Plastic Surgeons of Alaska
Alaska Regional Hospital
2741 Debarr Road #215
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 563-2002
Fax: (907) 562-7628
Monday–Friday: 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
For men and women who have lost a lot of weight, they may experience sagging and stretched skin in their upper arms. No amount of weight lifting and exercise can remove these pockets of fat and sagging skin, so an arm lift may be necessary. At our Anchorage plastic surgery practice, our board-certified plastic surgeons perform arm lift surgery, or brachioplasty, to remove excess skin and fat from the upper arms.
How Is an Arm Lift Performed?
An incision is made in the inner portion of the arm and the excess skin and fat are removed. The skin is then closed with sutures that will be removed in about one week.
The operation takes 1– 1.5 hours and requires general anesthesia. It can be performed as day surgery. A drain (small rubber tube) may be placed to limit the amount of fluid collection or swelling post-operatively. This is usually removed within the first week.
At the end of the procedure, you will be wrapped in a compression wrap. This compression is very important to achieve the best result. The creation of a space by the removal of fat leaves the potential for blood or serum to collect. This may lead to scar formation, ridges, wavy appearance and ultimately, an unsatisfactory result. This supportive wrap will need to be worn day and night to keep constant pressure on the treated areas. You may not remove it to shower. This will be removed in several days. Activity should also be limited to normal, light duty at work, normal chores and limited arm motion. You should not return to full activity or exercise for 4 weeks.
Although you will see some change upon removal of the wrap for the first time, the final contour may not be seen for several months due to swelling and bruising. The swelling and bruising may be quite pronounced and may extend beyond the treated areas. This will subside over 3-5 weeks.
The recovery time is usually 3-4 weeks, depending on the amount of tissue and skin removed.
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What Are the Risks of Arm Lift Surgery?
In any operation there are risks to be considered. These include bleeding, infection, numbness, pain or discomfort, widening of the scars, thick or ugly scars, areas of fullness or asymmetry, reactions to the medications or anesthetics, removal of too much or too little fat and /or failure to achieve your desired appearance. Numbness of the treated area may exist after the operation and may last several months cases it may be permanent. Weakness in the arm or hand may result from nerve damage. Irregular contour, wrinkling of the skin, lumpiness, areas of depression (dents) or residual fullness may result. Discoloration of the skin from the bruising will usually fade but permanent discoloration may result.
Efforts will be made to reduce the risks of this operation. You must help by following all preoperative and postoperative instructions and by keeping all scheduled appointments. You must report any changes in your condition to the office so that treatment may be altered if necessary. If you smoke, your healing will be delayed and you increase the risk of a complication following your surgery. Any potential problems could result in the need for additional surgery and recovery time, time lost from work, possible hospitalization, financial loss, disappointment and/or psychological stress to you.
Possible complications associated with anesthesia will be reviewed by the anesthesiologist prior to the procedure. These complications include allergic reactions to the anesthetic, sore throat, nausea/vomiting, pneumonia and possible pain at the site of administration of the anesthetic. In addition, the possible formation of blood clots in the legs is possible with anesthesia and the post-operative period of relative immobility. These clots may break loose and travel to the lungs causing illness and rarely, death. This complication is rare but may be severe.
Please take time to consider this operation carefully and to ask any questions you may have regarding the procedure, risk or healing.