Many people feel self conscious about the shape of their arms. With age, the skin on the arm can begin to droop. This can leave an unattractive contour when the arms are raised or when they rest along the sides of the body. In other cases, excess skin can develop after great weight loss. An arm lift restructures the skin and tissue so that the arms regain tautness, thereby boosting self esteem and giving patients the confidence to show off their arms.
What is an Arm Lift?
Despite hours of working out, loose skin cannot be tightened through one’s own efforts. Because of this, the upper arm may have an undesirable contour. Excess skin can bulge or droop between the armpit to the elbow. This can develop due to age, as skin loses elasticity, or after significant weight loss. This part of the body is especially hard to define despite the presence of strength or underlying muscle tone.
An arm lift, also known as brachioplasty, is a procedure that lifts and tightens the skin of the upper arm to create a more trim and contoured arm shape.
By making an incision underneath the arm, running from the armpit to the elbow, the surgeon can reposition muscles and ligaments, removing excess fat when necessary, and excise lax skin that gives the arm its sagging appearance. The positioning of the incision leaves the patients with a seldom noticeable scar that continues to fade over time and the confidence to show off their arms in sleeveless tops.
Benefits of an Arm Lift
Many people opt for arm lift surgery in Maryland and Virginia to correct the drooping or sagging appearance of their upper arms. Here are just a few of the many benefits they see after getting an arm lift.
- Removal of loose skin that will not respond to diet or exercise
- Inconspicuous scarring that fades over time
- Eradication of fat pockets in the arms
- Gain self-confidence to wear sleeveless tops or try new activities
- Arms that match the appearance of a patient’s new body after weight loss
Before & After Photos
If a patient has tried toning their arms through regular exercise, but are still unhappy with their arm definition and appearance due to the presence of sagging skin, an arm lift may be a good option to consider. Candidates for an arm lift should be in good health and have the ability to heal properly. They should also be at a stable body weight and have good elasticity in their skin. Those who suffer from localized fat deposits in the upper arm may be better suited for arm liposuction, but the two procedures are often performed together.
Ultimately, the only way to find out if an arm lift is the right procedure for a given case is by meeting with one of our board certified plastic surgeons. Call our Bethesda, Maryland or McLean, Virginia office to request an arm lift consultation today.
Arm Lift Techniques
Depending on the severity of a patient’s condition and what they hope to achieve, Dr. Richards, Dr. Jabs, or Dr. Magge will utilize one of three arm lift techniques. The main differences between the techniques are the size of the incisions and “problem areas” that can be addressed.
The traditional arm lift utilizes an incision running from the armpit to the elbow. The incision will be made so that it is hidden from as many angles as possible. Then, tissue is removed or repositioned, and excess fat can be suctioned via liposuction if necessary. The skin is then redraped to remove excess skin, giving taut and trim appearance. This is the most commonly performed arm lift procedure, although it is by no means “one size fits all.”
A mini arm lift will not offer the comprehensive results of a traditional arm lift, but is a very good option for candidates with a minimal amount of sagging skin. In this procedure, a smaller incision is made along the base of the arm near the armpit. Through the smaller incision, excess skin is removed, fat is sometimes removed as well, and then the incision is closed and sutured. This leaves more inconspicuous scars than in a traditional arm lift.
An extended arm lift uses the same incision as the traditional arm lift, but the incision continues along the armpit and ends just below it. The incision is shaped somewhat like the letter L, which is why it can also be referred to as L-shaped brachioplasty. This extended incision allows the surgeon to also remove fat and excess skin from the underarm and the sides of the chest, adding more shape and definition in this area. This procedure is generally reserved for those who have gone through extreme weight fluctuations, but offers the most comprehensive results.
Preparation and Procedure
Prior to the the operation, patients will be asked to stop smoking or taking anti-inflammatory medications that could potentially increase bleeding. On the day of their appointment, patients should bring a shirt that can be put on without lifting their arms and make arrangements for a ride home after the procedure.
The procedure itself is straightforward. The anesthesiologist will administer a general anesthetic to maximize comfort throughout the procedure. Sometimes the procedure can be performed with local anesthetic and sedation. Then, the surgeon will make the appropriate incisions following the predetermined technique pattern. Loose skin is removed and excess fat can be suctioned with liposuction if necessary. In some cases, they may also reposition tissue within the arms for defined results. Then, the skin will be redraped and the incisions are sutured. The patient will then be taken to the recovery room where they will be attended to by our highly attentive staff before heading home. The procedure typically takes about two hours if not performed with other body contouring procedures.
Arm Lift vs Arm Liposuction
Liposuction on the arms can sometimes be considered as an alternative to to an arm lift, especially with the use of SmartLipo technology which can use laser liposuction to stimulate skin contraction. Liposuction would be a better option for candidates who have localized fat deposits in their arms that are not responding to diet and exercise. However, liposuction may not be sufficient for candidates with moderate to poor skin elasticity. An arm lift and liposuction can be performed together to achieve optimal results if both lax skin and fat deposits are a concern.
Neither procedure is superior to the other, as it depends completely on the current state of the patient’s arms and the look they hope to achieve. The appropriate procedure plan will be outlined at the time of the consultation.
Arm Lift Recovery
We request that patients return for follow-up appointments after the procedure. This is to ensure that everything is healing as expected and to remove any non-dissolvable sutures, if necessary.
Prior to surgery, patients will be provided with detailed information about the recovery plan for their specific case. In general, the patient will be equipped with a compression garment that should be worn for the prescribed amount of time. The compression garment will decrease swelling and help ensure that the operated areas settle in the desired contour long after the procedure. It will also aid in reducing bruising and promoting good blood flow.
There may be some discomfort in the days following surgery. Patients will be provided with a prescription medication that they should fill in advance of the operation. However, any discomfort should reduce greatly over the course of first week. After this time, an over-the-counter medication like Tylenol will be sufficient. Patients are free to return to their normal routines in one to two weeks. However, they should avoid heavy lifting until the recommended time; this is generally in a month.
During the patient’s consultation, Dr. Richards, Dr. Jabs, or Dr. Magge will ask about the patient’s concerns and what they hope to achieve from brachioplasty. The surgeon will conduct an examination to determine whether or not brachioplasty would be a good choice given their case. In some instances, the surgeon may recommend an alternate or additional procedure to achieve the best results.
At the time of the consultation, the surgeon and skilled staff will work with the patient to develop a detailed plan for their treatment. This will include how to prepare for the surgery, what to expect during the procedure, and how to ensure recovery is as seamless as possible. We also work with the patient to make sure they have a reliable diet and exercise regimen so that their results last as long as possible. At Cosmetic Surgery Associates, we pride ourselves on the attentive and welcoming nature of our surgeons, staff, and facilities. Please feel free to ask any and all questions.
Average cost: $4,000-$6,000
The cost of your arm lift procedure will depend on your specific case and if you opt to receive additional treatments or procedures. Please feel free to schedule a private consultation to receive a quote.