Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)/Reduction
Changes in weight, growing older and genetics can cause your upper arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance. Exercise may strengthen and improve the underlying muscle tone of the upper arm, but it cannot address excess skin that has lost elasticity or underlying weakened tissues and localised fat deposits.
If the underside of your upper arms are sagging or appear loose due to excess skin and fat, an arm lift may be right for you.
What is an arm lift/reduction?
It is a surgical procedure that reshapes the under portion of the upper arm, from the underarm region to the elbow. The procedure is performed to reduce excess sagging skin that droops downward, tightening and smoothing the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm and reducing localised pockets of fat in the upper arm region. The result is a more toned and proportionate appearance with smoother skin and contours (if you have excess fat you might need liposuction as well).
Is it the correct operation for me?
In general, candidates for an arm lift include:
- Adults with significant upper arm skin laxity
- Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations.
You will be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle; you must be honest in your answers.
The following will be considered:
- Why you want the surgery, your expectations and desired outcome
- Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- Use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs
- Previous surgeries
- Your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- Options together with a recommend course of treatment
- Expected outcomes of arm lift surgery and any risks or potential complications
Preparing for surgery
Prior to surgery, you may be asked to have a preoperative screen and blood tests, take certain medications or adjust your current medications, stop smoking four weeks prior to surgery, avoid taking Aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding. Standardised photographs must be taken for your medical record. Special instructions you receive will cover: post-operative care and follow-up, and what to do on the day of surgery.
You will need to wear a garment post-operatively, either a long sleeved lycra cycling shirt, or a post arm reduction garment which can be ordered from one of the many websites in the UK supplying such items prior to your surgery.
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anaesthesia. Your consultant will recommend the best choice for you.
The incision length and pattern will depend upon the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. Incisions are generally placed on the inside of the arm or on the back of the arm, depending on the surgeon’s preference, and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. If fat is to be reduced during your arm lift, it will be excised or treated with liposuction.
- Inner Arm Incision (there are other variations including adding a fish tail proximally)
- Back of Arm Incision
- Minimal Incision (for more modest cases)
Closing the incisions
The incisions are usually closed with absorbable sutures, sometimes stitches are used that will be removed within 2 weeks following your arm lift. With the minimal incision techniques deep sutures are placed to the deep fascia. Drains will often be used, which will need to be removed.
The smoother, tighter contours that result from brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following your procedure, although initial results will be somewhat obscured by swelling and bruising. Your new, shapely and toned upper arm is much improved both in appearance and feel.
After Discharge from Hospital
You will be required to wear your tapes for the first week, and then your post arm reduction garment for a further 5 weeks.
If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats you should seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalisation and additional treatment.
Surgery is not an exact science and although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
Post Operative Care
Surgical incisions must not be subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. You will be given specific instructions on how to care for yourself.
It’s very important to ask us questions about your arm lift procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings.
Following your surgery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and your arms may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
You will be given specific instructions that may include: how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection, specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health, and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
The results will be long-lasting
The results of arm lift surgery will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.
You will have tapes on for a week after surgery. You will see the nurse one week later for removal of these tapes, and to help you into your garment. Generally absorbable sutures are used although sometimes sutures need to be removed at two weeks.
You can resume office / normal activity at two weeks and exercise at six weeks. You will see the nurse at one week, and your plastic surgeon at regular intervals.
Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. The cost for an arm lift may vary based on the type of procedure used. Following your consultation a package price will be provided to you in writing. This price will include the surgeon’s fee, anaesthetist’s fee and hospital costs; it will not include additional items such as post-operative garments.
As with any surgery there are risks associated with the procedure, the decision to have arm lift surgery is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits versus the risks and potential complications are acceptable. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure together with any risks and potential complications.
These risks include:
- Unfavourable scarring (e.g. thickened/keloid)
- Bleeding (haematoma)
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Anaesthesia risks (PE, DVT)
- Poor wound healing
- Skin loss
- Blood clots
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- Major wound separation
- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs
- Pain, which may persist
- Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
- Possibility of revisional surgery
Potential complications will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions at the time of your consultation.