Arm Lift or Brachiaplasty
Brachiaplasty is a procedure to remove excess skin and fatty tissue from the upper arm. Arm tissue relaxes and descends with ageing, gravity, and weight loss. After significant weight loss most people are left with stretched and excess skin that no amount of exercise will improve. One area particularly affected is the upper arms, where women tend to store excess fat and have less supporting muscle tone. The extra sagging can result in a noticeable deformity from the armpit to the elbow. Some call this a "bingo-wing". Where skin has poor elasticity and will not contract with conventional liposculpture, arm-lift is also indicated.
Surgery can remove the excess tissue and reduce the circumference of the upper arm. Surgical correction depends on the amount of extra skin and how loose the supporting tissues have become. Extra skin is removed from incisions along the inner arm leaving only a thin scar. The most common incision extends from the elbow to the armpit; this permits the excision to most successfully address the surplus skin in the middle of the arm.
Surgical sculpture involves not just the superficial skin, but also the deeper attachments that have loosened. A combined excision can sometimes limit the length of the scar. In cases where there is loose skin of the adjacent area of the chest, the incision can be extended to deal with this as well.
Before surgery markings help guide the excision. The actual incision may curve or zigzag to minimize scar contraction. Liposuction can be useful to contour the fat layer. Because of the location of the incisions visible scars can be a major concern. A choice must be made between loose extra skin and the visual impact of scaring from the procedure. Meticulous surgical technique and after-surgery scar care can limit this.
This surgery is not suitable after mastectomy or operations in the axilla (arm-pit) lymph nodes. Those with multiple infections of the sweat gland may also not be suitable for brachioplasty.
This operation is usually done under general anaesthesia or local with sedation. The choice depends on the extent of the operation.
After Surgery Care
Recovery takes one to two weeks. Swelling is generally mild to moderate, and peaks at 2 to 3 days. While each person's recovery is unique, bruising and swelling after an arm lift generally lasts 1 to 2 weeks. You'll probably be able to return to work in a week, and resume exercise within 2. Strenuous workouts and contact sports can be engaged in after about four weeks. You will need to protect the incisions after surgery. Limiting lifting is important. Elevation with pillows increases comfort. It can take 6 months or more to see how the scars will mature.
Brachioplasty, like any other surgery, can produce complications and your surgeon will discuss these with you:
1. Bleeding: this is a rare complication
2. Infection: although very uncommon, this complication may need treatment with antibiotics and drainage.
3. Poor wound healing: blood supply to the skin may sometimes be compromised because of tightness of wound closure or because of persistent smoking. This may slow healing and result in an unfavourable scar that may, at a later stage, have to be revised.
4. Scar: some patients may have a tendency to form thick or even keloid scars and these will require treatment with steroid injections, and may have to be revised at a later stage.
5. Numbness: this is normal and it may take months to regain full feeling. Permanent numbness can occur but is rare.