What is a brachioplasty?
This procedure improves arm contour by eliminating sagging upper arm skin that can form following weight fluctuations, massive weight loss, or simply because of the effects of gravity and time. The scar is hidden on the inside part of the arm, and its length can be adjusted based on patient contour goals.
A brachioplasty may be combined with several other procedures following massive weight loss:
- Lower body lift. After weight loss, patients interested in sculpting their arms may also wish to sculpt the abdomen, flanks, buttocks, lower back and outer thighs with a lower body lift. An incision is extended like a belt around the lower abdomen, sides and back to help address loose skin in all of these regions. This procedure can dramatically improve the contour of the waistline after massive weight loss.
- Breast lift (mastopexy). Patients with excess breast skin and downward-pointing nipples may wish to consider a breast lift or mastopexy to raise the breast tissue and nipples to a more youthful position. This is particularly common in individuals who have undergone massive weight loss.
- StratticeTM-assisted breast augmentation and breast lift (augmentation mastopexy). Some patients may benefit from additional breast volume, tightening of the breast skin, and repositioning of the nipples to a more youthful position. This may be best achieved with both a breast lift and a breast augmentation at the same time – the so-called augmentation mastopexy. Unfortunately, the breast skin quality is often poor following massive weight loss, making it less likely to support the weight of a breast implant. To prevent the breast implants from dropping down too far, or “bottoming out,” a material known as acellular dermal matrix or StratticeTM is placed as an internal hammock to support the implant and reduce the chances of bottoming out. Strattice can also be used to correct post-surgical bottoming out and some other breast deformities if these have already occurred.
- Male breast reduction (for gynecomastia). Male breasts can also develop loose, droopy skin after weight loss. This form of gynecomastia is usually treated with a combination of excess skin removal and Vaser ultrasound-assisted liposuction.
- Buttock augmentation. The lower body lift may flatten the appearance of the buttocks. To correct this, buttock augmentation – typically performed with fat grafting – can be an option for patients.
Anesthesia: A brachioplasty (arm lift) is usually performed with the patient under general anesthesia.
Length of procedure: 90 minutes to 2 hours.
Estimated recovery time: You can return to work after 2 to 4 weeks and should avoid vigorous activities for at least 4 weeks. Visible bruising should clear up within 2 weeks, and swelling begins to resolve within 3 weeks. To avoid arm swelling, we typically recommend that you wear compressive wraps on your arms for several weeks after surgery. To learn how to prepare for a brachioplasty and what to expect afterwards, click here to download our patient instructions.
Side effects: Common side effects include bruising, swelling, some inner arm numbess, possibly elbow numbess, and a few spitting sutures. Scars from brachioplasty are variable but they have a greater tendency to widen or develop redness compared with other cosmetic surgery scars. Drain tubes lasting 5 to 10 days are placed. An injectable blood thinner called Lovenox® may be used for 5 to 10 days after surgery to prevent blood clots. On occasion, delays in wound healing may occur. Click here to download a detailed consent form from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons that lists the risks and benefits of a brachioplasty (arm lift).
Before-and-after photos: Click here to view photos of arm and thigh lifts.