Questions? Call (816) 286-4126
Matt Hlavacek, MD, DDS
Jason Baker, DDS



Lose the “batwings” — arm lift surgery

March 4, 2014, 8:29 am

arm lift surgeryDid you get your tickets to the gun show? You know the joke, but you are too embarrassed to tell it and show off your biceps because of the excess, flabby skin on the back of your upper arms. Maybe you’re too embarrassed to wear short sleeve or sleeveless tops. As winter begins to wind down and spring approaches, now is the perfect time to consider an arm lift, or brachioplasty.

What causes the excess of skin?

A number of factors contribute to excess skin on the upper arms, but the most common are dramatic weight loss, heredity, and the natural aging process. The loose, flabby skin results from a loss of elasticity. Once the elasticity is gone, the skin is no longer able to shrink to create a smooth surface over the underlying muscle and tissue. You may have finely toned muscles, but this skin prevents them from being visible in the upper arms.

Who is an arm lift candidate?

The ideal candidate for an arm lift has a significant amount of loose skin on the back of the upper arms and has been at or near their ideal weight for some time. You should also be healthy overall with realistic expectations regarding the outcome of arm lift surgery. If you smoke, you should quit prior to surgery. Those still 20 or more pounds overweight are at risk of needing a second arm lift if they undergo surgery then lose the remainder of the weight. For those with only a small amount of loose skin on the upper arms, this is not an ideal surgery as the trade off for removal of the excess skin is a fairly long, visible scar.

How is an arm lift done?

Brachioplasty is performed under anesthesia. The incision length will depend on the amount of tissue to be removed. During your consultation, Dr. Hlavacek will explain what you might expect from your arm lift both in terms of how much excess skin can be removed and how long and where your incisions might be located. Whenever possible, Dr. Hlavacek will use the natural contour of your arm to help minimize the appearance of your scars.

Through the incision, excess fat and tissue will be removed, and the excess skin will be trimmed. The incision will then be closed with sutures and bandaged. During your consultation, you will also have the opportunity to discuss the possibility of combining liposuction with your arm lift. By combining liposuction and an arm lift, you may have the unwanted skin removed in addition to contouring the underlying tissue for more sculpted upper arms.

Recovery from brachioplasty

After surgery, you will have bandages and compression stockings over your incisions. During the first few weeks after surgery, you should expect discomfort, swelling, and bruising. Wearing the compression garments as directed will help reduce these while increasing healing. During your consultation, Dr. Hlavacek will give you more specific guidelines for your recovery depending on the amount of tissue to be removed and whether or not you also plan liposuction, but in general, most people are able to begin resuming their normal activities after a little more than a week. At around this time, you will have a follow up appointment to have your stitches removed. More strenuous activities may be resumed after a month, possibly longer.

What about the scar?

The scar from an arm lift is permanent, and will be visible in most cases, but will fade over time. The scar will be pink and raised for several months following surgery, and in some cases, may be dark brown. It typically takes 12 to 18 months for the scar to begin fading and flattening. If you are considering an arm lift, it is important to inform Dr. Hlavacek during your consultation if you have ever experienced surgeries resulting in excessive scarring.

What are the risks?

Brachioplasty is surgery and thus has associated risks, including infection, excess scarring, asymmetry, changes in sensitivity, and excess bleeding.

If you are ready to learn more about brachioplasty or would like to schedule a consultation, call Kansas City Surgical Arts at 816-286-4126. We look forward to speaking with you!