Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
Arm lifts, or brachioplasty, are becoming increasingly popular plastic surgery procedures for patients with excess upper arm skin and fat. This surgical procedure is performed with multiple scar patterns to remove excess loose arm skin and fat. An arm lift will tighten and shape the upper arm allowing patients to feel more comfortable in short sleeves and even no sleeves. Dr. Trussler has significant experience with brachioplasty surgery and the first step in contouring the arms is discussing your goals of the procedure during a consultation.
What Are My Options?
There different types of arm lift procedures which are designed to address each patients different degree and location of excess upper arm skin and fat. Arm lifts are ideal for healthy, non-smoking male and female patients who have a significant amount of excess, hanging skin in the upper arm area. Patients should be at a stable weight and have a comfortable diet and exercise routine prior to considering any body contouring procedure. Patients who present for brachioplasty surgery are typically frustrated because no matter how many arm curls or push-ups they do the excess skin just won’t go away. The solution is to remove the excess skin and contour the upper arm with liposuction. Dr. Trussler offers multiple techniques for arm lifts (brachioplasty):
Mini Brachioplasty utilizes an incision in the arm pit to remove sagging skin in the very upper arm. This technique can be combined with liposuction to contour the entire upper arm, but is recommended to the patient with only limited upper arm excess skin.
Short Scar Brachioplasty
Short Scar Brachioplasty utilizes an “L” shaped scar close to the arm pit to help shorten the scar length on the upper arm. It is utilized for moderate excess upper arm skin and can be combined with liposuction.
Full Brachioplasty utilizes a linear scar at the bottom of the arm to remove excess skin along the entire upper arm. This procedure tightens and shapes the upper arm from elbow to arm pit.
Extended Brachioplasty (Upper Body Lift)
Extended Brachioplasty (Upper Body Lift) combines a linear scar from the elbow along the bottom of the arm, which is extended along the outer chest to remove excess skin along the entire upper arm and outer chest areas. This procedure tightens and shapes the upper arm from elbow to arm pit, as well lifting outer back and chest rolls. It can be extended along the chest to be combined with a breast lift (mastopexy) in women or chest contouring in men.
Arm lifts can help tighten and contour the upper arm. Patients should be healthy, non-smoking and at a stable weight prior to considering this procedure. The extent, location and condition of the excess arm skin all factor into the decision of scar pattern for a brachioplasty. Liposuction is applied to the upper arm to help shape and contour the back of the arm. Most patients with a significant amount of excess arm skin are amenable to the longer brachioplasty scar. This scar is the most difficult factor to accept when approaching any body contouring procedure. Dr. Trussler will give his honest opinion on the right scar pattern for your individual upper arm contouring procedure and with time and active scar care these scars will fade.
Many patients do inquire about other body contouring procedures at the time of consultation. Brachioplasty is commonly performed in conjunction with chest, breast, abdominal, and/or thigh contouring procedures.
Realistic expectations are important when considering brachioplasty surgery. Dr. Trussler will listen to your goals and factor into the extent and location of excess arm skin to help come up with an arm contouring procedure that is right for you. No matter what incision type of brachioplasty is performed there will be a scar. Scar quality and how the scar heals depends on what is done before, during and after brachioplasty surgery. Choosing the right incision type for your arm and Dr. Trussler’s surgical experience do help with scarring, but good nutrition, smoking cessation, avoidance of sun, limiting activity, and active scar care all help to improve the healing process. Dr. Trussler will provide detailed instructions for your brachioplasty procedure.
Brachioplasty surgery usually takes one to two hours to complete and is done under general anesthesia in the operating room. The areas of skin excision and the incision placement are typically marked during the pre-operative appointment. The procedure is commonly started with liposuction of the upper arm to help thin the fatty deposits of the arm and help release the excess skin. Varying lengths of incisions are used to remove skin depending on the type of brachioplasty performed.
Mini Brachioplasty utilizes an incision in the arm pit and places the scar in the central arm pit fold.
Short Scar Brachioplasty
Short Scar Brachioplasty utilizes an incision in the armpit and extends it onto the upper arm leaving an “L” shaped scar with a soft arc to help limit the scar burden on the upper arm.
Full Brachioplasty utilizes an incision on the lower aspect of the arm to remove skin from the elbow to the arm pit which leaves a linear scar at the bottom of the arm. Ideally this scar is not visible with the arms down to the side or raised to 90 degrees.
Extended Brachioplasty (Upper Body Lift)
Extended Brachioplasty (Upper Body Lift) combines the linear incision from the elbow along the bottom of the arm similar to the full brachioplasty but then extends the incision down along the outer side of the chest to help contour the back and outer chest. The scar is similar to a full brachioplasty but crosses the arm pit and arches down along the outer chest. This can connect with a central breast and chest scar.
All brachioplasty incisions are closed with two to three layers of absorbable sutures. Drain tubes may be used in the upper body lift, but are typically not needed in other brachioplasty procedures. Compression garments are used to help limit bruising and swelling after the procedure. Most patients can go home the same day after this procedure.
After Care & Recovery
After any type of arm lift procedure, patients will likely experience mild soreness and swelling for a few days. The incisions are typically dressed with surgical glue and compressive foam and ACE wraps are used to help limit swelling and bruising in the area. Surgical drains are typically not used in this procedure unless in some cases of upper body lifts.
The arms will be supported in a soft compression garment for about three weeks or until healed. Any stitches will be removed after one or two weeks. Most patients will be able to return to work within a week, although exercise and other strenuous activity should be avoided for about a three weeks. Dr. Trussler will provide you with specific instructions for your individual recovery.
The results of an arm lift are visible immediately after surgery and will continue to improve as swelling subsides and scars fade. The upper arm shape will evolve over a three month period especially in the cases of significant skin and fat removal. Scar treatment will be initiated at the 3 week visit and may be continued for 3 to 6 months after the operation, or until the scar soften and fade.
- Trussler AP, Rohrich RJ. Video+ The Limited Incision Medial Brachioplasty: Refinements in Upper Arm Contouring. Plast. Reconstr Surg. 121(1):305, 2008
Whether you have a question or would like to setup a brachioplasty consultation, Dr. Trussler and his staff are here to help. Please fill out our contact form, or call our office at 512-450-1077 to schedule an appointment. Start your journey to not only looking, but feeling better today!