arm?
- Despite significant exercise, do you still lack a toned appearance in your upper arms?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a good candidate for an arm lift.
Planning Your Surgery
If you are interested in an arm lift, schedule an appointment for a consultation with Dr. Panchal. During your initial visit, Dr. Panchal will ask about your medical history, which may impact your ability to have this surgery. For example, if you are a smoker, it is very important that you stop smoking prior to, and after, your arm lift surgery. If you have minimum excess of skin, Dr. Panchal will recommend a smaller incision. If you have maximum excess skin, you will require a longer incision along the inner aspect of the arm. Dr. Panchal might suggest coupling your arm lift with liposuction to further enhance your outcome. After surgery, you will need to wear a compression garment for around six weeks to reduce pain and swelling.
Furthermore, Genesis Plastic Surgery uses 3D Crisalix OCULUS virtual technology to help you decide if arm lift surgery is right for you. Using virtual reality glasses, you will be able to “see” how an arm lift will change your overall appearance before making your decision. For more information about our 3D Crisalix OCULUS technology, click here .
Dr. Panchal only performs arm lifts surgery at outpatient surgical centers, such as Oklahoma Surgicare in Oklahoma City. It is possible to have SmartLipo (if you have minimal fat with minimal excess skin) performed under local anesthesia in Dr. Panchal’s Edmond office.
Unless you are having SmartLipo only, arm lifts are performed under general anesthesia— meaning you will be asleep during the operation.
The Arm Lift Surgery
A complete arm lift surgery usually takes between 2 and 2 ½ hours to perform depending on the amount of excess skin.
The incision is made from the underarm area and extends towards the elbow. The incision is shaped like a hockey stick and the length of the incision varies depending on the laxity (looseness) of the skin. Dr. Panchal tries to limit the length of his incisions to the mid-upper arm so that you can still wear a short-sleeved shirt.
Before making the arm lift incision, Dr. Panchal may perform some liposuction so that he can remove more skin, giving the arm a better contour.
Once the incision is made, Dr. Panchal will remove all the excess skin and fat and close the area in multiple layers. The final incision is closed with stitches underneath the skin. This minimizes the appearance of the scar to a point that is acceptable for most patients.
How does Dr. Panchal differ from other surgeons?
Dr. Panchal is careful not to over-excise the amount of tissue removed because this can lead to poor healing and wide scars. He takes special care in how he closes incisions because closing them too tight can lead to excessive swelling in the forearm. He makes the initial incision in the underarm area so that your arm has a well-contoured normal shape from top to bottom. Finally, he commonly makes his incisions as a zig-zag, as opposed to a straight line, which minimizes the likelihood of keloid formation (raised, highly visible scars) and restricted arm movement at the shoulder.
What are the risks associated with arm lift surgery?
There are always some risks and complications associated with any surgical procedure. Rarely, blood can collect at the incision site, which requires additional surgery to remove the blood blot that is causing the blood to collect. In a few cases, an infection at the incision site may occur. To reduce this risk, Dr. Panchal will prescribe you antibiotics to take before your arm lift surgery and for a few days after the surgery. The incision generally heals with a scar line that is not overtly visible.
It is possible to have a small collection of fluid in the arm (a seroma) after arm lift surgery, but these will generally resolve on their own. If not, a small needle may be needed to remove the collected fluid. Finally, the skin on your arm may be numb for four to six weeks after the arm lift surgery, but this will also resolve on its own.
Smoking before or after surgery certainly increases the risk of complications, so it is recommended that you do not smoke before or after any surgery.
After surgery, you will have pain on for the first few days. However, Dr. Panchal will prescribe you pain medications to help control the pain. You will also have some swelling and bruising after the arm lift, which will also resolve within 2 weeks after surgery. After surgery, you will wear a compression garment for 4-6 weeks that will help keep the swelling and bruising under control. The stitches are under the skin and will not need to be removed.
Returning to Normal Life
You will need someone to assist you with getting up and walking around the house for the first two days after surgery. It generally takes 2 weeks to get back to normal after your arm lift surgery. You can drive a week after surgery. You can participate in aerobic exercise again after 6 weeks.
That being said, it could take up to 3 weeks to feel like your old self again. Younger patients tend to return to normal life slightly faster than older patients.
Your New Look
At about 3 weeks post-surgery, when the swelling has gone down significantly, you will start to see the results of your surgery. As the swelling continues to decrease, you will see the final results of your surgery.