As one ages, or as one loses a significant amount of weight, excess hanging tissue may become evident in the upper arms. Commonly, this tissue problem is referred to as “bat wings,” and can be surgically corrected. Brachioplasty, also known as an upper arm lift, removes excess fat and skin to give the arms a sleeker, more toned appearance. This is an outpatient procedure, which is done under general anesthesia.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Brachioplasty involves surgery and like all surgeries it will leave a scar. In essence, the patient is trading an often significant change in body shape for a surgical scar. Because the surgery is performed on the arms, the scar can be visible especially with short sleeved garments. As plastic and reconstructive surgeons, we prefer to conceal scars, but this particular surgery renders camouflaging of the scar rather difficult. Plastic and reconstructive surgeons are trained to place the surgical scar in the least conspicuous place. Our surgeons are trained in surgical techniques to maximize optimal healing and minimize bad scarring.
Typically, the incision runs from the elbow to the axilla (underarm). Occasionally, the incision can start in the forearm, and sometimes the incision can extend down the thoracic (chest) sidewall. The extent of the incision really depends on the deformity. One’s plastic and reconstructive surgeon will define the skin deformity and will describe the type of incision required to remove the excess tissue. When the surgeon operates, the skin is removed in an ellipse or triangle, with the base in the axilla. Some fat will remain to protect the nerves and blood vessels. Often times, liposuction is done in tandem to give the arm a smoother and slimmer result. Dissolvable and possibly external sutures will close the incision site.
What to Expect During the Recovery Period
Post-operatively, swelling and bruising will occur, and can take up to six weeks to dissipate. Compression garments are placed on the arms to help reduce the swelling and promote an aesthetic contour. The upper arms may feel tight after surgery and this is normal since the surgery tightens the skin envelope of the arm. Numbness on the inside of the arm is common immediately after surgery; but, this numbness tends to resolve over a short period of time. Sites of permanent numbness on the inside of the arm may occur. Numbness in the hands or pale color in the hands or decreased function of the hands immediately after surgery is not normal; and, if present, warrants an examination by one’s surgeon.
In order to optimize healing and minimize scarring, the patient may want to consider purchasing silicone sheets that can be placed on the scar line, starting two weeks after surgery. These sheets are re-usable and can be purchased over the Internet. Other over-the-counter products do exist, and one can discuss these products with his/her surgeon.
At least two drains will be placed to collect excess fluid from the wound to lower the risk of infection. Drain logs will be provided to keep a record of the output of fluid. Drains will be removed when the output meets the doctor’s specifications–typically two to seven days after the surgery.
The external sutures, if used, will be removed within two weeks. Restrictions over the next six weeks may include but are not limited to: heavy lifting, pulling, or pushing. The compression garment should be worn for a minimum of four weeks; however, six weeks is optimal.
The use of a bath tus, Jacuzzi, or anything that allows the body to submerge is not allowed, until clearance from the physician has been provided (usually 3-4 weeks after the surgery). Showering is allowed 48 hours after surgery. It is important to pat the operative areas dry and replace the dressings after showering.
If you have questions regarding Scottsdale brachioplasty, Phoenix brachioplasty or Phoenix plastic surgery, please contact one of our licensed providers at North Valley Plastic Surgery Scottsdale Phoenix (480) 991-6877.