Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)
Brachioplasty, or arm lift, is a surgical procedure that reduces flabby, loose skin in the upper inner arm. In 2004, the total number of these procedures climbed 53 percent from 2003 to about 17,000. Loose upper arm skin is usually related to weight loss. Skin is stretched with weight gain; when the pounds come off the skin sags. In addition, skin becomes droopy with age. Over time, the skin loses elasticity, loses adherence to underlying tissue, and is affected by gravity.
Brachioplasty may be performed under general or local anesthesia with sedation. It can be performed either in an outpatient surgical suite or a hospital. An overnight stay is usually not required. Before the surgery, the doctor marks the area of excess skin while the patient is standing or sitting. Once anesthesia is administered, the surgeon makes incisions in the inner and under surfaces of the arm. The pattern of skin removal usually follows an elliptical or triangular shape. Some fat may be suctioned at the same time. The surgical incision may run from the armpit to the elbow.
When excess skin and fat are removed, the remaining skin is stretched and sutured into place. A drain is often inserted to lead off excess fluid. The incisions are then bandaged. Surgery lasts one to two hours. You will have to wear a compression garment, a piece of specially designed elasticized clothing that stabilizes tissue after surgery and helps the newly shaped skin adhere to the tissue underneath.
Pain Level/Recovery Time: Many patients experience moderate pain for a few days after the procedure. Prescription pain medications may be prescribed for two to five days; over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen should be sufficient for a few days afterward. Avoid strenuous activities, bending, and lifting for the first week after surgery. Swelling may be mild to moderate. Stitches that are not absorbed will be removed after a week. Many people can return to work within a week and can exercise in about a month.
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