Many people who have undergone high-volume weight loss experience loose skin in the upper arm area. The bagginess of the upper arm, especially when severe, can create a batwing-like appearance and can be the cause of much embarrassment and self-consciousness.
Are you a candidate?
People with loose, baggy arms seldom are able to wear sleeveless clothing. The constant rubbing in the armpit can cause irritation and skin breakdown, especially during the summer when the ambient temperature is high.
What is the surgery like?
Arm lift (technically termed brachioplasty) is a procedure that addresses loose skin in the upper arm. Depending on the severity of the loose skin, brachioplasty can consist of Liposuction alone, skin and fat excision (removal) alone, or a combination. Liposuction is the least invasive of these procedures; however, the use of liposuction is reserved for mild cases of loose upper arm skin. Most people who have undergone high-volume weight loss require some form of skin and fat excision from the upper arm.
Will incisions be visible?
A permanent scar will be located down the long axis of the upper arm, on the inner aspect from the armpit to the area just above the elbow. There may also be a scar in the armpit itself; however, the scar tends to be hidden in the inner aspect of the arm, facing the torso, so it is not readily noticeable when you are walking or standing with arms to the side.
Where is the procedure performed?
Most patients choose to perform their surgery in an outpatient surgical center or an office-based facility; some patients prefer a hospital.
How do you prepare for surgery?
You will receive specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, taking or avoiding certain vitamins and medications, and not smoking. If you smoke, plan to quit at least two weeks before your surgery as smoking can inhibit your ability to heal. Avoid overexposure to the sun before surgery, especially to your arms, and do not go on a stringent diet. If you develop a cold or any type of infection, your surgery will probably be postponed.
What will the recovery period be like?
Some people return to work after one week; others require two or three weeks to rest and recuperate. Exercise will help you heal better. You should be able to return to normal activity, including exercise, within two to three weeks. Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided until you can do it comfortably.