There are many reasons that the upper arms can develop sagging, lax skin and excessive fat. Age, massive weight loss, and/or difficulty toning the arms are all reasons that the upper arms can develop “bat wings”, or flabby, loose, hanging skin on the upper arms. Once this occurs, exercise cannot fix the problem, as the extra skin has been stretched out too far and will generally not retract on its own. This hanging skin is more than just a minor annoyance, and many people who suffer from the problem avoid activities such as swimming, sunbathing, and wearing short sleeves, due to embarrassment. For people who are extremely self-conscious about the appearance of the upper arms, an arm lift (also known as brachioplasty) can be a good solution.
Brachioplasty is a surgical procedure that is used to remove excess skin and fat on the upper arms, tightening the skin and allowing muscle tone to become visible. Once the excess tissue is removed, patients will enjoy sleeker, slimmer, more aesthetically pleasing upper arms. In addition to the cosmetic benefits the procedure offers, patients often become more confident and comfortable, with the weight and annoyance of the extra tissue lifted away.
If you are considering an arm lift procedure in the Miami Beach area, your first step is to consult with prospective plastic surgeons. Dr. Sergio Alvarez offers patients free consultations to help them make a decision and plan their procedures. During your consultation with Dr. Alvarez, you will discuss your goals for the procedure, and Dr. Alvarez will evaluate the extent of the excess tissue on your arms. You will learn more about the arm lift procedure, and you’ll get a chance to get to know Dr. Alvarez and ask questions about your procedure.
Though brachioplasty is an effective and safe procedure, it is not right for every prospective patient. Good candidates for arm lift surgery are women and men in good health who are at a stable weight and have hanging, lax skin and unwanted fat in the upper arm area. Due to safety concerns, patients will need to be non-smokers (or willing to quit) and not have any conditions or essential medications that could cause problems during surgery. Finally, prospective patients must have realistic expectations about the results of the procedure. While brachioplasty can produce beautiful results, it is important for patients to understand the benefits and limitations of the surgery. Only you and your surgeon can determine your individual candidacy for the procedure.
Arm lift surgery is performed on an outpatient basis, so patients can go home shortly after the procedure is complete. General anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia used for the procedure. The incision will be made on the underside of the upper arm, and the length of this incision will vary depending on how much tissue needs to be removed.
Once the incision is made, Dr. Alvarez will remove excess skin and fatty tissue. This will be done in such a way that the arm will be sculpted into an aesthetically pleasing shape. Once this is completed, the skin will be tightened and the incision closed with sutures. Sometimes, patients will need liposuction in combination with arm lift surgery, and this will be performed at the same time as the brachioplasty. The basic procedure takes about an hour or two to complete.
Immediately following the procedure, the incisions will be bandaged and a compression garment will need to be worn. Swelling is to be expected, and the majority of the swelling will disappear over the weeks following surgery, however, residual swelling can persist for longer as the wound heals. Patients should be able to manage any pain and discomfort with prescribed medications.
Most patients feel well enough to return to work within about a week. There will be additional activity restrictions for several weeks following surgery, and each patient will receive detailed instruction on promoting proper healing.
Choosing the Right Surgeon
When choosing a surgeon to perform your surgery, there are several factors that should go into your decision. First, of course, you should choose a talented plastic surgeon with a good reputation for excellent results. Second, you should meet with several surgeons to discuss your options and find a surgeon you feel comfortable with. Finally, you need to be able to trust your surgeon—an important element in any plastic surgery procedure.
How prominent is the scarring from arm lift surgery?
All surgery produces scarring, and arm lift scars are usually larger and more prominent than those from many other cosmetic procedures. The location and length of the scars make them difficult to hide, and arm lift scars tend to fade less than other surgical scarring. However, most patients feel that the benefits of the procedure make up for the scarring that does occur from the surgery.
When can I start exercising again after surgery?
Most surgeons will advise waiting 4-6 weeks to resume exercise, longer for arm exercises. Patients should consult their surgeons for specific instructions on activity restrictions.
What are the potential complications of arm lift surgery?
All surgery carries some risk, and while brachioplasty is a low-risk surgery, there is always potential for complications. For arm lift surgery, these can include:
- Excessive scarring
- Loss of sensation
- Anesthesia complications
- Poor wound healing
What’s the difference between brachioplasty and arm liposuction?
Arm lift (brachioplasty) surgery is designed to reduce excess, hanging skin of the arms, while liposuction is used to resolve unwanted stubborn fat for better contour. While the two procedures can be combined, some patients will benefit from arm lift surgery without liposuction, and vice versa. Only you and your doctor can make the decision about which procedures are best for achieving your specific goals.
Will I ever have loose, hanging skin on my arms again after surgery?
Arm lift surgery is considered permanent, and it is unlikely that you will ever develop hanging, excess skin again following surgery. Significant weight gain, followed by weight loss, can cause the problem to recur, though it is rare. This is why patients should be careful to maintain a stable weight, both before and after surgery.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Alvarez in Miami by filling out the contact form here or call (305) 600-4146.