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Armlift (brachioplasty)

An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure in which the skin of the inner arm is excised and repaired. The procedure is performed when extra skin rather than fat is the underlying problem. Also, if the skin has poor elasticity and will not contract with conventional liposculpture then brachioplasty is indicated. This procedure can lift and tighten up loose skin in the upper arms, resulting in a firmer, more youthful contour.

The effects of aging over time change the skin resulting in a loss in thickness, elasticity and adherence to the underlying tissue. In addition, the deep layers of fat, muscle and bone thin as well. One area where both men and women notice these changes is the upper arm.

An arm lift is usually not suitable for women who have had a mastectomy. The drainage of fluid from the arm may be damaged and further surgery can lead to persistent swelling. People who have repeated infections in the armpit, or suffer from excess sweat formation (axillary hidradenitis), should consider liposuction as the cosmetic procedure of choice in reducing the thickness of the arm.

 

How is arm lift surgery performed?

The surgeon begins by marking the area of excess skin to be treated. Incisions are made on the inner and under surface of the arm. The pattern of skin removal usually follows an elliptical or triangular shape. The surgical opening may run from the armpit to as low as the elbow. If desired, fat may be suctioned at this time. The remaining skin is stretched and sutured (stitched) into place. A drain may be placed to extract excess fluids from the incision site. This will allow for enhanced adherence of the skin and underlying tissue. The incisions are then bandaged.

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How long does an arm lift surgery take?

An arm lift is generally completed in approximately two hours.

What type of anesthesia is used?

An arm lift is usually performed using local anesthesia along with a light sedative to make you feel drowsy and relaxed. General anesthesia may also be used, causing you to be asleep during the whole procedure.

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Where is the procedure performed?

This procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis, in the surgeon's office-based surgical suite, an outpatient surgery center or hospital.

When can I return home and resume normal activities?

After a brief stay in the recovery room, you will be allowed to go home. If general anesthesia is used, you should arrange for someone to drive you home and assist you with your daily activities during your recovery period. Normal activities may be resumed in approximately one to two weeks.

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How do I prepare for arm lift surgery procedure?

During your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss the changes that you would like to make to your appearance. Since the appearance of your arm is a matter of personal perception and preference, you will need to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon can determine the appropriate alternatives. An arm lift procedure does not affect muscle tone, therefore, you should speak with your surgeon about how to tone and firm the muscle beneath the skin both before and after your procedure. You also should make arrangements ahead of time for someone to drive you to and from your procedure and to assist you with your daily activities during your recovery period.

Prior to your surgical procedure, the surgeon will perform a complete health history and physical. Knowledge of your allergies, medications and previous surgeries should be brought to your surgeon's attention at this time. Specific instructions to assist you in preparing for this procedure will be given to you after the health history and physical is complete. Depending on your individual health status, the instructions may include guidelines regarding your diet, alcohol intake, smoking and which medications to take or avoid. Your experience will be much smoother if you remain compliant with your surgeon's instructions.

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What precautions are necessary during recovery?

While each person's recovery is unique, the recovery period after an arm lift generally lasts one to two weeks. For the first week following surgery, you will have to avoid strenuous activity, including bending and lifting. You will probably be able to return to work in a week and resume exercise within two weeks. Strenuous workouts and contact sports can be engaged in after about four weeks. Your surgeon will remove any stitches that are not absorbed after about one week. Please ask your surgeon for after care instructions specific to your case, as these will assist you during your recovery period.

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What are the possible complications after arm lift surgery?

The most common risks associated with this type of surgery include, but are not limited to, a reaction to the anesthesia used, excessive bleeding, infection, visible scarring, asymmetry or irregularities, and changes in nerve sensation. No procedure is without risks; however, the majority of complications known to be associated with an arm lift are minor when the procedure is performed by an experienced board certified plastic surgeon. It is always important to be informed about the possible complications before any surgery. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your surgeon.

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What results can I expect after arm lift surgery?

Your arm will be placed in a special compression garment to help the newly sculpted skin adhere to the tissue underneath. You will probably have several layers of stitches on the upper arm. A drain may be inserted to help the skin to adhere to the underlying tissue. The stitches may be absorbed or removed by your surgeon during your follow-up visit.

Please note that the natural aging process will eventually affect the whole body, including the area treated in this procedure. The contouring effects of arm lifts are typically long lasting, and most people are very pleased with the appearance of balance and proportion in the contour of the arm.

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