Arm Lift Surgery
Your complete guide and quick links to everything you want to know!
What Is Arm Lift Surgery?
Arm Lift Surgery, known medically as ‘Brachioplasty’, is a surgical procedure to improve the appearance of the underside of the upper arms by removing the excess skin and fat between the armpit and elbow that has resulted from ageing or significant weight loss.
Can The Arms Be Tightened Without Surgery?
No amount of upper arm exercises can shrink the loose and saggy skin that has come about from loss of skin elasticity.
Nor can non-surgical treatments that claim to tighten skin ever replace an Arm Lift if one is truly required.
Can Liposuction Alone Ever Fix The Problem?
If your Upper Arms are not excessively bulky and your skin elasticity is still satisfactory, Liposuction alone may be all that is required.
If, however, your Upper Arms are bulky and loose from excess fat AND excess skin, Arm Lift Surgery, with or without Liposuction, would be the better option.
Performing only Liposuction on arms when there is loose saggy skin will reduce the bulkiness of the arms but it cannot tighten the loose skin, and with the bulkiness reduced, the skin will end up even looser!
Who Is A Good Candidate For Arm Lift Surgery?
You could be a good candidate for an Arm Lift if:
- You have a significant excess of loose skin with/without fat on the underside of your upper arms.
- You are in good general health.
- You do not smoke. Smoking impairs the healing process and increases the risk of complications during and after the surgery. If you smoke, you must quit at least six weeks before the surgery.
- You do not have diabetes.
- Your weight is stable and you are not grossly overweight.
Patients with other significant health conditions could be at a greater risk of complications during and after surgery and therefore would require a full medical assessment before being considered for Arm Lift Surgery.
How Is Arm Lift Surgery Performed?
Arm Lift Surgery is performed in a Licensed Hospital under General Anaesthesia and can take anywhere from 2½ to 4 hours depending on the extent of the surgery.
Your Surgeon will first mark the excess skin to be removed with you in a standing position. The incision will run from your armpit to the elbow on the underside of your upper arm where the final scar will be less visible. The length and pattern of the incision will depend on how much skin needs to be removed.
Surgery may commence with some liposuction if you also have a significant amount of excess fat. The excess skin is then removed. The underlying arm muscles are also tightened if required. Finally, the remaining skin is re-draped over the improved arm shape and the incisions are closed.
Although a new upper arm shape will be apparent immediately after the surgery, bear in mind that the arm tissues are still swollen and it will take 3-4 weeks for most of the swelling to subside.
After a short stay in Recovery, you can return home but you cannot go home alone. You must be accompanied by a responsible adult who can also assist you in the early post-operative period.
However, if your Arm Lift Surgery has been a more extensive procedure, you may need to stay in hospital overnight and then return home the next day after our doctor checks you.
Recovery After Arm Lift Surgery
- When you wake in Recovery, you will find your arms wrapped in bandages to minimise swelling and you may have a small drainage tube in each arm to drain away any excess blood or fluid. If drainage tubes have been put in place, they are usually removed the next day.
- Once the bandages and drainage tubes are removed, you will need to start wearing your Compression Garment. This needs to be worn for the next 6 weeks to help your arms heal faster and produce a better final result but it can be removed for showering after the sutures have been trimmed or removed.
- After the surgery, your arms will be swollen and tender. There may be some minor bruising as well. The bruising usually disappears within 2-3 weeks and swelling largely settles within 4 weeks but in some people total disappearance of all swelling can take several months. Do not be unduly concerned about these appearances – they are normal and temporary, NEVER permanent.
- In the first 2 weeks after surgery, wear over your Compression Garment only loose tops that open in the front so that you don’t need to lift your arms above your head.
- Full recovery takes around 4 weeks so you should expect to be off work for that amount of time.
- Sutures: If dissolving sutures have been used, your surgeon will trim the knots after 7 days. However, if non-dissolving sutures have been used, these will be removed 10-14 days later.
