Arm lift “Brachioplasty”

What is Arm Lift?

An Arm Lift – also known as Brachioplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure that improves the appearance of the under portion of your upper arms (“bat arms”). It can be the result of significant weight loss from dieting, stomach stapling, banding or bypass surgery.

During an arm lift, the excess skin and fat are removed from the underarms between the axilla (armpit) and the elbow.

Although the results from an arm lift are expected to be permanent, if one fluctuates in weight the results may not be ideal because the skin can stretch again. We therefore recommend that candidates for this procedure are those whose weight has stabilized.

We consider good candidates those who are:

1. Healthy adults with no serious medical illnesses
2. People who do not smoke or are willing to stop smoking (smoking is recognized to affect healing).
3. Men and women who lost excessive weight due to dieting, exercising or stomach stapling, banding or bypass and are medically healthy.
4. Individuals with realistic expectations.

A long scar from the armpit to the elbow is expected after this procedure. The scar is usually placed on the bottom and inner aspect of the arm to make it less visible. The appearance of the scar usually improves with time.

Where Do I Start?

We recommend an initial consultation in our office. In this consultation the plastic surgeon will learn what really bothers you about your arms. You will be educated about the procedure. There will be: 1) a frank discussion about your goals and expectations; 2) an assessment of your arms; 3) the options will be discussed with you and the most appropriate technique will be emphasized; 4) the expectations will be discussed as well as the potential complications; and 5) the general course of the treatment plan.

The Evaluation Process

During your evaluation process you will be asked about your past medical and surgical history. It is important that you honestly disclose to your surgeon the requested information as this may have an impact on your “arm lift” results as well as the safety of the procedure overall. It is imperative that you truthfully disclose any illnesses and all the prescribed medications you are taking as well as the ones you are taking “off the shelf” ie. non-prescribed medications such as herb supplements, vitamins etc. They too have interactions with medications and anesthetics you will be given at the time of the surgery. You will need to disclose alcohol, smoking, and drug consumption as well.

Safety in Arm Lift

Arm lift (“Brachioplasty”) is generally a safe procedure. It can remain so by following the instructions of your plastic surgeon. Dr. Thoma is a certified plastic surgeon by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. This certification designates surgeons who trained in plastic and cosmetic surgery.

My Arm Lift (“Brachioplasty”)

Your particular problem will be identified during the consultation and examination. The usual problem falls into:

• Excessive skin and fat in the underarms
• Excessive skin only
Any of the above can be present and the Arm Lift will take care of them. The overall intention is to provide a better profile and a firmer arm skin.

Along with the excision of redundant skin and fat in the arms, sometimes it is necessary to excise skin excess below the armpit in the lateral chest wall.

The decision for the scar length will be dependent on your particular needs and will be discussed with you before the surgery.

Preparation for Arm Lift

Dr. Thoma will explain to you the procedure in detail. You will be told of the expectations of the surgery and the possible risks. You will be given specific details about what you should do the day before and the morning of the surgery. Before surgery or on discharge from the hospital, you will be given a prescription for necessary medications. You will have the opportunity to talk to the anesthetist before the surgery as well. You will need to sign a consent form in preparation for the surgery. This will be required well before the surgery.

Facility Where Arm lift is Done and Type of Anesthesia

Your Arm Lift will be done at St Joseph’s Hospital. Sometimes an overnight stay may be necessary due to excessive skin and fat excision or your low pain threshold.

This operation is usually done under general anesthesia.

After Surgery

After surgery, you will have dressings over the arms. A small drain will be left under the skin and you will be instructed how to care for it. This will be removed on your first post-operative visit in Dr. Thoma’s private clinic. Upon discharge from the hospital, you will be instructed again how to care for the dressings. You will be told when to take the medications and who to call in the unlikely event of a problem. You will be given an appointment to see Dr. Thoma usually within one week.

Recovery Period

Some swelling and discomfort at the incision site is expected. This should improve day by day. It is important that you be up walking the same day as the surgery to avoid developing clots in the legs which can cause serious problems.

During the first post-operative visit the dressings will be removed and you can start having showers. Until then sponge bathing will be recommended. You will be expected to be up walking the same day as the surgery. Return to usual activities improves gradually. Unrestricted activities usually take 4 – 6 weeks.

Expected Result

Although you will notice immediate improvement of the contour of your arms, the final result will be appreciated gradually over the next few months as the scars mature.

These are photos of Dr. Thoma’s patients. Written consent has been obtained to use them.