For many people, the upper arm is particularly prone to sagging and can become loose due to fluctuations in weight and the effects of time. This is because the skin of the upper arm is among the thinnest on the body, making it particularly susceptible to sagging with aging or changes in weight. The loose skin will hang from the upper arm and is particularly noticeable when the arm is outstretched or waving. Some describe this appearance as “bat wings”, or even joke that when they wave, their arm waves back. While these descriptions are tongue-in-cheek, excess skin can be very bothersome to both men and women. This is why arm lift surgery is among the most requested body contouring procedures in our New York City plastic surgery office. Arm lift surgery, or brachioplasty, removes extra skin and reshapes the upper arm to improve contour. New York City Board-certified plastic surgeon Matthew Schulman, M.D., performs arm lift surgery to help men and women give their upper arms a shapelier, more youthful appearance.
THE ARM LIFT CONSULTATION
During your private consultation with Dr. Schulman, you will discuss the features of your arms that you find bothersome. Dr. Schulman will explain the techniques he uses to perform the arm lift procedure and determine which is right for you. Depending on your physique and goals, he may discuss his minimally invasive, short-scar arm lift procedure or a more traditional arm lift.
THE ARM LIFT PROCEDURE
The arm lift procedure is performed in our fully certified and accredited office operating facility. The arm lift procedure is specifically designed to remove the excess or loose skin of the upper arms. The incision is determined by the exact amount and location of your loose skin. Most commonly, Dr. Schulman begins the procedure by creating an incision from the underarm area and along the underside of the arm to the elbow. Then, he removes the excess skin, creating a smoother appearance. Liposuction may also be performed to help achieve a shapely contour. The scar will be along the inner aspect of the arm and is well hidden when the arms are relaxed at the sides.
In some situations of severe excess skin, such as after massive weight loss, the skin removal may extend within the armpit area, and even along the side of the chest. If you only have a small amount of excess skin along the upper part of your arm, you may be a candidate for a less invasive, mini arm lift.
After the arm lift procedure, you will have specialized compression sleeves on your arms to help control the swelling that is normal after this surgery. After appropriate time in our recovery room, you return home the same day.
Dr. Schulman and his staff will help you throughout your recovery period. Most people return to nearly all normal activities, excluding heavy lifting, within a few days following the procedure.
The results are visible immediately following brachioplasty and continue to improve over time. The benefits of arm lift surgery often last a lifetime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know if I need an arm lift?
A: An arm lift is specifically designed to remove the excess skin of the upper arm. If you have hanging skin when you outstretch your arm, you are likely to be a good candidate.
Q: How is this different from arm liposuction?
A: Liposuction will remove the fat of the upper arm, but do nothing for the excess skin. If you have good skin quality and extra fat, you may be a candidate for a liposuction procedure. But, if you have some hanging skin, you may require skin removal and an arm lift surgery.
Q: Do I need anesthesia?
A: An arm lift surgery is typically done under either deep sedation or general anesthesia. It is done in our fully certified operating room and you are monitored the entire time by a Board Certified Anesthesiologist.
Q: Is there a scar?
A: Yes. Because removal of the skin requires incisions in the skin, there will be a scar. This scar is located along the inner part of the arm and/or in the armpit area. The exact location of the scars will depend on how much excess skin you have and where the skin is located. Scars will fade over time, but will never completely go away, so you must be aware of this before undergoing an arm lift procedure.
Q: How long is the recovery?
A: Most people are able to begin normal arm movements within a few days. Soreness and swelling is normal and can last for a few weeks. Most people are able to return to work and school in one week.
Q: Will I need to wear a compression garment?
A: Yes. We recommend wearing special compression sleeves to control the swelling. Most patients will wear these sleeves for about 4-6 weeks. They are easily worn under clothes and are very well tolerated.
Q: Are there treatments to help the scar fade?
A: Special techniques are used during the surgery to help your scar heal as good as possible, however, your body is the ultimate decider in what type of scar it makes. We recommend starting silicone gel treatment to the scars early in the healing process. Also, there are lasers that are very helpful in flattening the scar and making the dark color fade. Your surgeon will be able to help you with a post-surgical plan to help promote the best scar possible. But again, keep in mind that some people make scars that are darker and thicker than others.
Q: Is it possible to have the incision in the armpit only?
A: This approach may be possible but only if your excess skin is near the armpit. Your surgeon will be able to tell you if this mini arm lift approach is possible for you.
Schedule a Consultation
If you choose to have an arm lift, or brachioplasty, in New York City, know that Dr. Schulman is among the most experienced in this procedure. Give our NYC practice a call at 212-289-1851 or click here to schedule your initial consultation.