Newport Beach plastic surgeon Dr. Richard H. Lee realizes that, over time, certain factors such as significant weight fluctuations, hereditary traits, or the natural aging process can cause the skin to lose its elasticity. The loose skin begins to sag and hangs off the body as this happens. These factors can also cause localized pockets of fat to become stuck underneath the skin.

Why Choose an Arm Lift?

Drooping skin and stubborn deposits of fat frequently develop in the upper arm region, resulting in a look sometimes referred to as “bat wings.” Although making healthy lifestyle choices can help, sometimes following a healthy diet and exercise program is simply not enough. 

Aerobic and strength training can help individuals reduce their overall body fat percentage and improve muscle tone. However, surgery is the only effective way to eliminate the loose excess skin once the skin's elastic quality has been lost. Dr. Lee performs arm lift surgery to remove the excess skin and fat from the upper arm area, giving you the sleeker arm contour you desire.

Who Is an Ideal Candidate for the Arm Lift Procedure?

Brachioplasty is appropriate for adults who have excess skin hanging from the upper arm area. Some fat on the backs of the upper arms is also common. This can be removed with liposuction or, if minimal, as a part of the arm lift. Patients should be in good general health. Cannot be pregnant or breastfeeding, and should not smoke or use nicotine.

Before & After

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Can You Lose Weight After an Arm Lift?

The contour of the upper arms can be affected by weight gain and loss. While brachioplasty is often performed as a contouring procedure after significant weight loss, surgeons typically like patients to reach their goal weight before undergoing this surgery. Further weight loss after brachioplasty could result in the appearance of loose or saggy skin.

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How Painful Is the Arm Lift Surgery?

The arm lift itself is not painful due to the effects of general anesthesia. After surgery, patients can expect mild to moderate discomfort, as well as swelling, bruising, and redness. These side effects diminish significantly in the first two weeks after surgery.

To manage comfort, patients should take prescription pain medication as prescribed and follow our post-operative instructions regarding the use of the arms. The compression garments applied after surgery should also be worn as directed, as these help with swelling and comfort.

What to Expect During Arm Lift Surgery

Before starting arm lift surgery, general anesthesia is administered so the patient does not feel anything during the entire duration of surgery. An arm lift is an outpatient procedure that allows patients to recover in the comfort of their own homes after surgery. To begin the body contouring procedure, Dr. Lee makes an incision either on the underside or the backside of the upper arms. The surgeon chooses the positioning and pattern of the required incision based on the patient’s unique anatomical needs and aesthetic desires.

Dr. Lee performs liposuction, if required, and then eliminates the surplus skin from the upper arm region. The plastic surgeon repairs the supporting tissues by strategically placing internal sutures. He next pulls the remaining skin taut, draping it over the new, sleeker arm contour. Finally, he closes the incisions with sutures and dresses the upper arm area in bandages and a compression garment over the bandages. The compression garment helps minimize swelling and provides additional tissue support as they heal.

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Arm Lift Procedure Scars

Although the incisions used during an arm lift typically result in a scar, Dr. Lee takes care to position the incisions in areas of the body that are not easily visible to others. This includes the inner underside of the arm, from the armpit to the region just above the elbow, or along the long backside axis of the upper arm. (In addition, taking proper care of the incision sites after surgery will further minimize the appearance of scars.)

How Long Does the Arm Lift Procedure Take?

Brachioplasty can last up to 3 to 4 hours. Patients receive general anesthesia for this procedure. Once the surgery is complete, patients are moved to a recovery area where they are monitored until the effects of the anesthesia have worn off. They are released to a loved one once they are sufficiently alert to return home to begin their recovery process.

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Recovery and Aftercare for Arm Lift Surgery

The average arm lift recovery time is usually 1 to 2 weeks. It is important for patients to follow their post-operative care instructions, including getting plenty of rest and avoiding certain activities for designated periods. Initially, arm strength is expected to be weak after an arm lift. As healing occurs, this can increase, especially once patients are cleared to resume exercise.

To facilitate their best and most comfortable recovery, patients may be advised to sleep on their back while recovering from brachioplasty surgery. It can be helpful to place pillows on each side to rest the arms on while sleeping. This position should be maintained for a few weeks.

It is not safe to drive for at least 24 hours after being put under general anesthesia. Patients who undergo brachioplasty also have restrictions limiting how far they can extend their arms in front of their bodies or overhead. These restrictions, combined with the use of prescription pain medication, may prevent driving for 7 to 10 days. Brachioplasty patients who do not have a physically demanding job may return to work as early as one-week post-surgery. The more movement required on the job, the more time off the patient may need. The return to work is discussed during the consultation and planning phase of care so the patient can arrange sufficient time for a full recovery.

How to Care for Your Arms After Surgery

It is crucial that you adhere to Dr. Lee’s instructions after arm lift surgery to ensure the best results possible and to decrease the risk of post-surgical complications. He will provide you with a complete guide to recovery, but you should be prepared to keep your arms elevated as much as possible, avoid the sun and re-wrap your bandages as needed.

You will return to Dr. Lee’s office for follow-up appointments to help ensure the healing process is running smoothly and begin therapy to reduce the signs of scarring.

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How Long Do the Results of an Arm Lift Last?

The results of an arm life are considered semi-permanent. The contour of the arms is permanently altered but not immune to the aging process. At some point, the tissue once again begins to lose firmness, showing symptoms like sagging. This is usually not as dramatic as the sagging before surgery. Brachioplasty patients can prolong their surgical results by maintaining a healthy weight and performing arm-specific exercises that strengthen and tone the backs of the arms.

When Can You Start Exercising After An Arm Lift?

Patients can expect to pause their exercise routine after their arm lift procedure. Generally, surgeons approve mild to moderate exercise beginning 4 to 6 weeks after brachioplasty. Before this, patients are encouraged to take walks. After surgery, most of our physical energy is directed toward tissue healing.

Too much walking, even, can lead to unnecessary fatigue. Patients may take short walks to support optimal circulation and prevent blood clots in the legs. During your post-op follow-up visit, Dr. Lee will discuss which exercises can resume and to what extent.

Schedule An Arm Lift Consultation

The upper arms are one of the most challenging areas to tone and tighten through exercise alone. Dr. Richard H. Lee is pleased to offer arm lift surgery to help men and women get their desired look. Dr. Lee is a board-certified plastic surgeon who has been practicing for over 15 years. He offers an artistic and detailed approach to plastic surgery to help you achieve your results.

Find out if an arm lift is right for you by calling our office today. You can also go to our contact page and fill out an appointment request form, and our staff will help you set up your consultation. Richard H. Lee, MD Plastic Surgery serves Newport Beach, Irvine, Santa Ana, and nearby areas of California.

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