As you age, the skin on the upper arms changes and may become saggier and looser. Significant weight loss can also lead to the undersides of the upper arms drooping, making you self-conscious about your appearance.
To address the problem, you can have an arm lift to enhance the appearance of the upper part of your upper arms.
This procedure, also known as a brachioplasty, involves the removes extra fat and skin between your elbow and armpit. The skin that is left is draped over your new contours to make the arms look more toned. It also will boost your self-image, and you’ll feel more at ease about wearing short sleeves again.
Dr. Smita R. Ramanadham is a double board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive skill and experience in many body-shaping cosmetic procedures, such as arm lifts. Dr. Smita also regularly performs other facial and body procedures in New Jersey, New York City, and Tri-state areas.
Arm Lift Procedure
The general steps for an arm lift are:
Your plastic surgeon will administer IV or general sedation, depending on your needs. You will be drowsy for the rest of the day when you wake up, so remember to have someone available to drive you home.
The incision pattern and length during arm lift surgery depend on the amount and location of extra skin to be removed. Dr Smita will check your arms during the consultation to determine how much tissue should be removed.
Most surgeons place incisions on the inside or the back of the arm, depending on the situation. The incisions also may extend from the armpit to above the elbow. Extra fat may be cut out or removed with liposuction.
Depending on your anatomy, the surgeon may use fewer incisions. Next, underlying supportive tissue is reshaped and tightened with sutures, then the skin is tightened and smoothed over the arm.
The surgeon closes the incisions with stitches, or absorbable sutures are taken out one or two weeks after surgery.
However, there will be swelling and bruising, so it will take two or three months to see the final result.
Before and After Images
Arm Lift Benefits
There are many benefits of having an arm lift that make it worthwhile for many men and women:
- Reduces sagging skin and smooths and tightens supportive tissues under your arms.
- Enhances your comfort after you lose a significant amount of weight.
- Avoids rashes and inflammation because of extra skin folds that can cause infection.
- Reduces hygiene problems.
- Enhances self-esteem
Most patients enjoy seeing their sculpted, smooth arms, which gives them more self-confidence. You also feel freer to wear short sleeves or a bathing suit without worrying about how your arms look.
Ideal Candidates For Arm Lift
Several factors make patients good candidates for an arm lift:
- Genetics: You can eat a healthy diet and exercise, but you still may have loose, sagging skin under the arms. Many women inherit this tendency from their mothers, and surgery may be the only option.
- As we age, skin loses elasticity and tends to sag and droop in women’s upper arms.
- If you lose weight, you may wind up with skin hanging on the upper arms.
You also should be near your ideal weight, not smoke, and have no bleeding or healing problems.
Surgery Preparation For Arm Lift
Before your arm lift, Dr. Smita will give you instructions to prepare for surgery:
- Have a medical evaluation and possibly blood tests to determine you’re healthy enough for surgery.
- Take certain medications to prepare for the arm lift, or stop taking certain medications.
- If you smoke, you need to stop several weeks before and after surgery; tobacco use can interfere with the healing process.
- Don’t take anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, or herbal supplements before surgery because they can increase bleeding.
Also, you will undergo IV or general anesthesia, so you won’t be able to drive home from surgery. Make sure you have a friend or family member available to take you home.
It also helps to have someone stay with you for a few days to help with things around the home.
Arm Lift Risks and Complications
Under the care of a board-certified plastic surgeon, most arm lifts go well with few severe complications. However, an arm lift is major surgery, so it’s essential to be aware of potential risks:
- Excessive scarring: You will have incision scars on your arms, but they are usually where they cannot be easily seen. In a few cases, incisions may be raised and red after they heal. However, your surgeon may treat the problem by injecting corticosteroids to improve their appearance.
- Asymmetry: Some patients may have one arm that looks bigger than the other, which can happen as the arms heal. While the surgeon will try to make the arms symmetrical, there will be slight differences between them.
- Skin sensation changes: When you have the arm lift, the superficial sensory nerves may be affected, which can cause temporary numbness.
- Stitch problems: Stitches the surgeon uses to sculpt the new shape of the arm may get under the skin surface and need to be removed. This can inflame the affected skin, and you may require revision surgery.
Also, arm lift surgery isn’t a good fit for every patient. Your surgeon may not recommend an arm lift if:
- You’re seriously overweight
- Change weights often
- Have a medical problem that affects healing
- You smoke – you should quit several weeks before and after surgery for proper wound healing
Arm Lift Recovery
Your upper arms will be covered with bandages and possibly a compression garment after surgery. This will help reduce swelling.
You should have a friend or family member available to help you at home for the first three or four days. For example, they may go grocery shopping for you and help prepare meals.
It’s essential to drink a lot of fluids and eat healthy foods after surgery. In addition, staying hydrated will improve your recovery time.
As you recover, you can expect mild pain for the first week or two, as well as swelling and bruising. You should plan fewer activities for the first one or two weeks, and it helps to use pillows to elevate the arms when you sit or lie down.
Wear loose clothing that is easy to put on and remove. Also, keep an eye on your incisions to look for any signs of redness or excessive swelling. If you see either, you should call Dr. Smita right away.
