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Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)

September 14, 2016 — by Jim Lowe, MD
Tags: Armlift Bestplasticsurgeonokc Boardcertifiedplasticsurgeon

Am I a candidate for an arm tuck?

Patients who have had weight changes, skin and soft tissue redundancy, or over 40 years of age may be candidates for arm tuck.  Some patients only require liposuction or a small incision in the armpit.  In most cases, the need for longer incision is obvious, but in others it may not be clear.  The best candidates for surgery have substantial skin and soft tissue excess with “winging” of the upper arm.  Patients with significant skin in the lateral breast and axilla may want to consider a breast lift as well.  Liposuction may be all that is required in patients with firm skin and isolated fat deposits. Dr. Lowe always combines arm tucks with liposuction to ensure the best results. 

What is the difference between a mini and standard arm tuck?

There are a number of different ways to perform arm tucks.  Most surgeons define mini arm tucks as limited procedures with skin removal confined to the armpit.  In our practice, arm tucks are priced based on time and complexity.  Patients requiring less work and time in the operating room are rewarded by a smaller fee.  Some arm tucks are more extensive requiring more undermining and skin and soft tissue removal.  Patient with redundancy below the elbow may be candidates for extended arm tucks.  The natural break in the skin usually determines scar location and length. The patient’s age and health will also help to determine the best operation. 

What is the best technique?

Patients should take some time to decide what areas of the upper arm and axilla are of concern.  Patients may want a smooth flat upper arm and others only a small improvement.  In most cases patients choose to have as much skin and fat removed as possible to ensure a lasting result. The longer the surgical incision the more skin redundancy may be removed. Some patients prefer limited incisions that they can conceal in the armpit or lateral breast. Many patients combine arm tucks with other procedures such as breast-lift or trunk liposuction. Scars length should be limited when possible. A frank discussion with Dr. Lowe will help most patients chose the best option. 

What’s the recovery like?

One of the most important decisions for patients considering arm tucks is where and when.   Arm tucks are almost always done outpatient in our in-office surgical suite.  Most patients complain of very little pain after surgery.  We ask patients to limit activity for 2-3 weeks and patients need to wear support garments or arm compression for 2 weeks.  Some patients require surgical drains to decrease fluid collection and control swelling that are usually removed the next day. Sutures stay for several weeks and the scar takes several months to mature. Patients report swelling, numbness, scarring, and minor pain for up to 6 months after arm tucks. 

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