Arm lift surgery, also known as brachioplasty, can remove the excess skin and fat deposits, leaving the upper arms with a more pleasing and youthful contour. As a person ages, upper arm skin can become loose and flabby. Arm lift patients, who visit us in Houston and Webster, Texas, from Pearland, Clear Lake, and beyond, typically desire this procedure if they wish to tighten this skin to achieve a more youthful look. The incision extends from the elbow to the underarm, and sometimes on to the side of the chest. In some instances, we may recommend that liposuction be used alone or in conjunction with an arm lift to remove excess fat in the upper arms.
Upper arm excess in a massive weight loss patient usually crosses the armpit and involves loose skin that extends onto the chest region. Brachioplasty, or upper arm reduction surgery, usually involves reducing the skin through a scar that runs on the inner part of the upper arm, often crossing onto the armpit.
For patients who have minimal upper arm fat excess, with no skin excess, liposuction alone can be effective. For patients that have some extra skin that is minimal in nature and located near the armpit, an improvement can be attained through a scar limited to the armpit. For patients who present with a lot of upper arm excess, as in the case of most massive weight loss patients, tissue must be removed through a scar that runs from the elbow, through the armpit, and onto the side of the chest.
If you are a smoker, it is recommended that you stop smoking well in advance of the surgery. Smoking can affect your ability to heal. Certain medications that increase the risk of bleeding such as aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and some vitamins/homeopathic regimens should be discontinued prior to your arm lift surgery.
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Arm lift surgery can be performed on a large variety of patients including normal weight patients who simply need a little tightening. However the majority of patients are massive weight loss patients that have stabilized their weight loss and do not have out of control medical problems. They present with excess skin and fat in their upper arms. Many of these patients complain that their arms feel and look like “bat wings.” Occasionally, some older women have a lot of extra skin that is bothersome and would also be reasonable candidates.
Postoperative pain is subjective and will vary considerably from person to person. The average patient undergoing an upper arm reduction procedure will usually require a few days of oral pain medication to treat discomfort. Over a 7-10 day period, most people resolve the majority of their acute postoperative pain.
Upper arm reduction involves the removal of skin and necessitates the creation of a scar that starts near the elbow, traverses to the armpit and infrequently crosses onto the chest wall. Any scar goes through a maturation process, which takes a year to complete. Most scars are conspicuous, at least initially. We try to place the scar so that with the patient’s arm up in a waving posture, the scar isn’t visible from the front or back. If we are especially successful, we can frequently get the scar to sit so that it is not visible from the front or back with the arm at the side.
Immediately after surgery some patients will have a feeling of tightness in the upper arm as the area swells due to the trauma of surgery. Some patients may develop swelling and some tingling of the hands as well. Most of these symptoms resolve with time.
Most arm lifts are performed under a general anesthetic in our fully accredited AAASF facility. See examples of arm lift surgeries in our Photo Gallery.
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