An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a great procedure for patients with significantly loose upper arm skin from weight loss or aging. This procedure is most beneficial for patients with excess skin as well as fat. An arm lift removes both excess skin and fat, leaving the upper arms with a tighter contour. Based on the unique case, Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, Dr. Charles Hsu may use liposuction alone or in conjunction with an arm lift to further remove excess fat in the upper arms to give the patient their best results.
Best Candidates for Arm Lift
In general, candidates for an arm lift include:
Adults with significant upper arm skin laxity (looseness)
Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight
Patients who desire more contoured arms
Patients who do not have excess fat but have excess skin
In the initial consultation, Dr. Hsu will ask about the patient’s full medical history, including allergies and medications, and the patient’s specific upper arm concerns. After a physical examination, Dr. Hsu will talk to the patient about how an arm lift can and cannot reach their goals. Once the patient decides to have the arm lift, Dr. Hsu will spend time to create the best plan and timing for the patient’s surgery.
Dr. Hsu will pinch the skin to determine exactly where there is excess skin and fat. Based on this, he will create an incision that is inconspicuously hidden on the inner (medial) arm. He will tighten the skin to improve the contour while also preventing the scar from widening or having difficulties healing. He will only cut skin and fat, leaving the muscles and nerves untouched.
Recovery and Post-Op
After the arm lift, Dr. Hsu will wrap the arms in surgical dressings, which need to remain in place and dry until the first follow up appointment. Patients may take prescription pain medication, if needed, but they cannot drive while under the effects of the medication. Most patient return to work after 2 weeks and can ease into strenuous activities and exercise after 6 weeks. Follow up appointments are scheduled for up to a year after the surgery.
From Dr. Hsu
“In my experience, arm lift (brachioplasty) is more often done for functional than cosmetic reasons. Often times, patients who come to me for arm lift are those who have lost a lot of weight. In these patients, the excess skin can actually interfere with exercise. Removing the excess skin can then be a really great goal, because it helps the patient to get back to an active lifestyle and can improve their quality of life.
In the right patient, with dramatic skin excess, the arm lift procedure can definitely help appearance. But I’ve found that for many patients who only have a little bit of excess skin, it is not worth having the scar in order to obtain some minimal/moderate benefit in arm contour. For these patients, some of them are reasonable candidates for liposuction, if there is some excess fat that can be removed, since that can sometimes tighten the skin to some degree as well.”
Frequently Asked Questions
What can I expect from my final Arm Lift results?
The smoother, tighter contours that result from brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following the procedure, although initial results will be somewhat obscured by swelling and bruising. As long as the patient’s weight does not fluctuate, the results of the upper arm lift should last for many years. The body will continue to age, including the skin, which may lead to loose skin in the future. If the patient gains considerable weight after the surgery and then lose the weight, loose skin will return. In either scenario, subsequent arm laxity will be far less significant than before the arm lift surgery.
What are some recovery tips for Arm Lift surgery?
A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect. Most patients take about a week off from work and other obligations to heal. To help the recovery process, patients should keep the arm elevated and avoid heavy lifting for at least a few weeks after surgery. Patients can experience soreness, tenderness, tightness, bruising, swelling, and redness as their arms heal.
Where will the incision be made in a Arm Lift?
Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as Dr. Hsu's best judgment. Incisions are generally placed on the inside of the arm or on the back of the arm, and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. If fat is to be reduced during the arm lift, it will be treated with liposuction. Depending on the patient’s specific conditions, incisions may be more limited. The incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures, or stitches that will be removed within 1-2 weeks following the arm lift.