What is an Arm Lift?
After large fluctuations in weight, often after weight loss surgery or extensive weight loss through diet and exercise, the skin of the upper arm can be markedly loose or stretched. An arm lift creates an incision in the inner groove of the upper arm just under the biceps muscle to remove the excess skin and fat and tailor and tighten the upper arm. Often commonly referred to as “bat wings”, the surgery will remove the tissue for improved contour and may entail additional liposuction to remove fatty volume.
Who is a Candidate?
Anyone who has loose or saggy skin and fatty tissue of the upper arm could be a candidate for an arm lift. The downside of the procedure is a scar that can be visible on the inner surface of the upper arm, but should be hidden when the patient’s arms are to the side. The scars will fade with time, and the improved contour of the upper arms makes the procedure very rewarding for those who chose to proceed with surgery. Patients should have reached a maximal and stable weight loss prior to surgery and be healthy and non-smoking.
Because the tissue of the upper arm tends to swell immediately upon initiation of the surgery, Dr. Sweat believes that a better and tighter contour can be achieved if the surgery is done under general anesthesia. Depending on the amount of tissue laxity and length and placement of the incisions, the surgery can take 2-4 hours. The surgery is done as an outpatient surgery and patients are seen in follow-up the following day and at regular intervals afterward. Drainage tubes are rarely necessary, though a compression garment is worn day and night for 2-6 weeks after surgery, depending on the severity of postoperative swelling. Because the incisions are closed with tension to maintain postoperative contour, small areas of separation can occur on the incisions and will heal with time.
Patients typically take a few days to a week off work and light activity is required to avoid stress on the incisions for 4-6 weeks after surgery. Final results will usually be seen at 3-6 months postoperatively. Scar therapy systems such as Embrace can help to alleviate tension on the incisions in the early recovery period and result in a less conspicuous scar. Patients are usually thrilled with the improvement of contour and a well-placed scar can be fairly well hidden with clothing or arm position.