Brachioplasty Q&A

What does an arm lift entail? Is it just skin removal or do you remove fat as well?

 An arm lift includes the removal of excess skin and fat from the upper arm.  This can be achieved through direct excision of skin and fat, with or without liposuction. 

  - Who is the ideal candidate for an arm lift? Is it only for patients with a significant amount of excess skin?

 An arm lift is for anyone with extra skin of the upper arm, with or without excessive fat.  For instance, massive weight loss patients who have lost significant volume of the upper arm and have extra, deflated skin are typical candidates.  Patients with focal areas of fat in the upper arm resistant to diet and exercise are also candidates.

  - How long does the procedure take? Is it performed under general anesthesia?

 An arm lift is performed under general anesthesia and generally takes about an hour or two.  If liposuction is also done, that can add a small amount of time to the procedure. 

  - What does the recovery process entail? When can patients expect to see final results?

 The recovery process includes soreness, swelling, and limitations on lifting heavy objects for several weeks.  The arms are wrapped or kept in a compressive garment to help manage swelling.  Pain medication is utilized as needed. Lifting the arms, carrying, and lifting objects are gradually increased once the incision is healed, usually beginning at around 2 weeks postop.

  - Is there significant scarring?

 The trade-off for removing extra skin is placing a scar on the arm.  The degree of scar burden is proportional to the amount of extra skin.  The scar can be placed posteriorly on the upper arm, on the inner arm under the biceps muscle, or some patients with minimal extra skin may be candidates for a shorter scar in the armpit. 

  - Are the results permanent? Do patients need to make any lifestyle adjustments for best results?

 The results are permanent as long as the patient doesn’t gain a significant amount of weight which can deposit fat in the arm and stretch out the skin.  The scar is permanent but can be improved through a variety of scar optimization techniques.

  - For patients who are looking for more toned arms, are there any other procedures you recommend?

 Having an arm lift will not affect the appearance of the arm muscles.  To tone the upper arms, I generally recommend working out the biceps, triceps, and shoulders with light weights with multiple repetitions a few days per week.  This can be done as “prehab” before the surgery and continued at 4-6 weeks after surgery, or whenever the incision is completely healed.

Lauren Chmielewski