Loose upper arm skin may be inherited, or related to weight loss. Fluctuations in weight and the aging process often cause upper arms to have a sagging, drooped appearance. Although exercise will strengthen the muscles of the upper arm, it cannot eliminate excess skin. An arm lift, also known as a brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that can remove the redundant skin of the upper arm, and reshape the upper arm to restore a smooth contour and the proportions of the arm. It is sometimes combined with liposuction of the upper arm to help remove localized areas of fat.
Why an Arm Lift?
- Fight The Signs of Aging: As we age our skin tends to lose elasticity. This can result in sagging, droopy looking arms. An arm lift can tighten muscles & reduce excess skin to help give your arms a more youthful appearance.
- Weight Loss: When a person experiences a significant weight loss through either diet or exercise or through weight loss surgery they are often left with excess, sagging skin. Removing this extra skin can help a person complete their weight loss journey by providing them with the arms they’ve been working for.
- Sun Damage and Smoking: Believe it or not, but sun damage and smoking can contribute to a loss of elasticity in a person’s arms. An arm lift can address the sagging, loose skin associated with sun damage and smoking as well.
- Having Liposuction: If you have had liposuction or are planning on having a liposuction procedure adding an arm lift can help tighten the area once the fat is removed. The two procedures work very well together for those people whose skin needs extra help to conform to the arm’s new shape.
- Improved Self Image: The desire to feel better about ourselves is one of the biggest factors with any cosmetic procedure. The boost in self-confidence and self-esteem from an arm lift procedure cannot be measured. Having a positive self-image is proven to improve both mental and physical health.
How Does It Work?
The brachioplasty procedure is performed in a surgery center or hospital, and requires general anesthesia. It typically takes about two hours. West Palm Beach plastic surgeon Mark Pinsky, MD will mark out the excess skin prior to surgery, and design an incision that will result in a scar that lies underneath your arm, extending from your armpit to your elbow. The length and exact shape of your brachioplasty incision will be determined by the location and amount of excess skin.
The incision will allow removal of the excess skin. The underlying supporting structure, the fascia, will be resuspended to support the arm, and minimize the risk of recurrent laxity. Liposuction, if it is to be performed, is done through the incision, and then the sutures are then placed in the smooth skin over the recontoured arm.
Brachioplasty is not a substitute for weight loss or exercise. To obtain the best results, patients planning to lose weight should be close to their target weight before having this surgery.
Preparing For Surgery
The initial consultation is an opportunity to discuss your expectations, concerns, and questions regarding your arm lift procedure. After an examination of your upper arms, including skin tone and degree of laxity, Dr. Pinsky will offer honest advice about which approach is recommended based on your individual needs and expressed goals. You should be prepared to review your medical history and answer questions about any current medications during the consult. Prior to surgery, you will be asked to:
- Avoid products containing ibuprofen for two weeks
- Stop smoking for at least six weeks
- Avoid alcohol for at least two weeks
- Reduce your sodium intake
- Remain hydrated
- Stop taking vitamins and herbs for at least two weeks
Our office will provide prescriptions for medication and follow-up care instructions prior to the procedure.
After Your Arm Lift
Most patients back to work 5-7 days after brachioplasty. Your doctor will decide with you the appropriate time frame for your recovery. Bruising that is present right after your surgery will disappear within a few weeks, and some swelling can remain for several months. Numbness of the arm skin is expected and can last for a year. Some skin sensation will often gradually return. Scars may worsen for the first 3 to 6 weeks, but this is normal and to be expected. After 9 to 12 months have passed, the scars should begin to flatten and lighten in color, and reach their final appearance.
You can shower two days after surgery and the discomfort is moderate. Pain medication prescribed by Dr. Pinsky can help minimize the pain, but if the discomfort persists, contact Dr. Pinsky immediately. Sutures may be removed 10 to 14 days after surgery although most sutures are the dissolving type and do not require removal. Bandages are removed after one to four days, and the drains will be removed in 10 to 14 days. Dr. Pinsky may instruct you to wear a compressive garment for a recommended amount of time.
After your brachioplasty, you will see an immediate improvement in the shape of your arms. Final results vary person to person and can be seen 3 to 6 months following surgery. The results after brachioplasty can be long lasting if you follow a balanced diet and exercise on a regular basis.