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Arm Lift – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is a Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)?

Brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift, is a surgical procedure designed to remove extra upper arm skin and fat to give you better proportioned upper arms.  People who have experienced massive weight loss (either due to bariatric surgery or diet and exercise) and those with flabby skin of the upper arms from aging or genetics, are good candidates for this procedure.  Loose skin generally has a limited ability to rebound back once stretched out, and a brachioplasty is often combined with additional procedures for additional aesthetic benefits.

How does an Arm Lift procedure work?

During an arm lift, your surgeon first marks the areas of extra skin and fat, then administers anesthesia.  Incisions will be made on the under-surface of the arm and excess skin and fat will be removed.  A drain will be inserted, to carry excess fluids from the surgical area, before the incisions are closed and bandaged.  The result of the procedure gives a more youthful and sculpted-looking arm.

Will Arm Lift Surgery be painful? 

Post-operative pain varies considerably from patient-to-patient, and the average person will typically require oral pain medication to treat discomfort over a 5-7 day period.

What are the common side effects after an Arm Lift?

After an arm lift procedure, some patients experience a feeling of tightness in the upper arm as the area swells resulting from the surgery.  Another common side effect that patients report is tingling of the hands and this, as well as other symptoms, resolve relatively quickly with time.

Will there be scarring with Arm Lift Surgery?

Upper arm reduction involves the removal of skin and fat, making a scar necessary.  Depending on how much skin and fat needs to be removed, the scar can start near the elbow, traverse to the armpit, and sometimes cross onto the chest wall.  No matter the incision choice, all scars go through a maturation process, that can take up to one year to complete, before they become inconspicuous. Some scars are placed on the inner arm so that it will not be visible when the patient’s arm is by their side, while others are placed towards the back of the arm, so that it is not visible from the front.  The incision technique and location will be discussed in detail during your consultation.

How long does an Arm Lift procedure last?

A brachioplasty generally lasts from 1-3 hours, and most patients will be required to spend at least one night in hospital following their surgery.

What type of anesthesia will be used for Arm Lift Surgery?

Most arm lift surgeries are performed under a general anesthetic, although in some cases, a local anesthetic with sedation may be used.

How long is the recovery period for Arm Lift Surgery?

The recovery period after an arm lift depends on whether the procedure is performed exclusively, or combined with other procedures.  Generally, certain activities such as exercising, are restricted for up to two weeks, and you will be asked to wear a compression garment to aid in the healing process.  Every patient heals differently, but by carefully following the instructions your surgeon provides, you will minimize potential problems and speed your recovery.

Will I have to stop smoking before my Arm Lift procedure?

Your surgeon will advise you to stop smoking at least one month before and one month after surgery, because the nicotine in cigarettes decreases the blood supply to the skin.  Blood supply is a very important factor to the healing process and it is imperative that this guideline is followed.

How do I know if I am a good candidate for an Arm Lift?

A good candidate for an arm lift is a person who has flabby arms, or a combination of excess fat and skin.  Typically, the younger the patient the better, although age does not always matter, and the best candidates are those who are in good health and have realistic expectations about surgery.

Is there anything I need to do before my Surgery?

To reduce bruising and the risk of hematoma, you will be advised to stop blood thinners and vitamin E at least one week before and after surgery. If you are taking prescription blood thinners, you may need to get medical clearance, and ask your doctor for instructions on how to stop taking your medications.  You should also avoid all herbal medication and diet pills (prescription and over-the-counter) at least two weeks prior to surgery and one week following surgery.   You will be required to be in overall good health before your surgery will be performed.

What are the benefits of Arm Lift Surgery?

Sagging upper arms are an embarrassment and they can dictate what a person wears.  An arm lift will restore arms to a slimmer, well-contoured shape, allowing you to feel more confident about your appearance: especially in the summer when “sleeveless” is fashionable.  With the latest advancements in surgical technology, an arm lift is safer and more rewarding than ever because scarring is now kept to a minimum.

When are the Arm Lift sutures removed?

If disposable stitches are not used for your procedure, the sutures will be removed between 1-2 weeks depending on the area of your surgery.

What happens during my Consultation?

During your initial consultation your surgeon will discuss your expectations, concerns, and tell you what you need to know about the arm lift procedure.  Together you will determine if an arm lift is right for you and if so, your surgery will be scheduled and you will receive pre-surgery instructions.

Can other procedures be performed with an Arm Lift?

In many cases, when a patient has a good deal of weight loss they have several areas of the body that need rejuvenation, and they can be combined in one procedure to minimize the recovery time involved with separate surgeries.  Some of the most popular procedures combined with an arm lift include breast augmentation, breast lift, tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), liposuction, and lower body procedures such as a buttock or thigh lift.  During your consultation, your options will be discussed based on your individual circumstances.

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