An arm lift or brachioplasty is one body contouring procedure that has grown in popularity. Statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) found that 17,860 arm lifts were performed in 2016, which represents a 5,184% increase over the number of the same procedures that were performed in 2000.
An arm lift addresses the issue of sagging and droopy arms. The procedure can change the shape of the upper arm by removing excess skin. Plastic surgeons also may tighten and smooth the supportive tissue that gives the upper arm its shape. During the procedure, the surgeon may reduce pockets of fat that are interfering with the shape of the arm. As a result, patients look better and feel more comfortable in clothes that expose the upper arm.
Ideal candidates for an arm lift have significant, noticeable laxity in the upper arms. In general, the procedure is more successful on people who are not severely overweight and whose weight are stable. It is recommended that candidates be at or close to their ideal weight before undergoing this procedure. Some people who seek this cosmetic surgery have lost significant weight and are left with excessive skin under the arm along with fat deposits.
As with other plastic surgery procedures, the ideal candidates are in overall good health and are nonsmokers. For those who do smoke, you will be instructed to stop smoking 6 weeks before and after surgery to ensure that nicotine will not interfere with healing issues. People who have conditions that might impair healing or increase the risks of undergoing surgery are generally not considered good candidates.
There are several options in performing an upper arm lift:
- Standard Brachioplasty– A standard arm lift is performed to remove excess skin between the armpit and the elbow.
- Limited-Incision Brachioplasty – With a limited-incision procedure, the excess skin that is close to the underarm area is pulled and tucked into the armpit. Candidates should also not have too much excess fat tissue.
- Extended Brachioplasty– An extended arm lift treats the upper arm as well as the side of the chest wall to remove extra skin and fat tissues. Candidates for this procedure include those who have had massive weight loss.
- Arm Liposuction– Candidates whose skin is sufficiently elastic may be able to undergo liposuction alone to remove localized fat deposits. Liposuction can also be used for fat removal in conjunction with a standard brachioplasty.
Scarring is one main concern that patients have about the arm lift procedure. Arm lift scars will vary depending on the procedure performed. An extended brachioplasty will likely result in larger scars as the incision is made along the arm down the body that includes excess skin and fat tissues on the chest wall side. On the other hand, a limited-incision brachioplasty will result in smaller scars limited to the underarm area.
Although scarring is inevitable, there are different options for where arm lift scars are placed. A plastic surgeon will determine the appropriate placement of the scar to make it less likely to be seen. The use of silicone cream and strips along with compression can help with decreasing scarring. Properly following your surgeon’s post-operative care is vital to minimize scarring, decrease swelling, and overall recovery.
Your surgeon will provide specific care instructions in order to limit arm movement to recover and heal wounds properly. Restrictions on physical activities include no driving and heavy lifting for a prescribed period. Consuming alcohol and nicotine should be avoided to prevent complications in recovery.