Brachioplasty or ‘arm lift’ is performed to reshape the underside of the upper arm from the armpit to the elbow.
It is usually done after weight loss or to correct the effects of aging.
How is it done?
Brachioplasty is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and may take up to three hours. Generally speaking, the operation involves:
- The surgeon makes a cut on the inner surface of your upper arm from the armpit to the elbow. (Occasionally, the cut is made on the back of the arm.)
- Extra fat is removed with liposuction, which involves the insertion of a thin tube (cannula) into the fat deposit. The fat is vacuumed out with a suction pump or large syringe.
- Underlying muscle is tightened with stitches to smooth and define the shape of the upper arm.
- The extra skin is cut away.
- The cuts are closed with stitches.
Why is it done?
Upper arm skin tends to droop with age and after significant weight loss or for a person suffering lymphedema. Exercise may strengthen and improve the underlying muscle tone of the upper arm, but it cannot change any extra skin that has lost its elasticity.
Brachioplasty, reshapes the underside of the upper arm from the armpit to the elbow. The surgery removes extra skin and fat to give a more toned and balanced appearance.
What should I do before?
Prepare a “recovery area” in your home. This may include pillows, ice packs, a thermometer and a telephone within easy reach. Make sure you arrange for a relative or friend to drive you to and from the hospital or clinic. Someone should also stay with you for at least 24 hours after you return home. It is very important that your recovery area is clean and ideally pet-free, to minimise the chances of infection.
For the best results and minimal complications, you are strongly advised to stop smoking, at least for 6 weeks before and 6 weeks after your surgery.
Your surgeon will give detailed preoperative instructions. Follow them carefully. You may chose to take advantage of our natural therapies to maximise the benefits of your treatment.
You will also be asked to provide a complete medical history for your surgeon including any health problems you have had, any medication you are taking or have taken, and any allergies you may have. Your surgeon will also advise you if any other tests are required, such as blood tests, X-ray examinations or ECGs.
You may be advised to stop taking certain medicines such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), aspirin, and medicines that contain aspirin. You may also be asked to stop taking naturopathic substances such as garlic, ginko, ginseng and St John’s Wort as they may affect clotting and anaesthesia. Always tell your surgeon EVERYTHING you are taking.
You may be given medicines to take before the surgery, such as natural therapies.
What should I expect after?
After the operation, you may expect:
- a drainage tube in the wound to help prevent fluid build-up
- bruising and swelling
- possible numbness
- pain and discomfort
- dressings or bandages on your upper arms
- compression garments to help keep swelling down
Having a brachioplasty will not stop your upper arms from sagging again if you gain and lose a large amount of weight in the future.
What are possible complications?
All surgery carries some degree of risk. Some of the possible complications of brachioplasty include:
- risks of anaesthesia, including allergic reaction, which (rarely) may be fatal
- surgical risks, such as bleeding or infection
- blood clots that may cause potentially fatal cardiovascular complications, such as heart attack, deep vein thrombosis or stroke
- collapsed lung
- fluid build-up under the wound
- tissue death along the wound, or skin loss
- sensory nerve damage, which may cause prolonged or permanent numbness in the upper arm or even in the forearm
- prolonged swelling
- damage to underlying tissues such as muscles
- asymmetry (unevenness) of the skin
- unsightly, inflamed or itchy scarring
- further surgery to treat complications.
This is not a complete list. For example, your medical history or lifestyle may put you at increased risk of certain complications. You need to speak to your surgeon for more information.
How much will it cost?
The cost depends on the anaesthetic fee, private hospital fee, private operating facility fee, extent of surgery required, whether liposuction is required, whether this procedure is carried out at the same time as other procedures, and many other factors. The only accurate way to give you a reasonable estimate is to assess your needs when you visit us.
How much time off work will I need?
Most people require two weeks of time off work. We strongly recommend no strenuous exercise for 6 weeks after surgery.
If your work is very strenuous, you may choose to return to modified duties for a few weeks to aid in your recovery.