This surgery will leave scars, but they will fade with time. Remember to avoid exposing your arms to direct sunlight for the first year after your arm lift. This will prevent excessive discoloration of the scars.
You should avoid vigorous exercise for the first three or four weeks as you heal, but taking a daily walk improves circulation and healing.
Patients with an arm lift may consider having other cosmetic procedures in the same session to save time and expense.
Dr. Smita will do a medical evaluation before scheduling your arm lift procedure to discuss other options you may be considering.
Arm Lift FAQ
If you want an arm lift, you probably have plenty of questions. Below are the most common ones:
Why Do Some Women Get Flabby Arms?
Flabby upper arms happen for many reasons, including genetics and aging. For example, women who gain too much weight are at higher risk of developing sagging upper arms.
Can I Just Have Liposuction On My Upper Arms?
There are some cases where having liposuction alone can eliminate the extra fat in the upper arms. However, if you have loose skin, having liposuction will make it worse.
Dr. Smita will check your anatomy and tell you if liposuction is a good choice for you or if you need an arm lift, too.
Can I Wear Deodorant After An Arm Lift?
You will probably need to wear a compression garment for three or four weeks after surgery. It’s important to avoid strenuous exercise and lifting for about a month after surgery. Also, you shouldn’t wear deodorant for two weeks.
How Long Will My Arm Lift Last?
The surgery itself may take two or three hours, depending on the amount of skin and fat removed.
Arm lift results can last for many years. The fat and skin that are removed won’t come back. However, if you don’t maintain a healthy lifestyle, you can gain weight in the upper arms again.
Also, the aging process will continue, and you could have some sagging skin in the arms in the future.
Can I Move My Arms After An Arm Lift?
Yes, but you shouldn’t do anything other than walking for exercise for the first four to six weeks. And you shouldn’t lift your arms over your head for at least two weeks.
Will My Forearms Hurt After An Arm Lift?
Most of the discomfort will be in the upper arms. Some patients might have pain in the lower arms temporarily if nerves were affected by the surgery. Occasionally, nerves can be trapped in scar tissue and cause pain, which would require revision surgery.
How Long After Arm Lift Surgery Do I Have To Wait To Sleep On My Side?
You should sleep on your back with your arms elevated for the first three weeks. You shouldn’t sleep on your side or back during this time.
How Much Does An Arm Lift Hurt?
During your recovery, you will experience mild to moderate pain for a week or two. Also, there will be swelling and bruising.
It takes about two weeks to recover from the procedure. So if you feel like you have more pain than you should, talk to Dr. Smita right away.
How Safe Is An Arm Lift?
Arm lift surgery is usually considered low risk; minor complications arise in about 25% of cases.
What Is A Mini Arm Lift?
A mini arm lift is another procedure that removes less skin and tissue from the upper arms. Dr. Smita will conduct a medical examination to determine if you need a full or mini arm lift.
How Can I Sleep After An Arm Lift?
After surgery, you should sleep on your back instead of on your side or stomach. It helps to prop your arms on pillows while you sleep. Dr. Smita will tell you how long you should sleep this way.
Does An Arm Lift Leave Scars?
Yes. You will have scars from the armpit to your elbow. They are visible at first but will fade with time. Remember not to expose your arms to direct sunlight for the first 12 months so you don’t have discoloration of the scars.
Can I Tighten My Upper Arms Without An Arm Lift?
Some women have sagging skin in the upper arms that can only be eliminated with surgery. But there are several things you can try to improve the problem:
- Swim every week to tighten the upper arm muscles
- Do pilates and yoga
- Drink plenty of water
- Try chair dips to strengthen and tone the triceps muscles
- Eat a healthy diet and exercise to lose weight
If you try these things and still have sagging upper arms, talk to Dr. Smita about arm lift surgery.
What Should I Wear After An Arm Lift?
Wear loose clothing on your upper body for the first two weeks, so you don’t need to lift your arms over your head. Dr. Smita also may have you wear a compression garment for several weeks to reduce pain and swelling.
How Long Will I Have Drains After My Arm Lift?
Drains may be placed in the upper arms to remove extra fluid. The drains usually are in place for one or two weeks before Dr. Smita removes them. Talk to your plastic surgeon about how to care for the drains and keep them clean.
How Should I Take A Shower After An Arm Lift?
If you shower, you shouldn’t lift your arms over your head to wash your hair; this can loosen the stitches. Instead, you should just cleanse your body and clean carefully around the bandages, and don’t get the incisions in the direct spray of the shower.
Arm lift surgery can make a dramatic difference in the appearance of your upper arms, so talk to Dr. Smita today about this popular procedure.
No matter what you call your droopy skin or “bat wings” under your upper arms, plastic surgeon Dr. Ramanadham calls it as a way to improve your life with cosmetic surgery. This exciting surgery provides both physical and emotional benefits. If you are at your goal weight but still cannot lose the skin and flab that hang off your arms, please contact us to plan a complimentary cosmetic consultation with Dr. Smita Ramanadham to look fitter and younger with brachioplasty.
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