Ageing associated with reduced skin elasticity, significant changes in weight and reduced physical activity all contribute to increasing tissue flaccidity, which can be more evident in some parts of the body such as the arms. This leads to a great ptosis that is often seen by patients as a deformity. An arm lift or brachioplasty is a surgery that removes excess cutaneous, subcutaneous and adipose tissue (dermal-adipose lipectomy), located in the internal part of the arm in order to have a leaner brachial profile. More and more post-bariatric patients – that have experienced significant weight loss in a short time – not enough for the skin to adapt to the new body volume – undergo this surgery to remodel the profile of their arms eliminating all excess skin in the upper limb.
What needs to be done before surgery?
Speaking to the plastic surgeon before surgery helps eliminate doubts and perplexities and to understand exactly how the surgery will be made and all options suitable for one’s case. In order to achieve the best result, all possible variables of the surgery procedure will be taken into account depending on the patient’s characteristics and needs.
How is the surgery performed?
The surgery is done under general anesthesia and lasts about 2 hours. The surgery is subdivided into two steps: the first step is the liposuction of the cutaneous and subcutaneous area to be eliminated and of the nearby areas; the second step foresees the removal of the excess skin followed by the cutaneous sutures in the internal part of the arm. A compressive dressing is applied after the surgery. Hospitalization lasts one day.
What happens after the operation?
The compressive dressing is removed after 48 hours from the surgery. The wound is then medicated and another compression garment is applied. This must be worn for 30 days. Stitches are removed after 15 days; at this point, the wounds can then be washed. Until then do not take a bath or shower. Rest and limited movements are advised in the days following the surgery, especially for the upper limbs. Return to work is after 7-10 days, while return to sport activity is after about 30 days.
Patients normally suffer pain, swelling, reddening and bruises in the treated area during the first few days after the surgery. Post-surgical issues may be kept under control using normal painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs.
There will be only one straight scar along the internal side of the arm, on the longer axis from the armpit to the elbow. This will be evident and red, but after some time it will become a color similar to that of the surrounding skin. The scars are visible when the arms are bare, though not noticeable when the arms are down.
A good outcome of the surgery depends on the patient’s initial clinical conditions, his/her healing capacity and compliance with the doctor’s post-surgery indications, i.e. avoid inappropriate movements and sun exposure until complete healing of the scars.
What are the possible risks?
The complications linked to the surgery are hematomas and bleeding, infections, delayed healing of the surgical wound, poor healing, and change in skin sensitivity.