Arm Lift: Cost, Risks, Recovery

Overview

Arm lift, or brachioplasty,
is a cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance of the under portion of your
upper arms. It is done by removing excess hanging skin from the underarm and
reshaping the under portion of the upper arm – from the armpit area to the
elbow.

Fluctuations in weight, aging and heredity
can cause your upper arms to have a drooping and sagging appearance. This
condition cannot be corrected through exercise. Arm lift surgery may be right
for you if the underside of your upper arms is sagging or appear loose due to
excess skin and fat.

Ideal candidates

In general, you are a good candidate for an
arm lift if you:

  • Experience significant upper arm skin laxity, no matter how much you
    exercise or diet
  • Are in overall good health
  • Do not smoke
  • Have stable weight

Cost

Generally, the cost for an arm lift includes the surgeon’s fee, anesthesia fee and operating room fee. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for an upper arm lift is around $4,482.

Also, a surgeon’s fee can vary based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used and the geographic office location.

Risks

No surgery is risk free. Risks of arm lift
include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Hematoma
  • Asymmetry in the shape of your arms
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Loss of skin sensation
  • Swelling of the hands
  • Seromas, or fluid accumulation

Your surgeon will discuss these risks fully with you prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

Preparation

Preparing for your arm lift surgery will
include discussing a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle
with your plastic surgeon. In your consultation with the surgeon, he or she may
ask you to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Stop smoking for at least two weeks before surgery
  • Take certain supplements before your surgery to reduce swelling and bruising
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding

Surgical steps

Usually, an arm lift is an outpatient
procedure. Depending on your treatment plan, you can expect the surgery to take
about two hours. During the procedure, your surgeon will follow these steps:

  • General anesthesia
  • Making an incision on the inside or back of your upper arm
  • Removing excess tissue and fat from your arm, often through
    liposuction
  • Reshaping the contours of your arm tissue
  • Closing the incision, using traditional or dissolvable stitches

Once you recover from the anesthesia, your
doctor will send you home with instructions on how to care for your arm as it
heals. You should arrange to have someone drive you home and stay with you for
at least 24 hours after your procedure.

Recovery

Because your range of motion will be limited, initial downtime from an arm lift can be several weeks. If you have a desk job, remember to plan for at least two weeks off from work. You won’t be able to lift your arms above your shoulders during this time, and your doctor may also advise you not to drive for at least two weeks. If your work is more strenuous or involves a lot of lifting, you can expect to take three or four weeks off to recover.

Your doctor may ask you to wear dressings
or bandages applied to your incisions, and your arms may be wrapped in an
elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling following
surgery. Furthermore, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the
skin to drain any excess blood or fluid.

The smoother, tighter contours that result from arm lift are apparent almost immediately following your procedure. But most people won’t see the full results until the bruising and swelling goes down. This can take a few weeks.

Keyword: arm lift.

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