Excess skin on the back of the upper arm is a frequent consequence of significant weight loss and aging. Men and women are often motivated to seek surgery for this problem when the skin is excessive enough to be unsightly, clothing may not fit properly due to the size and shape of the upper arms, or patients feel obligated to wear long sleeves to cover the upper arms. An arm lift or brachioplasty, performed by Dr. Paul Pin at our Dallas, TX practice, is designed to treat this problem.
The Arm Lift Procedure
Excess skin is removed to reduce the size of the arm and improve its contour. In mild cases, the excess skin can be removed from the armpit. This results in modest improvement, but causes little scarring. As the problem becomes more severe, the incision must extend down the arm, toward the elbow. The length of the incision is directly related to the degree of the skin excess: the more skin to be removed, the longer the incision. The incision can be either on the inside of the arm or on the back of the arm. The incision on the inner aspect of the arm usually heals better, but is more obvious and removes less tissue. The incision on the back of the arm is preferred despite more scarring, because it is less obvious and removes considerably more tissue. The choice is usually determined by the patient. An arm lift is usually done under general anesthesia, takes about two hours, usually as day surgery.
As a 62 year old woman, this patient was worried that her skin was poor quality and that an arm lift would not make much difference.+ See Full Case
Arm Lift After Massive Weight Loss
This 47 year old woman had undergone massive weight loss but was still having trouble with her arms fitting into her sleeves.+ See Full Case
Arm Lift Before and After Photos
The patient in Case 1 was particularly concerned about potential scarring from the arm lift procedure. If the majority of the loose skin is in the upper half of the upper arm, the procedure can be done with just an incision into the armpit. However, the more loose skin and tissue there is, the longer the scar will be. In this woman’s case, the scar was placed in the back of her upper arm. She was satisfied with the results of her procedure, as well as the placement of the scars.
This case is particularly interesting because of the patient’s age and her concern about the quality of her skin. These concerns are common among older patients. As the body ages, it loses collagen, which is a natural protein found in the body; it helps to fill out the skin over the skeletal structure. Collagen also gives the skin elasticity, or the ability to conform back to its original shape after being stretched out. In light of this, the patient’s concern about the quality of her arm skin is completely understandable. She may have felt as though there would not be much change to the shape and size of her upper arms from the procedure. In spite of her concerns, she achieved good results from the arm lift procedure.
Similar to the patient in Case 1, the patient in Case 3 was concerned about scarring. She ended up with scars running down the length of the inside upper arm, to the elbow. Despite the scars, this patient felt that the dramatic improvement to the shape and contours of her upper arms more than made up for the long scars as a result of arm lift surgery.
Arm Lift Recovery
Since Dr. Pin always uses absorbable sutures, there are no bandages, no sutures to be removed and bathing is permitted the next day. Most of our Dallas, TX arm lift patients can return to work within a week and feel that this operation is not associated with much pain. Exercise can resume in two weeks.