Arm tissue can droop with age or weight loss and the result is sagging. This is known as Ptosis and is often called “bat wings” or “bingo wings”. To correct this deformity, an arm lift (Brachioplasty) is undertaken.
The results can achieve a more balanced body shape and a younger appearance of the arms. A patient will regain the confidence to wear sleeveless clothing.
The typical cost of Brachioplasty is around £2,000 although costs can vary. The treatment is almost always undertaken privately. Payment schemes where the cost is spread over several months may be available.
According to the degree of drooping, surplus skin is removed from the inner arm. The surgeon makes an incision where the tissue can more easily be tightened. The surgery takes about two hours and is normally performed under a general anaesthetic. Liposculpture can be combined with surgery. This procedure takes away subcutaneous fatty tissue. Lifting heavy weights should be avoided for about one month. Surgery is almost always performed for aesthetic reasons and can result in a younger appearance to a person’s arms. There will be scarring although scars will fade after about a year.
Brachioplasty (arm lift surgery) aims to reshape the lower sides of the upper arms. Sagging of the tissues can occur in this area because of rapid weight loss, for example after pregnancy or a strict weight-loss diet, ageing (the skin loses its elasticity) or weight gain. It is visible when the arms are outstretched and can look unsightly when short-sleeved clothing is worn. Incisions are made and excess skin and tissue are removed. The procedure is relatively minor and is long lasting if there is no excessive weight gain or loss post-surgery.
Who is arm lift procedure for?
People who have sagging ‘wings’ on their upper arms. They may have a dislike of their physical appearance and want to wear short-sleeved clothes with confidence. Psycholgically they may have low self-esteem because of the appearance of their upper arms.
Who is arm lift procedure not for?
Women and men who have had a mastectomy. The lymphatic drainage of the arms is affected. The combined effects of mastectomy and arm lift may result in permanently swollen arms.
What does arm lift procedure involve?
The procedure is carried out using local or general anaesthetic. However most patients choose general anaesthesia. The procedure takes approximately two hours in the operating room and one to two days post-operative hospitalisation.
A short curved or stepped incision is made at the inner, under surface of the arms. In cases where the sagging is severe, an incision may be made from the armpit all the way to the elbow. If liposuction is performed at the same time extra skin and fat are removed and the skin is sutured and stretched over the area. A drain is inserted in some cases to prevent fluid build up.
How long is the recovery period?
Normally two days in hospital and then recovery time at home depends on age, sex, general health and fitness level. Some people recover after several weeks; for others it may take several months. The state of the person before surgery is a good indicator for recovery time. If they are fit, follow a healthy diet, are a non-smoker and not a heavy drinker recovery time is likely to be shorter with fewer complications.
What can I expect post-operatively?
Extensive swelling, bruising, possible numbness and a drain. There will also be ‘tightening’ of the skin in the area. Scarring will become evident. You will have stitches and possibley deeper sutures. You will be put on a prophylactic (preventative) course of antibiotics and painkillers.
After a week you will need to return to have your stitches removed. Check-up visits will also be arranged.
What are the risks?
In general, if a reputable surgeon has been chosen, the arm lift procedure is relatively safe. But no surgery comes without risks. If you smoke, drink heavily, have diabetes or any other health conditions you may be at higher risk of the following:
- Bleeding (haematoma) – when blood and fluid build up in the wound.
- Skin or fat death (necrosis) – when tissues along the incision die.
- Infection of the wound – when bacteria enter the wound.
- Pulmonary embolism – when a blood clot comes away from the wound site and travels in the blood and lodges in the lungs.
- Nerve compression – when nerves are damaged during surgery. Leads to permanent or temporary loss of feeling.
- Scarring – healing of scars varies between people.
- Contour changes – ‘dents’ in the surface of the arm where fat and skin removal has occurred unevenly.
How can I prepare?
Undertake a thorough search of available surgeons.
Prepare yourself physically and mentally. Follow a healthy diet, do not drink heavily, do not smoke (try to give up if you do), get or keep fit. Discuss your decision with a health care worker such as your GP.