- Walking: Short, gentle walks around your home and within your limits of comfort are recommended. You can gradually increase the amount of walking provided it does not cause you any discomfort.
- Resumption Of Gym Activities: You may resume your exercise routine after 8 weeks but start VERY GRADUALLY and always ‘listen to your body’. If whatever you do hurts you immediately or the next day, wait 2 weeks before trying it again. Eventually, you should be able to return to all your exercise routines completely without any discomfort at all.
Arm Lift Surgery Incisions & Final Scars
‘Pros & Cons’ of Arm Lift Surgery
- The results from Arm Lift Surgery results are long lasting. Remember, however, that your skin will naturally lose some firmness as you age and some sagging might occur. Nevertheless, maintaining a stable and healthy weight can help you keep your improved appearance.
- Although any form of surgery has potential risks, Arm Lift Surgery, in comparison, is generally not considered high risk surgery.
- You will find it easier to fit into clothing and will look better in clothes as a result of the reduced upper arm bulk.
- You will have a scar from armpit to elbow. Although it is situated on the underside of your upper arm and will fade over time, the scar will never completely disappear and this could restrict your wearing of sleeveless clothes.
Potential Risks & Complications of Arm Lift Surgery
Surgery and anaesthesia nowadays are considered generally safe but both do have potential risks and complications which include:
Specific to Arm Lift Surgery:
- Pain, bruising and swelling around the operated site(s). These are normal, expected and temporary.
- Wide or thickened scars (hypertrophic or keloid) could occur if you are prone to them and pigmented scars are more likely in those with brown or Asian skin.
- Areas of skin numbness which are usually temporary until nerves re-grow over the next 6-12 months.
- Temporary restriction of arm movements due to the tightened skin.
- Wound infection requiring topical wound care and antibiotics.
- Hematoma (a collection of blood under the skin) which if large, may require a return to theatre to be evacuated.
- Seroma (excess fluid accumulation under the skin) requiring one or more aspirations.
- Slow or poor healing. More likely in smokers and diabetics.
- Skin breakdown which could require skin grafting.
- Allergic reaction to medications, sutures, dressings, or antiseptic solutions.
- Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT) and its potential to cause life-threatening Pulmonary Embolism. To reduce the risk of DVT, Calf Massagers can be applied for the entire duration of your surgery to prevent the blood in your leg veins from pooling and clotting.
- Adverse Reactions to Anaesthesia or Medication: The safety of anaesthesia nowadays in Australia is well established. Nevertheless, potential risks exist with all anaesthesia and unexpected reactions can occur. These may include nausea, vomiting, and allergic reactions ranging from minor to severe. Respiratory failure, heart failure, heart attack and stroke are rare but documented risks of any general anaesthesia.
The Cost of Arm Lift Surgery
The Cost of Arm Lift Surgery
The total cost of Arm Lift Surgery is made up of the following individual costs:
- Surgical Fee: From $9,900 depending on the extent of your surgery. Our Plastic Surgeon will provide you with a detailed quotation at your Initial Consultation.
- Hospital Fee: Hospitals differ in their hourly rates for Operating Theatres and Accommodation Fees if you need to stay in hospital after your procedure. Our Plastic Surgeon will advise you of your approximate hospital costs once it has been determined how long your procedure will take and whether you will need to stay overnight in hospital.
- Anaesthetist Fee: This will basically depend on the duration of your surgery. Anaesthetic Fees are generally around $880/hour.
- Post-Operative Compression Garment
Can I Claim a Medicare or Private Health Insurance Rebate?
Unfortunately, only a minority of Arm Lift Surgery patients are eligible to claim a partial Medicare Rebate because of Medicare’s criteria of eligibility.
If Arm Lift Surgery is performed for purely cosmetic reasons, it will not be eligible for a Medicare Rebate, nor can you claim on Private Health Insurance.