Hereditary factors, fluctuations in weight, and normal aging can all cause sagging and drooping of the upper arm. Unfortunately, exercising does little to correct this condition. Patients who are bothered by the appearance of their upper arms can choose to have an arm lift, a plastic surgery procedure medically known as a brachioplasty. This procedure reduces excess sagging skin that droops downwards from the arm. It also reduces fat pockets in the upper arm region and smoothes and tightens the underlying tissue to reshape the upper arm.
People who are considering arm lift surgery should be non-smokers who are generally in good health. It is also important to have good skin laxity and to be at a stable weight. An arm lift is generally not appropriate for individuals who are significantly overweight. However, it is a useful tool for people whose arms appear disproportionate to their body weight due to the flabbiness.
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UPMC Western Maryland Plastic Surgery
12502 Willowbrook Road, Suite 460
Cumberland, MD 21502
Hours of Operation:
Tuesday and Thursday 8 am – 5:30 pm
Friday 8 am – 12 pm
Steps Involved in an Arm Lift Surgery
Each procedure starts with the surgeon administering either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation to the patient. Once he or she is comfortable, the surgeon makes one of three possible incisions. This depends on the exact location and amount of excess skin to be removed during surgery. Incisions take place on the inside or back of the arm and typically extend from the underarm to a spot just above the elbow. The surgeon may choose to use liposuction or to excise the arm fat directly.
Some arm lift surgery patients receive a more limited incision depending on the extent of their excess fat. When a patient has had weight loss surgery or lost a large amount of weight on their own, the surgeon may extend the incision to the wall of the chest. In all cases, the plastic surgeon reshapes and tightens the underlying supportive tissue using internal sutures. The last step involves smoothing the skin over the new contour of the arm. The surgeon closes the incisions at this point.
Arm Lift Surgery Recovery
Patients should arrange for a ride home after the procedure due to the effects of the anesthesia as well as soreness of the arms. As with all types of plastic surgery, swelling and bruising is normal and should subside after the first several days. Patients will need to change their sterile bandages at regular intervals as well as take antibiotic medication and pain relievers as directed. Some patients also receive small drainage tubes for blood and fluids that can be discarded. The majority of people do not experience significant pain beyond the first few days after arm lift surgery.
It is essential to avoid strenuous arm movements during the recovery period as this increases the risk of tearing the sutures. The majority of patients feel well enough to return to work one week after surgery. They may resume light exercise after two weeks as long as that does not involve exercising with the arms. Patients need to wait a full six weeks before engaging in activities that place excess weight and pressure on their arms.
Patients who had an arm lift surgery with a minimal incision will experience less scarring than those who required larger cuts. Scars typically run along the underside of the arm from the armpit area to the elbow. Patients can conceal their plastic surgery scars by choosing to wear shirts with sleeves that extend at least to the elbow.