Procedure – An arm lift, or brachioplasty removes excess sagging skin from the arms, and is often performed after massive weight loss. Fat alone without skin excess can be treated with liposuction. Most patients require a combination of liposuction and skin removal.
Surgery and the incisions – The operation by itself takes approximately 2 hours, but can take longer if combined with other procedures. Most surgeries are performed in an outpatient or inpatient operating suite, under twilight or general anesthesia. Dr. Brown will discuss all options that are right for you during your consultation. Depending on how much skin must be removed, the incisions can extend from the elbow into the armpit, and are most often on the inner portion of the arm. Dr. Brown will decide the best incision for you at your consultation. You can expect to have bandages around the arms from the wrists extending all the way to the top of your arms to help decrease swelling. This will be required for up to two weeks after surgery. You will be able to remove these wraps when you take a shower and will then need to replace them. This will give you the best result as it helps contour the arms. You will also have surgical drains placed that are usually removed one week post-operatively in the office.
Preparing for surgery – Tell Dr. Brown about any medical problems you have, and any problems you may have had with surgery in the past. A history of bleeding problems, nausea with surgery and high blood pressure are all important to disclose to your surgeon, because these are risk factors for post-surgical bleeding. If you smoke, you will be asked to quit for a minimum of 4 weeks prior to surgery as well as 4 weeks after surgery. You will be told which medications to stop and which to take before surgery.
The night before surgery you should shower and wash your armpits with antibacterial soap. If you get sick or have any health issues in the days before surgery, please notify the office at once in case we have to postpone your operation.
Can I go home the day of the surgery? – Arm lifts can be done safely as an outpatient, and most patients will be able to go home the same day. Some patients may prefer to spend a night or two in the hospital on their own accord if they have young children at home or live alone and do not have any help at home.
After Surgery Care
What kind of swelling and bruising can I expect? – To help with swelling, you will have a suction drain placed underneath the skin in each arm. These will be removed 1-2 weeks after surgery. In addition your arms will be wrapped gently to help control swelling. Swelling and bruising are normal signs of the healing process. They occur after any surgery to varying degrees. Swelling peaks at about 48 hours, and then rapidly decreases. By the end of the first few weeks, 50 percent of the swelling is gone. By 6-8 weeks, a majority of the swelling has diminished. By six months, almost all the swelling is gone. Any remaining swelling is almost not perceptible.
What restrictions are there? – You may not shower until Dr. Brown removes your dressings. You should not take a bath, use a hot-tub, or go swimming for at least two weeks. Most patients begin walking around the house the day of surgery. By the end of the first week, you will probably be ready to leave the house for short trips and light walks. More vigorous walking and mild stretching exercises can be resumed about two weeks after surgery. Strenuous activities should not be done until 6 weeks after surgery. Also, you shouldn’t do any heavy lifting (over 10 pounds) during these 6 weeks.
When can I travel? – Traveling after surgery (air travel, long distance car trips, train rides, etc) should not be done before you have had your first postoperative visit. Typically, this occurs 5-7 days after surgery for suture removal. Patients who are at high risk for developing a blood clot should not travel until instructed by their surgeon. Short car trips under 60 minutes can be done before the first visit. A good rule of thumb is when you are off the stronger pain medication and can get up without assistance you are ready to go for a short drive. You should not drive the car yourself, until Dr. Brown gives you clearance for this.
What if I have a problem? – When should I call the office? We always welcome calls from patients. If you have any concerns at any time, please feel free to contact our office. If it is an emergency, the answering service is available 24 hours a day, including weekends and holidays.