An upper arm lift or brachioplasty is the surgical procedure to reduce excess skin and fat from the upper arms, often unkindly referred to as “bingo wings”. The excess fat and skin can be due to ageing, changes in weight, smoking and genetics. Patients with sagging skin on their arms are often troubled by skin irritation and find it difficult to find clothes that fit. Exercise can help to tone the underlying muscles, but will not help to remove the excess skin that has lost its elasticity and the localized fat deposits. Arm lift surgery can help these patients to restore the contour to their arms as well as dramatically improving their self-confidence.
Am I a good candidate for arm lift surgery?
The ideal candidate for arm lift surgery is someone who has excess sagging skin on their upper arms extending to the elbow region. They should be non-smokers (as smokers have a significant increase in wound complication rate) and have been at a stable weight for over 6 months.
What will the scars look like?
For most patients, there will be a horizontal scar in the armpit and a longitudinal scar down the inner part of the arm. The length of this scar will be determined by the amount of skin that needs to be removed. Mr Huq will explain in detail what the scars will look like so that you are fully informed before your procedure. In some cases liposuction is also required to improve the overall arm contour.
What will the recover be after arm lift surgery?
The surgery is carried out under a general anaestheic and takes around 2 hours. Mr Huq may place a small drain in your arm and this usually comes out the day after surgery. You will be asked to wear a pressure garment on your arms to reduce any swelling. This will need to be worn for up to 6 weeks post surgery. You should aim to rest for the first week and then only do light activities from the second week onwards. You are not to exercise until 6 weeks after your operation.
What are the risks of arm lift surgery?
All types of surgery carry the risks. These include bleeding and infection, both of which are unlikely to happen. Other risks include:
Poor scarring – Some patients will heal with lumpy or stretched scars. These may require treatment in the form of steroids or scar revision surgery.
Visible scars - The scar on the inner arm will be visible and may cause cosmetic embarrassment. Mr Huq will explain to you that you should not have this type of surgery if you will be distressed by a visible scar. However, despite the possibility of problematic scars, the majority of patients are happy with the results after surgery.
Under Correction – Although the surgery is done in a meticulous fashion there may be instances where an inadequate amount of tissue has been removed. In these cases further surgery may be required to achieve the desired cosmetic result.
Numbness/altered sensation - This type of surgery can affect the superficial sensory nerves and result in temporary numbness in the upper arm. In most cases this improves over the next few weeks.