Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
Upper arm lift surgery (brachioplasty) is used to remove and tighten loose or sagging skin of the upper arm areas, which is commonly caused by weight loss. The fold of hanging skin and fat is sometimes called a “bat wing deformity” and must be dealt with via surgical excision in an outpatient general anesthetic operation. Many patients are hopeful that the excess tissue can be removed via liposuction, but the actual amount of fat present in patients with this problem may be minimal, and liposuction only empties out the skin more. Of course, if you have good skin tone and only experience loss of definition because of modest excess fatty tissue in the upper arms, ultrasonic liposuction may be able to firm, contour, and produce slimmer, more well-defined upper arms for you.
For patients with a mild amount of loose skin, the scar caused by arm lift surgery may be a poor tradeoff for a tighter upper arm. This is because the thinness and healing characteristics of the upper arm area in some individuals leave them with thick, wide, hypertrophic, or cord-like scars that are ugly and visible when any kind of short-sleeve clothing is worn. The scar can be placed as inconspicuously as possible on the inner part of the upper arm so that it is hidden when the arm is at your side, but when the arm is raised, the scar will be visible.
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Many patients with a larger amount of excess upper arm skin refuse to wear clothing that reveals the arm at all, but if a visible scar causes the same hesitancy, this surgery may not be for you. Conversely, if you cannot fit into certain kinds of sleeves or clothing because of the hanging skin and can accept visible and sometimes unsightly upper arm scars, arm lift surgery can give you a slim and shapely upper arm that can fit comfortably in whatever clothing choices you prefer.
While not every patient ends up with a thick or ugly scar, as many as half of patients do develop bad scars despite the plastic surgeon’s skill and diligence in suture technique, and this must be taken into account when considering this operation. Although scar-reducing remedies such as Scar Recovery Gel, Mederma™, ScarGuard™, silicone sheet scar pads, and some laser techniques exist to help improve the appearance of troublesome scars such as these, arm lift scars are indeed permanent, and no surgeon or surgical technique in existence can remove or eliminate them completely.
Brachioplasty takes about one and a half hours per arm in the operating room. Most of the time, we utilize dissolving sutures below the surface of the skin to avoid crosshatch or “railroad track” scars. Arm lift surgery can be performed as an outpatient operation at our nationally-accredited (AAAASF) Minneapolis, Minnesota surgical center. After surgery, patients are fitted with a snug upper body garment that provides gentle compression to assist in re-absorption of any surgical swelling. A surgical drain may be placed beneath each incision to reduce the accumulation of fluid under the skin flaps and assist in healing; each one is usually removed in several days when drainage is less than an ounce per 24 hours. Gentle arm movement is encouraged immediately; exercise and lifting can be resumed in two to three weeks.
Complications are rare and minimal, but scarring can take months to mature and may be more visible than anticipated. Proper scar placement can limit visibility when the arms are at your side; however, scars are visible when the arms are raised. Still, for those individuals with the desire and willingness to accept the scars in order to achieve a sleeker and more defined upper arm shape, arm lift (brachioplasty) is the only procedure of choice. Energy-based options cannot tighten the skin smoothly like brachioplasty can, since none of these options actually remove the loose, hanging skin.
Costs for brachioplasty depend somewhat on the amount of excess skin to be removed, and the extent of skin tightening and incision closure. Total costs, including professional fee, anesthesia, operating room, and post-operative care are around $12000. Exact costs are always given at the time of complimentary consultation with our ABPS-certified plastic surgeons, who will personally assess your anatomy, goals, and needs. Financing options are available. Please contact us for a no-obligation consultation and more information.
Because of the high demand for free consultations with our plastic surgeons, our staff will ask for a credit card number in order to schedule a consultation; there is no charge whatsoever for appointments that are kept–you will be charged $100 only if you fail to keep a scheduled appointment, or fail to cancel at least 48 hours in advance of your appointment time–for Monday appointments, you must cancel no later than noon on the previous Thursday; for Tuesday appointments, you must cancel no later than noon on the previous Friday.