Arm lift surgery, also known as brachioplasty, involves the surgical removal of unsightly excess tissue on the upper arms. This is almost always a purely cosmetic procedure, designed to enhance the look and feel of the skin and structure of the upper arm area.
Brachioplasty can be performed on men and women, although the demand tends to be greater amongst women. The most common reason for the operation is a period of rapid weight loss, either due to crash dieting or the use of a gastric band, where the body has shed fat faster than the skin can cope with. Where weight loss is slow and gradual, the skin can usually accommodate the body’s reduction in size by contracting slowly, but very rapid weight loss can leave the dieter with unsightly saggy folds of skin. Where loose skin appears on the upper arms it is often referred to as ‘bingo wings’ or ‘bat wings’.
Another reason for seeking brachioplasty is as the result of ageing. Older skin is less elastic than young skin, and over time the upper arm area can become noticeably saggy. Many older women in particular try to avoid exposing the upper arm area for this reason, as they become self-conscious about the appearance of the skin on their arms.
Brachioplasty involves making an incision from the armpit to the elbow and removing the excess skin. The operation is conducted under general anaesthetic, in a procedure which lasts around two hours. Many patients opt to combine their brachioplasty with liposuction, where excess fat cells are removed at the same time, but this is not essential and is entirely dependent upon the reasons for seeking the procedure.
As with all surgeries requiring a general anaesthetic, the surgeon will want to ensure that the patient’s overall health is good before embarking on the surgery. Your surgeon will require detailed information about any underlying medical conditions and treatments which could affect the outcome of surgery. He or she will want to know whether or not your weight is stable, whether you smoke or drink, and will want to know details of any exercise regimes that you follow. Make a note of any medications that you are currently taking, and be prepared to make some adjustments to your lifestyle before and after your surgery. For example, you may be required to stop smoking prior to your operation, and your surgeon may ask you to commit to an exercise program.
Following your surgery you can expect to be left with fairly extensive scarring on the underside of your arms, although this will fade over time. After around twelve months or so, you should find that the scars have faded to a faint silvery line, which will be much less noticeable than the former excess skin. However, the length of the scars means that brachioplasty is only suitable for people with a considerable amount of excess skin to remove – for smaller areas, liposuction could be a more suitable treatment.