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The arms are a major area of concern in women because of the exposure when wearing sleeveless blouses, tank tops, and certain dresses. Brachioplasty, or arm lift, can address arms that are too full or that sag.
What are the main issues with arms requiring an arm lift?
As one ages, the skin of the arm loses elasticity. This can cause wrinkling and sagging of the upper arm skin (between the armpit and the elbow). Weight gain in the upper arm area is also an issue and can contribute to the fullness. When heavier patients lose substantial amounts of weight, the problems of sag and fullness in the upper arms can be compounded.
How do you perform an arm lift?
The two main issues, fat and skin, determine the approach. Commonly both are involved.
If the only issue is fat, and the skin tone is very good, liposuction alone may allow for reduction of the fullness of the arms. This is usually limited to younger patients as skin tone loss in the upper arms is very common as we age.
If the skin is saggy and wrinkly, skin must be removed. Also, if removing the excess fat through liposuction will cause excessive sag, then again, skin must be removed.
Can working out improve the arms?
While toning the arm muscles is always a good idea, it will not reduce fat in the arms or take up excess skin. Dramatically increasing muscle size by heavy weight training is not easy and produces a look that most women do not find attractive. Weight loss can improve the arms by losing weight in this area – but that will only work if your skin tone is good. Massive weight loss patients commonly need arm lifts to remove the excess skin.
Where are the incision and scars?
In the typical arm lift, an incision is designed to run in the inner part of the arm toward the bottom. This is chosen because it is least visible, and tends to run where a natural shadow occurs. With your arms at your side, the incision will generally not be seen. If the armpit or side of your chest is full, the incision may extend from the arm, through the armpit, onto the lateral chest.
What is the recovery from an arm lift like?
Arm lifts are performed on an outpatient basis – you go home the same day as the surgery. Your arms will be wrapped with an elastic bandage, or you’ll be placed in a vest with arms to provide light compression. There will be limitations as to your activity, specifically designed to limit the movement of your arms, but you will be able to perform normal daily activities. Most patients can drive after 2-3 days, and you can do office work, such as computer work, the day following the surgery. Commonly, patients will take a week off from work. At six weeks following surgery, there are no limitations, but between 1 and 6 weeks, I do limit vigorous lifting and straining.
What are the downsides of an arm lift?
The major downside is the incisional scar. While scars generally are good, they can be thicker or redder than ideal. Because of the exposed nature of the upper arm with current fashions, the scar can be quite visible. The potential problems related to a less than ideal scar must be weighed against the benefits of dramatically improved contour. Other risks will be discussed in detail at your consultation, but those risks are generally small.
What about a mini-lift or armpit lift?
Recent techniques to remove or tuck the skin under the arm in the armpit (or axilla) are generally very limited in their effectiveness. As only a small amount of skin is removed, most patients will not accomplish their goal using mini-lift. If the skin tone is good, however, liposuction alone can be quite effective with only tiny incisions.
What about combining arm lifts with a breast lift or reduction, or with a tummy tuck?
This is a very common and very efficient way to improve body contour by approaching multiple areas at the same time.
Am I a good candidate for an arm lift?
The best way to determine if you’re a good candidate is to have a consultation. We’ll discuss the procedure in great detail, including the risks and potential complications, and recovery process. I’ll show you photographs of other patients, and show you where on your arm the incisions will be. We can also determine if liposuction alone, or a mini-lift is suitable for you.
To learn more about what you can expect during a Arm Lift, or to schedule your consultation with Dr. Barnett at either his San Francisco or Walnut Creek office, please complete the form on this page or call (415) 362-1221