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An arm lift (or Brachioplasty) reduces or eliminates underarm jiggle, so you can proudly wear those sleeveless shirts or dresses. The procedure surgically removes excess skin that is impossible to get rid with exercise.
- 1 What is an Arm Lift?
- 2 Best Candidates
- 3 Types of Arm Lifts
- 4 Consultation
- 5 Preparation
- 6 The Procedure
- 7 Post Arm Lift Recovery
- 8 Results
- 9 Cost
- 10 FAQ
What is an Arm Lift?
Sagging arm skin that doesn’t respond to normal exercise, whether due to aging or weight loss can be addressed with Brachioplasty, commonly known as an arm lift. This procedure surgically removes excess skin from the inner part of the upper arm to create more attractive arm contours that are proportionate to the rest of the body. Both thin and heavier men and women are candidates for an arm lift.
The board-certified surgeons at Plastic Surgery Specialists, located in Marin County, see patients both young and older who have loose skin under the arm resulting from significant weight loss and even hereditary conditions.
Many arm lift candidates have undergone significant weight loss, while others experience arm skin sagging as a result of aging. It’s important for those who desire an arm lift to have a relatively stable body weight that is within, or at least not significantly beyond, the normal range for their height and body structure. All Brachioplasty candidates should also be in reasonably good health before surgery.
Brachioplasty should be reserved for those who are unable to tone their upper arms through regular exercise; exercise can tone muscles, but can’t eliminate sagging skin. Patients who have minimal excess upper arm fat and no excess skin may find Liposuction a more effective treatment to meet their goals.
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Types of Arm Lifts
There are three types of Brachioplasty — Standard Brachioplasty, Mini Brachioplasty and Extended Brachioplasty. During your private consultation, one of our board-certified plastic surgeons will assess which of these techniques will provide optimal results. The procedure can also be paired with Liposuction to address fat deposits, if needed.
A Standard Brachioplasty involves an incision located on the back side of the arm from the elbow to the top of the armpit. Excess skin and fat are appropriately removed and the skin is then redraped and tightened. The incision is closed with sutures. The scar will not be visible from the front and will diminish overtime. If desired, the incision can be made on the inner arm so the scar is not visible from behind, but may be seen from the front. Speak with your surgeon to see which incision placement is the better option for you.
A Mini Brachioplasty is ideal for those who only have a minimal amount of sagging underarm skin. A smaller incision is made in the axilla (armpit) or the top portion of the arm and the scar is hidden in the underarm area. This procedure is only meant for limited skin removal and tightening.
The Extended Brachioplasty, also referred to as an L-shaped Brachioplasty, involves an incision that runs from the elbow, along the arm, ending at the bottom of the armpit. This procedure allows for underarm skin as well as the skin on the side of the chest to be tightened.
During your consultation one of our board-certified plastic surgeons, will listen to your concerns about your arms and your desired goals. Your surgeon will perform an examination to determine if you are a good candidate for Brachioplasty. If you are, your surgeon will make a determination regarding which type of arm lift will provide optimal results. At this time you will receive an individualized preparation list as well as postoperative care instructions. Pricing and quotes can also be discussed at this time. PSS offers convenient financing options designed to fit a wide range of budgets.
There are some preliminary steps to complete before your arm lift. You will be required to complete certain medical tests and examinations. It’s important that you stop smoking a few weeks prior to your surgery, and you should avoid herbal medications and anti-inflammatory drugs as these can increase bleeding. Certain foods such as fruits and lean meats can aid in speeding up recovery time; ask your surgeon for a list of these foods so you can stock up for the length of your recovery.
The night before surgery you will be asked to take a shower with antibacterial soap. You should have all of your prescriptions filled prior to the day of surgery so you have your medications immediately post-surgery. Do not bring any clothing to wear after surgery that requires you to pull it over your head; select something you can wrap around yourself and without the need to lift your arms high. Arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home as you will be unable to drive yourself. It is also recommended to have someone stay overnight with you at least during the first night of recovery.
For patients who have excess skin located near the armpit, a successful arm lift can be performed through an incision right in the armpit, rendering Brachioplasty scars virtually unnoticeable, especially as they begin to fade. For patients who exhibit a lot of excess skin on the upper arm, as can be the case for those who have undergone massive weight loss, tissue must be removed through an incision running from the elbow through the armpit. Your surgeon will take extra care to ensure resulting scars will be as hidden as possible.
In some circumstances, it may also be necessary to extend the incision to an area at the side of the chest. Although there will always be a scar in the armpit, the scar on the inner aspect of the arm itself will vary from a few inches below the axilla to the entire length of the brachium depending on the degree of excess skin. More complex arm procedures can mean Brachioplasty scars, which fade over time. In some cases Liposuction may be done concurrently to reduce the arm size prior to tightening the skin.
During a consultation in our 6,000 square foot medical center in Marin County, our patients can discuss which arm lift option best suits their needs with one of our experienced board-certified plastic surgeons.
Post Arm Lift Recovery
Your arms will be wrapped in bandages and/or a compression garment to reduce any swelling. Patients may be required to wear small drain tubes for excess fluid, and if so you will be given specific instructions on how to care for them. Some numbness in the arms the first couple of weeks after surgery is normal and will subside.
Do not take a shower the week after surgery or until told otherwise. Sponge baths are okay until you are cleared to shower. You will be prescribed antibiotics, pain medication and/or anti-nausea medication; take these medications as instructed. Bandages and drain tubes will be removed within a week at your follow-up appointment. Patients generally return to work or normal activities within 3 to 7 days. You should refrain from strenuous activities and heavy lifting for at least 4-6 weeks.
While you are researching your options for arm lift procedures you may also want to consider learning more about Liposuction in San Francisco. If you are considering an arm lift and live in Novato, Mill Valley, or another area of Marin County, please schedule a consultation with Plastic Surgery Specialists. Contact us at (415) 925-2880 and one of our friendly staff will get the process started.
Results from Brachioplasty are seen immediately after surgery, but best results will be seen in about 3 months, depending on the specific patient. Arm lift surgery will create slim, contoured arms for many years to come, but gaining weight can alter the results. It is important to carry on a healthy lifestyle of exercising and eating well to ensure your results last. It should also be noted that an arm lift cannot prevent loss of skin elasticity due to aging.
The cost of Brachioplasty depends on the degree of your procedure. Undergoing additional body work or facial surgery at the same time will alter the cost of your surgery. You will receive a quote for your procedure during your private consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons after they assess your specific case.
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What kind of scar will I have?
The scar often extends from the elbow to the armpit, which can sometimes be up to 6 inches in length. The scar is not apparent on the outer part of the arms but can be visible for many months after the surgery when the arms are elevated. In cases with severe laxity the excision can include the lax skin to the lateral breast.
How long will I need to wait to use my arms for normal activities?
Most patients can resume limited activities in one to two weeks and full use of arms at about one month.
What is a Mini Brachioplasty?
A Mini Brachioplasty is used in cases of minimal laxity where the incision can be limited to the armpit area. Most of the hair bearing skin of the axilla (armpit) is removed and the scar is limited to that area. This procedure results in a shorter scar but does not work for patients with severe laxity.
How do I know what type of Arm Lift I need?
During your consultation a PSS board-certified plastic surgeon will perform an examination and determine which of the techniques will provide optimal results.
Why doesn’t working out help tighten my arms and prevent the jiggle?
While exercise does wonders for sculpting and toning the muscles underneath, at a certain point due to aging, genetics, weight loss or other factors, under-arm jiggle cannot be solved without removing excess skin and fat. It is unfortunately one of the first places aging becomes obvious.
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