Do you have jiggly, wiggly or flabby upper arms? If you do, you know how embarrassing it can be, especially when you’re exercising, waving your arms, or wearing a sleeveless shirt. Perhaps you’ve looked in the mirror and wished you could get rid of your “batwing” arms. Unfortunately, there’s no exercise you can do to make them go away. Exercise can certainly help build better muscle tone in your arms, but it’s not going to eliminate the extra skin and tissue no matter how much you work out.
So what’s the answer? If you live in the Atlanta area, Dr. Mark Deutsch performs a plastic surgery procedure called brachioplasty (or more commonly, an “arm lift”) that can alleviate the extra tissue in your upper arms.
Simply put, an arm lift is a surgical procedure intended to reduce the size of the upper arms by removing undesired excess skin and fat. Why is this procedure often needed? Over time, the soft tissue in the upper arm may become lax and start to sag or droop, causing the skin on the upper arms to appear loose and hanging. The arm lift procedure will reduce the size of your upper arms, reshape the skin and contours, and give your arms a more toned and proportionate appearance.
Are You a Candidate for an Arm Lift?
This procedure is ideal for people who have a significant amount of excess, hanging or flabby skin, either because they have had major weight loss or huge weight fluctuations, or simply due to aging. They may feel self-conscious about their upper arms and try to keep them covered.
Ideal arm lift candidates are in good overall mental and physical health, are at a stable and healthy body weight, and do not smoke. They have realistic expectations about what the surgery can and can’t accomplish, and understand there could be some negative side effects. For instance, while the loose arm skin may go away, you could end up with some surgical scars.
It’s important to understand that an arm lift addresses loose skin. If you are primarily concerned about having heavy arms because of too much fatty tissue and the skin on your arms is relatively tight, then liposuction may be a better option for you.
The best way to find out if you are a good candidate for an arm lift is to schedule a complimentary consultation at Perimeter Plastic Surgery. During your initial appointment, Dr. Deutsch will meet with you to discuss your goals and explain what is involved in an arm lift procedure. He will provide you with his professional assessment regarding whether you are a good candidate, and answer any questions you may have about the surgery. If there is another procedure that may be better for you, Dr. Deutsch will let you know. It could be that liposuction alone may be all it takes to reshape your arms, especially if you have good skin elasticity.
The Arm Lift Procedure
Most of Dr. Deutsch’s patients have their arm lifts done at an accredited hospital, on an outpatient basis. The procedure may be performed under general or local anesthesia, and normally takes one to three hours to complete. Exactly how long your surgery may last depends on the extent of skin and fat removal that is required, and whether the arm lift is being done in combination with other body contouring procedures (such as a tummy tuck or breast lift).
Before beginning the surgery, Dr. Deutsch will first use a special pen to mark the areas to be removed on the patient’s arm. This will “map out” where he makes his incision. The incision length varies, depending on the amount of skin and fat that are to be removed. People with excessively loose, hanging skin on their arms may require a longer incision that runs from the armpit to the elbow. Other patients may have only moderate or minimal tissue laxity, and their incision may be confined to the arm pit area.
Once the incision has been made, Dr. Deutsch will then remove excess fat using liposuction, before trimming the excess skin and then tightening and repositioning the remaining skin. The incision is then closed with sutures (these will be absorbed by the body with a couple weeks). Finally, dressings are applied over the incisions and carefully wrapped in a supportive bandage, and drainage tubes are placed underneath the skin at the incision site to collect any elimination of excess blood or fluid. Compression garments may be worn as well to help promote proper healing. In most cases, patients will be able to return home the same day as surgery.
Recovery and Results
The total recovery time for arm lift surgery usually lasts between two and six weeks, during which time patients may experience some swelling, bruising, elbow or inner arm numbness, and mild discomfort. This can be managed with pain medication, which Dr. Deutsch will prescribe. He also advises patients to keep their arms elevated and limit movement for the first several days following surgery. Compression wraps should continue to be worn on the arms for two or three weeks after the procedure to help reduce swelling.
Many patients are able to return to work and resume normal, non-strenuous activities within a week or two following surgery. Strenuous activity, vigorous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least six weeks after the arm lift. When you are one of Dr. Deutsch’s patients, he will map out a detailed recovery plan for you, which will include booking follow-up appointments to remove your drainage tubes, monitor your results, and “touch bases” with you to see how you’re doing.
Most people who undergo an arm lift procedure are able to see noticeable results right away. However, results will become even better as bruising and swelling subside over the next several months. In the end, you will have better-toned, slimmer and younger-looking arms. You’ll be able to wear short-sleeved and sleeveless shirts and outfits without feeling self conscious about your arms.
Realize, though, there will be some scarring. If the incision was confined to the armpit, those scars can be easily hidden and are not usually visible. But even if you have a longer incision, in time, the scarring will fade and be far less noticeable after a year or so. In general though, most patients believe it’s a worthwhile trade-off, and much prefer a more toned arm and some scarring over flabby arms.
For most patients, results are permanent or at least very long-lasting, as long as they maintain a healthy diet and exercise program, and don’t lose or gain a significant amount of weight. After an arm lift, many patients actually develop a new determination to take care of their physical health and start a strength training program. Once your arms are fully-healed, strength training is an excellent way to build arm muscles to add shape to the arms and enhance the results of your arm lift.
Arm lift after massive weight loss. These pictures were taken 6 weeks after surgery.
Find Out if an Arm Lift is Right for You
If the underside of your upper arms have developed sagging, drooping skin, or appears loose due to excess skin, an arm lift may be for you. The best way to know if an arm lift would help you reach your aesthetic goals is to schedule a consultation with Dr. Deutsch. Please call Perimeter Plastic Surgery at 404-255-0886 to book your appointment, or contact us online and fill out our online appointment request form. Dr. Deutsch will be happy to discuss your goals and concerns, and help you decide whether an arm lift is right for you.