An Arm Lift surgery or a Brachioplasty is designed to reshape the arms, specifically the back part of your upper arm, from the arm to the elbow. When a person gains weight, there is growth of skin to accommodate the growth in muscle. When there is weight loss, the skin may not have enough elasticity to conform back to the reduced shape and may sag downwards which is not appealing usually. Because there could be skin hooding of lateral parts in the inverted V-shape in patients who had massive weight loss. Exercise can help shape arm muscles, but it cannot change the skin that has lost elasticity. That’s why an Arm Lift surgery is the preferred post weight loss surgery to correct the laxity of lateral parts for good cosmetic results.
A Brachioplasty reduces localized packets of fat in the upper arm region and it gives shape to the arms by smoothening and tightening the underlying muscles and supportive tissue that are responsible for the same. It’s an effective method to reduce excess downward sagging skin and shows promising results in almost all cases. Patients acquire a boost in confidence after the surgery. Brachioplasty is one of the most popular surgeries post massive weight loss.
According to a report published by ASPS, there were more than 17,000 people in USA alone who opted for brachioplasty. This is a massive increase by 5030% since its offering in 2000 when only 338 patients asked for it.
During the surgery most patients are under general anesthesia or sometimes on local anesthesia that keeps the patient awake but relaxed. The patient’s heart rate, blood pressure and other vital signs are constantly monitored by the anesthesiologist throughout the surgery. Antibiotics are administered both during both the post-operative period and the pre-operative period in order to prevent infection.
The surgeon then makes an incision inside your arm or the back part of your arm that extends from your upper arm to your elbow or one that extends partly down to your chest. A minimal incision arm lift is advised in cases the patient has some extra skin in the armpit area. If there is more excess skin then an incision is made as per regular Arm Lift protocol mentioned just above. Therefore, depending on the amount of sagging, incisions will be made to patients.
After making the apt incisions the surgeon goes on to tighten the underlying muscles and removes the excess skin while suctioning out the extra fat. The skin is then reconnected to give a smooth contour after which specific dressings are applied on the incisions. Sutures and absorb-able stitches are used to keep the incision in place.
In the post-operative period elastic bandages are used to keep the arm flexible and minimize swelling. To drain excess fluid or blood from the arms, drains may be placed. The patient may also be required to wear a compression sleeve to keep the swelling down.
In the first few days after the Brachioplasty, patients are advised to take it easy and not do any strenuous menial work. Putting pressure on the arm too early can negatively affect the end product of the surgery. Lifting the arm above the shoulder should be avoided at all costs. Stressful physical and athletic activities should be avoided as they may lead stretching of the incision prematurely and cause fracture. The swelling usually peaks at four days post-operative but it goes down after that time frame. Some pain initially after surgery is expected and pain medications can be a savior in this time. It is also advisable to take antibiotics to prevent infection.
Some stitches usually dissolve on their own while others are usually taken out in one or two weeks. Most patients go back to work in two to three weeks after the Arm Lift surgery.
Though good results are expected, there is no guarantee that the surgery turns out a hundred percent successful. As with any surgery, there are many risks and complications like bleeding, infections, poor wound healing, scarring, fluid accumulation, fat necrosis (death of fat), may affect nerves, blood vessels and muscle and these may pose as a possible need for revision surgeries. Patients must immediately seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms are seen: shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, chest pain, redness of skin or fever.
Arm Lifts have a high success rate and can leave the patient feeling confident and with smooth, toned arms. However, it is perfectly normal for skin to gradually lose elasticity and sag with age. Maintaining a stable, healthy weight can help prolong the effects of the surgery.