Fluctuations in weight, growing older and family history can cause your upper arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance. Exercise may strengthen and improve the underlying muscle tone of the upper arm, but it cannot address excess skin that has lost elasticity or underlying weakened tissues and localized fat deposits.
If the underside of your upper arms are sagging or appear loose and full due to excess skin and fat, an arm lift may be right for you. An arm lift, or brachioplasty:
Arm lifts are performed through an inner upper arm incision, thus in order to achieve your improved upper arm contour, a scar is inevitable on the inside of your upper arm.
In general, candidates for an arm lift include:
Dr Vrtik performs arm lift surgery under full general anaesthesia to optimise your comfort and safety.
The incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. Incisions are generally placed on the inside of the arm and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow.Depending on your specific conditions, incisions may be in the armpit (axilla) only. However, with this technique, tightening of the upper arm contour is very limited.
Inner Arm Incision
Excess skin is then excised with the underlying fat. Sometimes, to assist in shaping and excision of excess skin and fat, liposuction is done concurrently to optimise your upper arm contour. Then, the underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. The skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm.
Your incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures and adhesive tapes.
The decision to have arm lift surgery is extremely personal and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks and potential complications.
Possible risks of Brachioplasty include:
• Unfavourable scarring
• Bleeding (hematoma)
• Fluid accumulation (seroma)
• Anaesthesia risks
• Poor wound healing
• Skin loss
• Blood clots
• Numbness or other changes in skin sensation, in the upper arm and forearm
• Skin discolouration and/or prolonged swelling
• Major wound separation
• Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
• Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs
• Pain, which may persist
• Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
• Sutures may spontaneously surface through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that require removal
• Possibility of revision surgery
Most of the risks are very uncommon, and some people (with particular health problems or specific body shapes), may be at higher risk for specific complications. Dr Vrtik will discuss this with you during your consultation if any of these risks are specifically pertinent to you.
Although arm lift surgery can be an effective procedure where the benefits significantly outweigh the risks, like everything in the practice of medicine and surgery, it is not an exact science. The degree of surgical success can be altered by how each individual’s body responds to surgery and healing. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure; revision surgery may be necessary.
Be sure to ask questions: It’s very important to ask questions about your procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings and any specific concerns with Dr Vrtik or any of our staff members.
Following your surgery, dressings, elastic foamy tapes and bandages will be applied to your incisions to minimize swelling. Small drainage tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.
Overnight stay in hospital is required to ensure that you are comfortable, with good pain control and effective treatment of postoperative nausea if required. Your drainage tubes are usually removed the following day, and your dressings replaced with a compression garment. Once discharged from the hospital, it is essential that you allow adequate rest to promote healing and decrease forces on the wound (thus minimise scarring). It is also recommended that you reframe from lifting and heavy activities for at least 4-6 weeks.
Your first postoperative appointment will be with our nurse in 5-7 days for wound check and further postoperative instructions, in particular, scar management to minimise scar hypertrophy. You first follow-up appointment with Dr Vrtik will be 6-8 weeks for assessment of the contour and scar.
To find out more about your postoperative care, please click here.
The smoother, tighter contours that result from brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following your procedure, although initial results will be somewhat obscured by swelling and bruising. The shape of your upper arms is dramatically improved both in appearance and feel.
The results of arm lift surgery will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.
Brachioplasty may be rebatable from your private health insurance. This will depend on whether your symptoms and severity meet the criteria for a medicare item number. Preoperative photos may be required for application to the Medicare Board in some cases. Use the item number (if you are eligible) when talking to your health insurer; it is also important that you check whether your policy covers plastic surgery.
• Arm lift: A surgical procedure, also known as brachioplasty, to correct sagging of the upper arms.
• Axilla: The underarm area.
• Brachioplasty: A surgical procedure, also known as arm lift, to correct sagging of upper arms.
• General anaesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
• Haematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
• Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
• Skin laxity: Degree of loose skin.
• Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
(Some Information & Illustrations are courtesy of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons)