If you are unhappy with how your arms look, you are not alone. When you lose a significant amount of weight, it’s normal to have excess skin. Unfortunately, your arms are one of the areas that can be significantly affected by weight changes. Your skin can stretch during pregnancy, weight gain, or natural growth. Skin can then struggle to shrink back. This can result in excess and sagging skin. Arm lift surgery can remove excess skin and leave your arms tight and smooth. Let’s break down everything you need to know about an arm lift.
What Exactly is an Arm Lift?
Ageing, changes in weight and genetics can all cause the upper arms to have a sagging or drooping appearance. Although you can improve the appearance of the upper arms and build a more defined look, most of the time, exercise and diet alone aren’t enough to change the look of excess sagging skin.
An arm lift is also known as an arm reduction or brachioplasty. The body-contouring surgery can banish ‘bingo wings’ and create shapelier arms. During the treatment, your surgeon will lift and tighten the upper arms to create a more contoured shape by removing extra skin and tissue.
The surgery is also done on people who’ve undergone weight loss surgery and have been left with excess sagging skin. Whether you have excess skin after weight loss, drooping skin from ageing or excess fat deposits, an arm lift can smooth, tighten, and define your arms. Before opting for an arm lift, there are some things you have to keep in mind.
- The surgery will leave a scar on the inside of your upper arm that runs from the elbow to the armpit. While the arm lift scars fade over time, the scar will always be visible.
- If you are a smoker, it leaves you at an increased risk of developing complications. If you are to undergo surgery, reduce smoking or quit altogether.
During the surgery, the plastic surgeon will remove areas of extra tissue under the upper arm. The surgeon will make an incision on the back or inside of your arms, where he will remove the extra folds of skin and excess fat before closing the incision.
What Happens During Arm Lift Surgery?
The surgery takes up to two hours. Your surgeon will make an incision between the elbow and armpit and remove excess skin and fat. The final stage involves tightening the skin and smoothing over the arm. The surgeon will then close the incisions and apply a sterile dressing. If more fat needs to be removed, your surgeon may recommend liposuction. You can see before and after arm liposuction in the image below.
Your scars will vary depending on the amount of skin and excess tissue removed. There are different techniques for arm lift surgery:
- Standard – this technique uses two incisions and is suitable for someone with a fair amount of excess skin and fat.
- Limited-incision – this works best if you have loose skin in the lower inner arm but not too much fat.
- Extended – this technique is similar to the standard technique but can include the area along the side of the chest.
What are the Benefits of Arm Lift Surgery?
If you are at your target weight but left with excess underarm skin, it can really affect your confidence. Sometimes it feels like no matter what you do or eat, you can’t seem to improve the contours of your arms. Benefits of an arm lift include:
- Tighter arms
- No more bingo wings
- Wear sleeveless clothes with confidence
- Improve self-esteem
How Long Does It Take to Recover?
You will feel sore following your surgery and may need a few weeks to recover fully and properly heal. Your surgeon might require you to wear a compression garment to reduce the swelling. You may also leave the hospital with temporary drainage in your arm to drain excess fluid and blood that will likely build up after the surgery. The doctor will give you some post-operative instructions that you need to follow to quicken your recovery.
Start walking as soon as possible after your surgery but avoid strenuous movement. Don’t drive in the first 24 hours. Most people don’t drive until 10 days after surgery. You can return to work in a week if you work a desk job or something with minimal movement. You may need a couple more weeks to recover for jobs requiring much more movement.
In about one to two weeks, you should be able to use your arms for household activities such as cooking and cleaning. Avoid physical activity and exercise until six to eight weeks after the procedure.
When Will You See the Results of An Arm Lift?
Results following an arm lift surgery are almost immediate. Your arms will have some swelling and bruising, but you can see the full results as they subside. Depending on how much tissue and skin need removal, you may require two surgeries to see the results. If the results are not as expected once the dressing is removed and swelling has gone down, your doctor may recommend another surgery.
For most people, one surgery is usually enough, especially when done by a qualified plastic surgeon. The results of brachioplasty are usually permanent. However, unhealthy habits leading to weight gain could see your skin sag again. Your skin may sag a little with age, but the surgery results will mostly stay the same. You will also have an arm lift scar on the inside of your arm, but this will fade over time.
What are the Potential Risks, Side Effects, and Complications of an Arm Lift?
Like all cosmetic surgeries, some potential risks and complications can occur. With most surgeries, there are risks, such as:
- blood clots
- Unfavourable scarring
Potential complications specific to an arm lift are:
You don’t have to settle with excess arm skin and fat. If you struggle to improve your underarm appearance, an arm lift may be just what you need. The key to a successful arm lift surgery is choosing the right surgeon. Most people request before and after arm lift photos before settling on the surgeon. It’s your right as you deserve to know that you are putting your health in the hands of a doctor who knows what they are doing and has done the procedure before.