There are many different expressions patients use to tell us how they feel about excess skin of the upper arms. Sometimes referred to as “bat wings”, excess sagging skin can appear after weight loss or with the natural aging process. An Arm Lift (brachioplasty) is a surgical procedure that removes the extra skin from the upper arm and improves your contour so that you look is more slim and shapely.
The Best Candidates
- Are self-conscious about the appearance of the upper arms
- Have excess loose skin of the upper arms
- Are happy trading the removal of excess skin and fat for a visible scar on the arm
- Are not taking blood thinner medications or using nicotine products
- Are healthy and a stable weight
Arm Lift techniques have been refined over the last decade and your Restore SD surgeon will work with you to plan the best operative approach. If you have a bit of extra fat in addition to extra skin, liposuction of the upper arm may be a useful addition. Sometimes liposuction is done as a separate procedure prior to removing the extra skin in order to optimize the final result. Arm lift and breast surgeries are often done at the same time.
Your Arm Lift surgery is done under general anesthesia and generally takes 1 ½ – 2 hours. During the surgery, your Restore SD surgeon will remove the excess skin from your upper arms and sculpt the area into a more slim and shapely appearance. When surgery is complete, you will have compression dressings placed and will have a drain in each surgical site. Arm Lift surgery is an outpatient procedure and you will be able to go home after recovering from anesthesia.
Once you have recovered from anesthesia you are able to go home with a responsible adult who can ideally stay with you for a few days during the early recovery process. Some surgical pain is expected and will be treated with pain medications. Most patients can return to work after 2-3 weeks. Normal daily activities like showering, eating and light activity such as walking can be resumed within 48-72 hours after surgery. Some post-operative swelling is normal and generally resolves within the first 4 weeks after surgery. You should refrain from intense physical activity for 4 weeks. During the recovery period, you will have follow-up with your Restore SD surgeon and will be guided back to your usual activities. Most complications occur from getting too active too early, so select a surgical date that allows an appropriate amount of time to heal and gradually return to your more vigorous activities.
The Combined Procedures
Arm Lift surgery is a very powerful body contouring procedure that restores harmony to your proportions that has been disrupted with weight loss or aging. The procedure can be combined with breast surgery, liposuction using the SAFELipo™ technique, or facial rejuvenation procedures. Your Restore SD surgeon will partner with you to develop a surgical plan that optimizes your result and your safety.
- What happens at my arm lift consultation?
When you arrive at Restore SD Plastic Surgery to discuss arm lift surgery, your Restore SD surgeon will perform a detailed examination as well as review your medical history and any medications you are taking. At your consultation, you will have photos taken with our Vectra 3D imaging system and discuss treatment areas and options while viewing your photos series. With our state of the art Canfield software, potential surgical results can be viewed and adjustments can be made, helping you to visualize possible outcomes.
- Tell me about the scars for arm lift surgery.
The incision for arm lift is placed on the bottom of the arm but can still be visible while wearing short sleeves or sleeveless clothing. Depending on your individual distribution of excess skin, the incision may stop short of the elbow or may extend just beyond. A surgical scar will take 9-12 months to fully mature. Your scar will go through changes during the healing process and your Restore SD team will help you manage this part of your recovery. This can consist of sun avoidance, scar massage, scar cream, and fractionated laser treatments.
- Is there a non-surgical treatment for sagging underarms?
Unfortunately there is no non-invasive solution for this condition. Although some options to include laser and cryotherapy can be offered, they offer minimal skin tightening. With respect to treating sagging underarms, if it sounds too good to be true it probably is!
- I am a massive weight loss patient after bariatric surgery – what do I need to know?
Arm Lift surgery is one of several body contouring procedures that are very effective in restoring your figure and look to a slimmer and youthful one. The various body contouring surgeries after massive weight loss can be staged in a number of ways. Your Restore SD surgeon will listen to your ideas and goals and partner with you to arrive at a surgical plan that optimizes results and safety.
- Why is arm lift surgery for me?
Weight loss through diet and exercise or through bariatric surgery halts or reverses some serious medical conditions such as type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and joint problems. Loose skin of the arms can be an unanticipated side effect of weight loss and can be effectively treated with arm lift surgery. Some skin shrinkage can be expected in the months following weight loss, so surgery is generally not undertaken until you have been at a stable weight for several months.
- Why should I choose Restore SD for my arm lift surgery?
The surgeons at Restore SD Plastic Surgery have over a decade of experience with cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Drs. Douglas and Gallus are both board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and active members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In addition to being fully credentialed, we take the time to listen to your goals and partner with you to develop the best and safest surgical plan that will optimize your results and leave you looking and feeling your best.
- How do I choose a surgeon?
It is important to ask if your surgeon is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. As Board Certified plastic surgeons at Restore SD, we have years of training and expertise in body contouring surgery that cannot be imitated by short courses and alternative certifications. Ensure that your surgeon is proficient in body contouring surgery and arm lift surgery in particular. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of 23 members of the American Board of Medical Specialties. These specialties represent the traditional core of fully trained specialists. Alternative boards have cropped up over the last several years to lend legitimacy to incompletely trained or poorly trained practitioners. Accept nothing less than a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who preferably is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
- How much time off work should I take after arm lift surgery?
Depending on your profession, you should expect to take 2-3 weeks off from work. You will not be able to drive while taking narcotic pain medication and will be wearing arm compression garments. You will need a ride home after having general anesthesia and have a friend or family member stay with you for the first night and a day or two if possible.
- What should I do to prepare for arm lift surgery?
If you have close friends or relatives who have had arm lift surgery – start there! A personal story of their journey may guide you to questions to ask your surgeon and having someone with a shared experience is invaluable. Educate yourself by reading our procedure page and viewing our educational videos. Other sources of information include RealSelf and WebMd.
- I am a smoker – can I have arm lift surgery?
At Restore SD Plastic surgery, we want to deliver safe, consistent, and reproducible results. Smoking tobacco or using any nicotine products has adverse effects on wound healing. Your risk of tissue loss, infection, and prolonged incision healing are much higher if you use nicotine. We recommend a nicotine free period of 8 weeks prior to surgery and at a minimum 4 weeks post operatively. We have a simple urinary nicotine test that we complete in the office to help you on your journey to a safe and gratifying surgical experience with us.
- I have Diabetes – what do I need to know about arm lift surgery?
If you have diabetes it is important to work with your medical team to keep an ideal HbA1C. Diabetes can increase your risk for prolonged wound healing and certain types of infections. Surgery can be safely performed but requires a coordinated effort from patients, surgeons, and medical doctors to attain outstanding results. There are some instances where your Restore SD surgeon may want to postpone surgery until your diabetes is under better control.
- How soon can I travel after having arm lift surgery?
Having surgery means a commitment to an appropriate recovery. We recommend scheduling your surgery at a time that allows enough time to recover and gradually return to your normal activities. Flying, driving long distances, or leaving the immediate area are not recommended until you have been cleared by your surgeon. If you have specific travel needs or require advice for emergency travel soon after a procedure, please let us know and we will be glad to discuss the details with you.