What is Brachioplasty?
Brachioplasty or arm lift is a surgical procedure that:
- Removes underarm excess skin and fat.
- Tightens the underlying supportive skin tissues to improve contour to the upper arm.
- Improves skin quality and restores a normal appearance of the upper arm.
When to Consider a Brachioplasty
Variations in age and weight can cause your arms to have a loose, saggy appearance. While exercising may improve the underlying muscle tone of your upper arm, it cannot correct the sagginess. In such a case, an arm rejuvenation might be the right solution for you. Below are a few reasons you may want to consider for an arm lift surgery.
- If your weight is normal and you feel your underarm, laxity is ruining your arm’s appearance
- If you have undergone a massive weight loss causing excess upper arm skin and fat
- If the skin on your upper arm skin has lost elasticity and have weak tissues
- If you have a positive outlook with realistic expectations
Brachioplasty Surgery Techniques
Usually, what arm lift techniques to be used will depend on:
- The length of your arm.
- Your skin quality
- The amount of excess underarm fat and skin
Your surgeon will help you make the right decision based on your anatomy and personal preferences. Listed below are a few techniques your surgeon will choose from to conduct the surgery:
Invisible Arm Lift: This method involves removing excess skin at the crease of axilla (armpit) that may result in a short scar. In most cases, it is performed in conjunction with liposuction of the upper arm to remove any fatty tissue.
Traditional Arm Lift: This procedure is used to remove the excess underarm skin and fat that extends from the armpit to your elbow. The incision is normally made on the underside of your arm.
Extended Arm Lift: In an Extended Arm Lift, also known as Thoracic Lift, the incision is made from the armpit down to the area under your arm along the chest wall to remove the excess skin and fatty tissues. This procedure also includes removal of skin along the side of your upper chest.
Liposuction: While this is the least invasive method of fat removal, it may be used as an alternative for patients with good skin quality and elasticity. Liposuction is also used as an adjunct to the standard Brachioplasty procedure for fat removal.
How is a Brachioplasty Performed?
Arm lifts are performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon at either an accredited hospital or ambulatory surgery center. This procedure usually takes one to two hours or longer depending upon the type of surgery you and your surgeon have agreed onon.
Preparations Before the Procedure
Before the procedure, your surgeon will provide detailed pre-operative instructions, explain thoroughly about the procedure and answer any questions that you and your family may have about the surgery.
In advance of your surgery, your surgeon will ask you to:
- Quit smoking two weeks before surgery to promote better healing.
- Stop taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory drugs and some herbal medications that can result in increased bleeding.
- Undergo physical examination such as H&P and CBC (anemia detection) to clear you for surgery.
- Staying hydrated is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.
- If your surgeon recommends weight benchmarks or lifestyle changes, make sure you achieve them in the best possible manner to minimize the chance of complications.
- Also, make sure you have someone to drive you home after surgery and possibly stay with you the first night.
What to Expect on the Day of Surgery?
The goal of your surgeon is to help you achieve the best result with minimal discomfort. Below are a few things you may experience during the procedure.
- Make sure you wear loose and comfortable clothing on the day of surgery.
- Comfort medications with general anesthesia or intravenous sedation will be administered.
- Your surgeon will mark the area on your elbows, arms and armpits to create the incisions.
- Excess skin and fat will be removed.
- The incisions may either be placed under the armpit or extended down the inside of the arms to conceal the scar.
- Liposuction may be used in combination to remove the excess fat and skin.
- Once the incisions are created and the excess fat is removed, the surgeon will bring the incisions together to provide a stronger and smoother arm contour.
- Finally, they will smooth the skin over the new contour of your arm.
- Incisions will be closed with stitches or absorbable sutures. Stitches will fade away within one or two weeks.
- A sterile dressing and a compression garment will be applied. Depending on the surgery, drains may be placed to remove the excess fluid from the surgical site.
Recovery from a Brachioplasty usually takes a minimum of 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the procedure. Your surgeon will explain how long it will take to resume normal activities along with other necessary post-surgical instructions.
While the recovery time and process varies from individual to individual, patients in most cases will have a moderate amount of pain and discomfort, which will last for around 48 hours. You may also experience swelling and bruising that can be alleviated through oral medications. Here are a few suggestions to help a quick recovery.
- Have someone drive you home after surgery and help you at home for 1-2 days.
- Take complete bed rest with arms elevated and avoid any arm movements.
- Follow a balanced diet as discussed with your doctor as decreased activity may lead to various side effects.
- Make sure to increase fluid intake.
- Take pain medication as prescribed. Do not take aspirin or any products containing aspirin unless approved by your physician.
- Be sure to change your bandages and clean your surgical drains, as instructed by your doctor.
- Take sponge baths for the first few days.
- Avoid smoking for faster recovery.
- Start walking as soon as possible, as it helps to reduce swelling and lowers the chances of blood clots.
- Avoid strenuous exercise and activities such as sports for four weeks.
- Around six weeks, you should be able to resume your normal level of activity. Social activities can be resumed 10-14 days after the surgery.
These are general recommendations and should be followed in combination with your doctor’s advice, as they know your individual case best.