The effects of aging on the skin are familiar to all of us. Over time, the skin changes in four ways: it loses thickness, loses elasticity, loses adherence to the underlying tissue, and is affected by gravity. At the same time, the deep layers of fat, muscle and bone thin as well. The amount of elastic tissue and collagen present in the dermis (the deep layer of the skin) also decreases.
One area where these changes are especially apparent is the upper arm. An arm lift - or brachioplasty - can lift and tighten up loose skin in the upper arms, resulting in a firmer, more youthful contour. If you're considering brachioplasty, the following information will provide you with a good introduction to the procedure. For more detailed information about how this procedure may help you, we recommend that you schedule a consultation with Dr. Kremer.
Frequently asked questions about Arm Lift (Brachioplasty) by Dr. Michael A. Kremer:
- A more youthful appearance and thinner contour to the arms.
- Reduction of flabbiness, extra skin and fat, especially in the upper inner arms.
- Improved appearance in related folds of skin and fat on the upper chest near the armpit, which are particularly apparent when the arms are down at the sides.
- Long-lasting results.
During the initial consultation, you and Dr. Kremer will discuss the changes you want to make in your appearance. He will explain the different options available to you, the procedure itself, and its risks and limitations as well as the kind of anesthesia required.
Dr. Kremer will begin with a physical examination to evaluate your overall weight, your skin and muscle tone, and the fat deposits in your arms. He will also take a medical history, including any medications that you are currently taking. A careful history of your weight, diet and exercise is important as well.
Be sure to ask all the questions you have about the procedure. Learning everything you can about your options, risks and benefits is the key to making an informed decision.
Note: An arm lift procedure does not affect muscle tone. You will need to exercise in order to tone and firm the muscle beneath the skin both before and after your procedure.
Dr. Kremer begins by marking the area of excess skin, with the patient either standing or sitting. The anesthesia is administered. Incisions are made on the inner and under surface of the arm, most often in a zigzagged line. The pattern of skin removal usually follows an elliptical or triangular shape. Often some fat is suctioned at the same time. The surgical opening may run from the armpit to as low as the elbow.
While the excess skin and fat is removed, the remaining skin is stretched and sutured into place. Occasionally a drain is used to lead excess fluids from the site of incision, allowing the skin better to adhere to the tissue beneath. The incisions are then bandaged.
A bilateral arm lift usually takes about two hours. After a monitored time in the recovery room, patients can usually go home the same day.
The procedure most often takes place in a surgical suite as an outpatient procedure.
If the procedure is done with a local anesthetic supplemented by a light sedative, the pain experienced is minimal, although you may feel pressure, movement, or a vibrating sensation. More sedation will further reduce sensations, and general anesthesia will eliminate all sensation. You may experience some discomfort after this procedure. Pain medication, prescribed by Dr. Kremer, can help make you comfortable.
After the procedure you will feel groggy. Your arm will be placed in a special compression garment to help the newly sculpted skin adhere to the tissue underneath. You will probably have several layers of stitches on the upper arm, possibly with a drain inserted to help the skin to adhere to the underlying tissue. After a brief stay in the recovery room, you will be allowed to go home.
For the first week following surgery, you will have to avoid strenuous activity, including bending and lifting. You will be able to shower on the third day after surgery. The swelling is mild to moderate, and peaks at two to three days. Drains will be removed after about 2-3 days. Some grogginess may persist for 5-7 days.
While each person's recovery is unique, the recovery period after an arm lift generally lasts one to two weeks. You'll probably be able to return to work in a week, and resume exercise within two weeks. Strenuous workouts and contact sports can be engaged in after about four weeks.
- Improved balance and proportion in the contour of the arm.
- Greater confidence and comfort in clothing.
- A natural and presentable appearance in the first week that gradually improves further over the next three to six months.
Please note that the natural aging process will eventually affect the whole body, including the area treated in this procedure. Still, the contouring effects of arm lifts are typically long-lasting, and most people are very pleased with their results.
An arm lift is usually not suitable for patients who have had a mastectomy. The drainage of fluid (lymph) from the arm may already be damaged, and further surgery can lead to persistent swelling. Patients who have repeated infections in the armpit, or suffer from excess sweat formation (axillary hidradenitis), may also not be good candidates for this surgery. For some people, liposuction may be a better way to reduce the thickness of the whole arm.
The most common risks associated with this type of surgery include, but are not limited to, a reaction to the anesthesia used, excessive bleeding, wound healing problems, infection, visible scarring, possible asymmetry or irregularities, and possible nerve damage with changes in sensation. Dr. Kremer will discuss other possible risks with you during the consultation.