An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a procedure used to time the skin of the upper arms. The upper arms have a tendency to become loose and accumulate fatty deposits after massive weight loss from gastric bypass, weight gain, changes in weight, or simply aging. Patients often referred to the deformity as “bat wings” for “flabby arms”. An arm lift, or brachioplasty, improves the contour of the arm, tightens the skin, and gives a more toned and smooth appearance.
In Dr. Frank Agullo’s experience, many patients are able to avoid the scars related with arm lifts or brachioplasty by using SmartLipo or laser assisted liposuction. This procedure is limited to patients with mild to moderate amounts of excess skin and fatty tissue in the arms. The laser assisted liposuction aids in causing skin contracture and liposuction is used to remove fatty tissue. Scars are limited to two small scars less than a quarter inch in length at the level of elbows. A full consultation will help determine whether you are a good candidate for this procedure.
Best candidates for the procedure
In general, the best candidates for the procedure are:
- patients with significant arm skin laxity
- patients with increased fatty tissue in the arms
- patients with massive weight loss after gastric bypass
- healthy individuals
A full consultation will help determine whether you are a good candidate for the procedure.
Preparing for the surgery
After a full consultation with Dr. Agullo, he will explain how to get ready for the surgery date. Depending on your age and overall medical health, labs or medical evaluation by your primary care physician, might be necessary. You should be at a stable weight and continue a healthy diet before and after the surgery.
Before any procedure you should avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and some herbal supplements, as these could increase the risk of bleeding. A special multivitamin and supplements like arnica and bromelain are recommended in preparation for surgery and during recovery.
The arm lift or brachioplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia at a certified outpatient surgery center or hospital. It is usually an outpatient procedure, meaning that the patient will go home the same day.
The procedure itself depends on the amount of excess skin and fatty tissue removed. There are three main types of incision:
- Mini arm lift or mini brachioplasty a small transverse incision is used at the axillary fold. This procedure is limited to patients with very little excess skin in the arms, good skin quality, limited fatty tissue, and no stretch marks.
- Short arm lift or short brachioplastly In patients with a mild degree of excess skin and fatty tissue of the arms, a short T-shaped scar is used. This scar is comprised over a small transverse incision at the axillary fold… and a longitudinal incision which extends from the axilla to the mid-arm.
- Standard arm lift or standard brachioplastly This is the most common type of arm lift. This technique is indicated in most moderate to severe degrees of arm laxity and fatty deposits. A scar is placed from the axilla to the elbow. The scar can be placed at the inner aspect of the arm or the posterior aspect of the arm.
- Extended arm lift or extended brachioplastlyThis technique is reserved for severe cases of excess skin in the arms. This degree of excess skin is usually due to massive weight loss after gastric bypass. With this technique the scar extends past the elbow down towards the lateral chest. It is often combined with a breast lift or mastopexy.
After an arm lift or brachioplastly most patients go home the same day. You will be given a compression garment, which will help control the swelling of the arms. You will be given antibiotics and pain medication. Medication is also given in case you have nausea.
Recovery varies from one to three weeks depending on each patient and the extent of surgery. Even with the compression garments you will experience swelling and bruising, which will last between two and four weeks.
All sutures are placed beneath the skin and are absorbed. There is usually no need for suture removal. Results will be evident immediately after surgery but will continue to improve up to six months after surgery when all healing and swelling are completed.
The results of an arm lift are long-lasting as long as you maintain your weight and fitness.
Dr. Agullo will discuss the possible risks and complications of arm lift or brachioplastly during your initial consultation. Prior to the procedure you will be asked to sign a consent form explaining all the risks and complications. The risk and complications for brachioplastly include but are not limited to:
- unfavorable scarring
- delayed wound healing
- need for revision surgery
- numbness or other changes in skin sensation
The cost for an arm lift will vary significantly depending on the technique utilized and the extent of tissue excision necessary. The cost can range from $6,000 – $9,000. A full consultation is necessary to help determine the best procedure for you. Always insist on a board certified plastic surgeon practicing at a certified health facility.
Commonly combined procedures
An arm lift or brachioplastly is often combined with other procedures including liposuction, breast lift or mastopexy, excision of lateral chest fold, and/or excision of back folds. The combination of all of the above mentioned procedures constitutes a full upper body lift and it is common after massive weight loss after bariatric surgery. The upper body lift can also be combined with a lower body lift. The combination of an upper and lower body lift is called a total body lift.