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Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

Brachioplasty is a procedure to remove excess skin and fatty tissue from the upper arm.

Arm tissue relaxes and descends with ageing, gravity, and weight loss. Especially after significant weight loss, most people are left with stretched and excess skin that no amount of exercise will improve. One area particularly affected is the upper arms, where women tend to store excess fat and have less supporting muscle tone.

The drooping of skin is from a stretching of the anchoring fascial system and loss of supporting fat. The extra sagging can result in a significant "loose hammock" like deformity from the axilla to the elbow. Some call this a "bat wing" deformity. Also, if the skin has poor elasticity and will not contract with conventional liposculpture then brachioplasty is indicated.

Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
The Surgery

Brachioplasty is usually done under general anaesthesia. It involves excision of skin along the lower border of the arm and will leave a thin scar along the inside of the arm. There are different degrees of ptosis (drooping) deformity. Brachioplasty can remove the excess tissue and reduce the circumference of the upper arm. Surgical correction depends on the amount of extra skin and how loose the supporting tissues have become. Extra skin is removed from incisions along the inner arm. The incision must be placed where the tissue can be best tightened.

Armlift before and after surgery

The most common incision used for brachioplasty extends from the elbow to the axilla. This permits the excision to maximally address the redundant skin in the middle of the arm. Modification of the incision may be necessary to limit scar contracture in the axilla. Surgical sculpture involves not just the superficial skin, but also the deeper attachments that have loosened.

A combined excision can sometimes limit the length of the scar between the elbow and axilla. In cases where there is loose skin of the lateral chest, the incision can be extended to deal with the extra tissue there.

Before brachioplasty surgery markings help guide the excision. The actual incision may curve or zigzag to minimise scar contraction. Liposuction can be useful to contour the fat layer. A skinny rubber drain may be used after surgery to remove fluids.

Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
Risks

Because of the level of the brachioplasty incisions, visible scars can be a major concern. It becomes a choice between the loose wobbling extra skin and the scar from the excision. Meticulous surgical technique and good after surgery scar care can limit the degree of scarring.

Clothing style can help camouflage some of the brachioplasty scar, but not the loose skin before surgery. Other possible complications include persistent swelling of the arm, infection, bruising, and bleeding. Nerve injury can result in numbness and change in feeling.

Brachioplasty is not suitable after mastectomy or operations in the axilla lymph nodes. Those with multiple infections of the sweat gland may also not be candidates for brachioplasty. Drainage of the arm may already be impaired, and further surgery may lead to permanent arm swelling.

Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
After Surgery Care

Recovery post brachioplasty takes one to two weeks. Swelling is generally mild to moderate, and peaks at 2 to 3 days. While each person's recovery is unique, bruising and swelling after an arm lift generally lasts 1 to 2 weeks. You'll probably be able to return to work in a week, and resume exercise within 2 weeks. Strenuous workouts and contact sports can be engaged in after about four weeks.

The dressing may be extensive after brachioplasty with elastic support or something smaller. You will need to protect the incisions after surgery. Limiting lifting is important. Elevation with pillows increases comfort. It can take 6 months or more to see how the scars will evolve.

Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
Results

Patients benefit from improved balance and proportion in the contour of the arm, often resulting in greater confidence and comfort in clothing.