An arm lift, also known as Brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure performed to remove excess fat and skin from the upper arms for a more toned, slimmer appearance. Over time, the soft tissue in the upper arm becomes lax and may begin to droop and sag, resulting in arms that appear loose and hanging. Many people are embarrassed by the appearance of sagging upper arms, and seek treatment to restore a slimmer, more youthful appearance.

The arm lift procedure is ideal for patients who have a significant amount of excess, hanging skin or fat in the upper arm area, maintain a stable weight, and have realistic expectations for surgery. It is also important that patients are healthy overall, with no major medical conditions that may be affected by surgery.

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What are the benefits of an arm lift?

There are a few reasons some people develop looser upper arms than others. If you’ve gained and then lost a good deal of weight, this has likely stretched the arm skin. This area is notorious for not being able to tighten back down after the skin has been stretched. Some people can blame genetics; they are prone to the skin and muscle loosening more than others. 

While loose skin hanging below your upper arms may not be a big deal if you live in the Yukon, in sunny Naples, where we are constantly in sleeveless blouses or sundresses, it’s a problem. No one wants to wear something that shows off their loose, flappy upper arms. Colloquially known as “bat wings,” the problem can make you only wear clothes that keep your arms covered. Bathing suits? No thanks. Sleeveless tennis dresses? Nope. 

An arm lift can change this. When Dr. Turk tightens your stretched skin and loosened muscles in your upper arm, this gives you back arms that are ready for all to see. It’s important that you are at or near your ideal weight before you have an arm lift, but if you are and if you stay there, this can be a very rewarding procedure.

The Brachioplasty Procedure

During the arm lift procedure, an incision is made along the inside of the upper arm, often spanning from the underarm to the elbow. Dr. Turk will then remove excess fat using liposuction, before trimming and tightening the excess skin and suturing it into place. For patients with only a small amount of excess skin, a minimal incision arm lift procedure may be performed, in which a few small incisions are made near the underarm area for less invasive fat and tissue removal. Dr. Turk will determine which procedure is best for you after a physical exam and discussion of each patient’s individual goals for surgery.

Once the fat is removed and the skin is tightened, the incision will be closed with sutures that will be absorbed by the body within a week or two. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia with sedation and usually takes one to three hours, depending on the extent of removal required. Patients will be able to return home the same day as surgery.

Arm lift before and after

before and after image set of a woman that received an arm lift

Brachioplasty Recovery Overview

After an arm lift procedure, patients will likely experience swelling and bruising, as well as mild discomfort that can be managed with pain medication prescribed by Dr. Turk. Drainage tubes may be placed at the incision site to collect any excess blood or fluid for the first few days after surgery. Compression bandages may be worn as well to help promote proper healing.

The results of an arm lift are visible right away but will continue to improve as swelling and bruising subsides, which usually takes two weeks. Most patients are highly satisfied with the results of their arm lift procedure and are more than willing to sacrifice a scar for thin, youthful-looking arms. Scars will continue to fade over time to become less and less noticeable.

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How long does it take for my arms to heal after an arm lift?

Patients can usually return to work in just a week or two. Obviously, this varies with the individual patient. If your work involves lifting, you’ll have to have others do that for you. For the first week, you should limit activity to just walking. As you would assume, you need to avoid just about all lifting for the first two weeks and be cautious for the next two after that. 

How long before I can drive after an arm lift?

It will be about 10 days before you can drive, but you may need two weeks. This may seem like a lot of time, but you need to consider the quick arm movements that may be required to avoid a collision and the like when driving. Sure, you may not need to do any of these, but how can you be sure? This isn’t something to rush. 

When can I return to working out after an arm lift?

For the first month, you need to avoid any exercises that directly stress the area and engage your upper arm muscles. This involves all weight lifting with the arms. After one month you can start the cardiovascular activity, such as riding a stationary bike or brisk walking. You still need to wait on lifting or sports that engage your arms (such as tennis), however, for another two weeks. At six weeks you should be able to return to your normal exercise routines. Dr. Turk will discuss timelines for exercise and other normal activities during your follow-up. 

Will the results of my arm lift be permanent?

The changes made by Dr. Turk are permanent. The excess skin he removes is gone for good, as are the unwanted pockets of fat. Loose muscles that are tightened will remain so. 

Of course, you will continue to age, and aging means our tissues slacken. But your arms will never sag and become loose again to the degree that predicated you’re having this surgery. As long as you maintain a healthy weight, your slimmer, contoured arms will be there for all to see for decades. 

Do I have to sleep in a specific way after an arm lift?

For the first week, Dr. Turk recommends that you sleep on your back in a propped-up position. A recliner is good, or you can arrange pillows so that you can’t rollover. You can place your arms on a pillow on each side. After that, you can sleep on your side or stomach when you feel comfortable. 

The Brachioplasty Risks

While an arm lift is considered a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with any type of surgery. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Loss of Sensation
  • Scarring
  • Permanent Swelling

What should I expect during my arm lift consultation?

For all of his consultations, Dr. Turk seeks to create a free-flowing back and forth with the patient. He encourages any and all questions. You’ll start the consultation. You’ll describe what you don’t like about your upper arms, along with the changes you’d like to see made through this surgery. You’ll detail the results you think can be attained. 

Then it’s Dr. Turk’s turn. He will examine your arms to get a good idea of the extent of the sagging in your skin and in the underlying musculature. This information will help him decide just how long your incision will need to be. For some patients with less sagging, a shorter incision near the underarm could be sufficient. But in most cases, a longer incision is necessary. 

Dr. Turk will then walk you through the surgery. He’ll likely include some before and after images to help you get an idea of what you can expect. He’ll discuss your recovery and the risks involved with an arm lift. 

When your consultation is complete, whether you choose to go ahead with the surgery or not, you will be well-versed in this procedure. 

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If you’re interested in learning more about arm lifts please contact us for a consultation at 239.348.4357 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.

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