The arms, which many love to show off in sleeveless shirts, can either build or reduce confidence depending on their shape and tone. When the upper arms are slender and well-toned with taut skin, they appear young and healthy. However, when the underarms have fatty deposits or sagging skin, which is known as ptosis, they give us a more aged look. Thankfully, an arm lift can take care of many of these concerns while restoring the arms to their youthful beauty.
An arm lift, often called a brachioplasty, is used to get rid of excessive fat and skin from the underside of the arm. As you age, your skin often droops and sags. In addition, some younger patients also end up with extra skin in this location if they have lost a significant amount of weight.
This is an invasive procedure that focuses not only on the outer tissues but also on the deeper tissues that affect the overall shape and tone of your arms. By using incisions that will be kept well-hidden on the underside or backside of your arms, our talented plastic surgeon, Dr. Nicholas Jones, can reshape this area and restore your youthful appearance.
There are more than 15,000 arm lifts performed each year in the United States, and the majority of patients are women. In addition, most individuals seeking brachioplasties are over the age of 40 with a similarly high number of patients over the age of 55.
An ideal candidate for this surgery will be in generally good health without any chronic health conditions or acute skin issues that could limit the effectiveness of this procedure or lead to complications. In addition, patients desiring this procedure are typically unhappy with the look of their upper arms and are unable to reshape their arms through physical activity or diet alone. Indeed, while certain workouts can improve the tone and shape of the arm muscles, a brachioplasty may still be needed to get rid of stubborn fatty deposits and to lift and tighten the skin.
Healthy and stable weight
Realistic outlook and goals for surgery
Committed to a healthy lifestyle
Excess skin on the underarm from weight loss or aging
There are several types of brachioplasty, and after being assessed by Dr. Nicholas Jones, we will together determine which surgical option is best for your needs. In general, the three surgical options most frequently seen include the following:
This procedure is sometimes called a mini arm lift because our plastic surgeon can address the mild condition of excess skin with a very short incision. In fact, sometimes, the incision can be successfully hidden in the armpit. However, this surgery is not appropriate for patients who also have excess fatty deposits throughout the upper arm.
The standard or full upper arm lift is the most frequently seen option, and it provides more extensive results through a longer incision than you would see with the mini arm lift. In this procedure, the surgical incision usually extends from the armpit to the elbow to give our surgeon full access to the excessive tissues.
With the extended lift, the incision not only will extend from the elbow to the armpit but also will reach down the side of your body to address excess skin and tissues that may hang along the side of your chest. This option is often used for patients who have lost a massive amount of weight. With each technique, liposuction may be used as an adjunct to improve your results.
It can be easy to forget that the preparation for a surgery can be just as important as the surgery itself. A proper preparation time can lead to fewer side effects and complications and a shorter, easier recovery period. Preparation for brachioplasty begins with a thorough consultation with your plastic surgeon who will go over your past medical and surgical history, perform a thorough physical assessment and ask about your body goals. Your surgeon may also recommend certain laboratory tests and will advise you to stop smoking and to stop taking certain medications, such as blood thinners and other drugs that can increase the risk of bleeding, when applicable. Finally, you should prepare for the post-operative period by ensuring you have a caregiver for the first 1-3 days to aid in your care and provide transportation to and from the surgery center.
Because brachioplasties are invasive procedures, they are typically performed under general anesthesia to reduce discomfort. However, mini arm lifts may be performed with only intravenous sedation if our surgeon expects the procedure to go quickly.
Once you are asleep or completely comfortable, your surgeon will make the incision. For the most common full upper arm lift, the surgeon makes a long incision from your armpit to your elbow in a place where the resulting scar will be best hidden. Excess skin and fat will be removed. In some cases, liposuction is performed simultaneously to reshape your arm while creating an overall natural look. After, the incision is closed typically with absorbable stitches. Drains are sometimes used depending on your case and your surgeon’s preference.
In general, an arm lift is a very safe procedure as long as you are honest with your surgeon prior to the surgery and are willing to follow your surgeon’s recommendations during the recovery period. However, as with any invasive procedure, there are a few potential risks, including those listed here:
Complications from anesthesia
Nerve or tissue damage
You should always discuss possible risks and side effects with your surgeon to get the most accurate information for your unique case.
The majority of brachioplasties are done on an outpatient basis, and you can expect to return home the same day for recovery. It is important that you have a caregiver to drive you home and help you with everyday tasks around the house for the first few days after surgery in order to rest and avoid complications. In addition, it is vital to attend the follow-up appointments, which will usually be scheduled within the first week after surgery and which will give your surgeon a chance to inspect the surgical area.
Upon returning home, you will have your upper arms wrapped in bandages to reduce swelling, control any bleeding and reduce the risk of infection. At the follow-up appointment, these dressings may be removed.
You should rest for the first several days after surgery and should avoid lifting your arms above the level of your shoulders for the first month. You should avoid vigorous physical activities and most workouts for one to two months to give the area a chance to heal. In addition, you may need to use oral medications to control pain for a brief time. Most patients can return to work within a couple weeks following the procedure.
The most notable benefit of a brachioplasty is a more youthful and pleasing appearance for the upper arms. This safe procedure will lift and tighten loose and excessive skin while removing fatty deposits that did not respond to typical weight loss techniques, such as increased physical activity or a healthier diet. In addition, you will enjoy more natural body proportions, better arm tone and improved confidence without having to deal with highly visible scars.