A brachioplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure that reduces sagging and drooping arm skin, tightens and smooths the supporting tissue of the upper arm, and reduces the pockets of fat in the upper arm. Changes in weight, aging and heredity can cause the arms to have a drooping or sagging appearance and this cannot be corrected through exercise.
Undergoing a brachioplasty requires preparation, such as not smoking or stopping blood thinning medications 3-4 weeks pre-surgery. A brachioplasty is performed under general anesthesia or IV sedation, depending on the patient. After sedation but before the surgery begins, the surgeon carefully marks the incision sites so the scars will be as discreet as possible.
During a brachioplasty, otherwise known as an arm lift, the surgeon makes an incision on the inside or back of the arm, eliminates excess fat with liposuction if necessary, and tightens and shapes the underlying supportive tissue with internal sutures. Finally, the surgeon smooths the skin around the new shape of the arm.
Some patients only desiring a moderate adjustment may be candidates for a minimal armpit incision, though this depends on the state of the arms pre-surgery. Once the arm lift is complete, the surgeon will close the incision either with dissolving sutures or stitches that will be manually removed one to two weeks post-surgery.
Many patients can see the results of the procedure immediately after surgery, though some may have to wait until the swelling and bruising recede to see results. During recovery, dressings or bandages may be applied to the incisions, and the arms are wrapped in an elastic bandage or compression garment to minimize post-operative swelling. In some cases, a drainage tube will be placed temporarily under the skin to drain excess blood and fluids.
Full recovery typically takes 6-9 weeks, and most patients take at least 2-3 weeks away from work and from lifting heavy objects and small children.