Purpose: To improve shape and size of the arms
Length of operation: 1-2 hrs
Anaesthesia: General anaesthetic
Inpatient stay: 2-3 days
Followup: 1 week, 3 months, 6months and 1 year
Time off work: 2-3 weeks
Recovery: 4 weeks
Risks: Scar contracture, hypertrophic scar, Infection, bleeding, asymmetry, loss of sensations, deep vein thrombosis
Arm lift or Brachiaplasty is a procedure to improve the shape and size of the arms. It is typically done in patients who have had substantial weight changes and do not like the appearance of the arms. The procedure can be combined with other procedures which are mentioned in the Massive Weight Loss section of the website.
The procedure typically involves surgery with or without liposuction. The results are generally excellent with high satisfaction rates. In this information system I am going to go through the whole procedure, giving you a view of what Arm Lift surgery involves in terms of the operation, hospital stay, recovery and the complications. I am quite happy to see you again for a second consultation, so that you can clarify any of your doubts.
Procedure / Hospital Stay
It is advisable to stop smoking for 4 weeks and prior to the procedure. On the day of the operation, the surgeon with do skin markings over the arms. Photographs for documentation and teaching purposes are standard and will be discussed. The procedure is done under general anaesthetic and takes about 1-2 hours to perform. The procedure is done using a long incision with a zig-zag pattern at the upper end in the arm pit area. Skin and excess tissue is removed from the inner side of the arm and simultaneously lifted to reduce the bulk of the arm and improve contour. Liposuction is done where necessary to remove fatty deposits.Multiple drains are used as a standard and the stitches are all dissolving in nature.
Some local pressure with a garment or dressings is useful straight after the procedure as it reduces discomfort and also helps skin to stick down. While you are in hospital you will have blood tests, fluids through a drip and pain killers. You will feel quite bruised and swollen after the operation and this settles in due course. We take precautions to prevent clots in your calves by putting on stockings and giving you a blood thinning injection. The hospital stay is conventionally 1-2 days and depends on your recovery, additional procedures and drain removal.
Recovery After Surgery
At discharge, the dressing stays on and you need to attend the dressing clinic in a week time. The dressing is taken down and you should wear a support garment, day and night for 2 months. You will be given some pain killers to take home. Further dressings may or may not be required depending on the wound. You will be seen again in 3 months time. Photographs will be taken at this stage.
You should avoid smoking for 4 weeks after the procedure. Recovery is individual, but most patients get back to work and driving in 4 weeks time. Swimming is usually possible at about 8-10 weeks time. The arm size and shape is best assessed at 6 months after surgery. Occasionally further procedures may be necessary to get the desired result.
Overall results are excellent but there are some well known limitations, risks and complications which you should be aware about:
- Scars, hypertrophic scars, keloids
- Scar visibility can result despite every care to mask the scar in the inner arm area.
- Both arms tend to be asymmetrical and this will persist after surgery.
- Arms and the body is never static and will change with age and weight changes .
- Haematomas (blood clot, which may need evacuation in theatre).
- Seromas (collection of body fluid)
- Skin necrosis and wound breakdown.
- Scar contracture can occur due to scar pull and scar placement particularly in the arm pit area.
- Lymphoedema can result due to disruption of the fine channels which drain the arm to the armpit. However this is again uncommon and Dr Sanjay Azad takes great care to avoid this complication.
- Loss of sensation in the arm due to superficial nerve damage which generally recovers, but in some cases is permanent.
- Inadequate arm reduction
- Tissue taken from the arm is weighed and documented
- Further surgery may be occasionally necessary to achieve the desired result.