How Brachioplasty Can Tone and Sculpt Your Arms

Hold your arm up and give an enthusiastic wave to your neighbor. Does that thought make you want to cringe? When we age or lose a significant amount of weight, our upper arms can sag with excess fat. If you have arms with what are lovingly referred to as “bat wings,” just waving to your neighbor can make you want to hide under extra layers of clothing. Dr. Jane Rowley is the leading board-certified surgeon in Lubbock with the training and expertise to tone and sculpt your arms. After an arm lift (also known as a brachioplasty), Lubbock patients may find themselves waving to both friends and strangers just to show off their new arms.  

What an Arm Lift Does

Brachio means arm, and plasty means to mold or to form. An arm lift removes both fat and extra skin on the underside of the upper arm area. While it may seem simple just to remove fat, this procedure requires the artistic touch of a skilled and experienced surgeon like Dr. Rowley. An arm lift includes a careful sculpting of the arm to ensure the taper in size from shoulder to wrist looks smooth and natural. An improved contour of the arms can boost confidence and give you the freedom to wear what you want without worrying about arm flab.

The Ideal Arm Lift Candidate

Building muscle in our triceps and biceps is fairly straightforward, but getting the lean, toned look to go with it is another story. The effects of gravity become more apparent with age, and the upper arms are known for revealing unwanted saggy skin. Lifting weights and doing push ups are great strength exercises, but they won’t get rid of any excess skin. Brachioplasty will remove the sagging skin to create a more flattering shape for your arms. If you have excess skin and fatty tissue on your upper arms that do not change with exercise, you could be a good candidate for arm lift plastic surgery. 

Some patients have noticeable sagging skin on their arms after losing weight. Without the fat to fill it out, the arm skin loses elasticity and is left to hang. The unsightly flab is enough to put a damper on the triumph you feel when you reach your weight loss goals. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to trim your upper arms, keep in mind that the ideal arm lift candidate will need to meet the following criteria:

  • You are at a healthy, stable weight
  • You are in overall good health with no medical conditions that would increase surgical risks 
  • You do not use nicotine, or you can stop for an extended period of time
  • You have realistic expectations about what the procedure can achieve
  • You do not have excessive fat in your upper arms

It is important to understand that just like most types of plastic surgery, an arm lift cannot be done without leaving a scar. If you have only a minimal amount of sagging skin, brachioplasty may not be the best option for you. Patients with more extensive amounts of excess skin tend to be the best candidates for the surgery. Talk to your doctor about what you hope to achieve with the procedure.

Preparing for Brachioplasty

During your arm lift consultation, be prepared to go over your medical history and any drugs or supplements you may be taking. Your doctor will examine your arms and determine whether the excess skin and fat is significant enough to warrant the procedure. You will need to clearly communicate your hopes and expectations for the surgical results. Don’t be afraid to ask questions; this is your chance to get a thorough understanding of the procedure and how it can personally benefit you. If you smoke, it is important that you plan to stop for several weeks before and after your surgery. Additionally, do not take aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs as they may put you at greater risk for bleeding.

Should You Add Liposuction? 

Liposuction itself does not get rid of any excess skin; it removes fat to trim and shape the arm. Because removing fat often leaves an excess of skin, pairing liposuction with brachioplasty may be necessary for more dramatic results. For patients who only need a minimal reduction in size and whose skin is firm and elastic, liposuction alone may be sufficient. Consult with your plastic surgeon about the best combination of procedures for you. 

What Happens During Surgery?

Brachioplasty is an outpatient procedure performed by your plastic surgeon with the use of general anesthesia. An arm lift typically takes about one hour to complete. During surgery, the surgeon will make an incision that runs between the elbow and the armpit area on the back of each arm. Next, loose skin and fat is removed to create a sculpted appearance for the upper arms. Dr. Rowley does not place drains in her arm lift patients, and she uses absorbable sutures. Watch the video below to hear more from Dr. Rowley about the arm lift procedure.

Recovery After Your Arm Lift 

After plastic surgery, Lubbock patients should plan to have someone drive them home from their operation and stay with them for at least the first 24 hours. You need to have someone with you as you start your recovery and work through the side effects of anesthetics. Pain and discomfort after brachioplasty are typically limited to some mild to moderate soreness, bruising, and swelling. These symptoms should resolve within several days, but in the meantime, you may use the prescription pain medication your doctor prescribes. Your surgeon will ask that you try to keep your arms elevated and as straight as possible. You will be fitted for compression garments for your arms as well. It is important to rest and follow your surgeon’s instructions carefully for a successful recovery.

One of the more challenging parts of your recovery may be the restrictions on lifting anything heavy or raising your arms above shoulder level for three to four weeks. You might have to get used to asking for help, especially with tasks such as washing your hair or caring for small children. 

It is best to wait for your surgeon’s approval before jumping back into your exercise routine. You may be able to go on walks or do some light cardio before resuming strength training. Try to resist the temptation to push yourself too hard when you get back to the gym; if a certain type of movement hurts, don’t do it! Once you do start building muscle in your arms again, the tone and definition will be much more noticeable without the excess skin and fat.

What About Scars? 

Brachioplasty leaves visible scars on the arms. The length of the incision depends on how much skin and fat needs to be removed, so scars will look different on each individual patient. If you are considering an arm lift, chances are you have already thought about the end result and you would be happy to trade in your drooping arms for a couple of scars. 

Scars may appear red or bumpy for the first part of your recovery, but the good news is they will smooth out and fade in color as time passes. Still, it can be challenging to get used to seeing scars on your arms, even if they are only visible from the back. If this is a concern for you, consider some of the things you can do to minimize the appearance of arm lift scars. 

  • Choose a well-qualified plastic surgeon. You can increase your chances of getting the best results from plastic surgery before you ever enter the operating room. By selecting a surgeon with the right qualifications and experience, you will minimize your risk of complications, including ending up with unsightly scars. Board certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery is a must when it comes to choosing a doctor. This certification is only given to surgeons who have proven to be skilled experts in their field. An experienced board-certified plastic surgeon will be able to make precise incisions in the correct locations to minimize the appearance of scars. For more information on why you should choose a board-certified surgeon, watch the video below.
  • Follow all post-operative instructions. You may feel like you’ve been given a lot of information regarding your recovery period. Your doctor will advise you as to which activities to avoid, when to take certain prescriptions, and even when you are allowed to shower after surgery. For proper wound healing and scar minimization, it is essential to follow all of these instructions precisely. Changing your bandages, keeping the surgical area clean, and watching for signs of infection are important steps to take after brachioplasty. And remember, never hesitate to contact your surgeon’s office for any questions or concerns.  
  • Take care of yourself. It may seem simple, but self-care after plastic surgery is one of the best ways to heal scars. Arm lift patients should avoid things like sun exposure and nicotine use. Keep your skin hydrated by drinking plenty of water each day. Getting enough rest and fueling your body with nutrient rich foods are also important for proper wound healing. Taking good care of yourself also means being patient with your body as it recovers. Scars can take months to fade, so try to focus on enjoying your new and improved arm size instead.
  • Take care of your scar. If you can’t stay out of the sun, be sure to use plenty of sunscreen on your arms to protect the scars. It is also important to avoid causing tension or pulling on the incision area, as this can stretch the scar. Over the counter products such as silicone sheeting or silicone-based creams may promote scar healing. 

Getting Back into Your Life  

Your recovery period will range from one to several weeks depending on how extensive your procedure is. Each patient will have a unique experience with recovery from brachioplasty. Some people experience discomfort, bruising, or swelling. Plan to take at least a week off work or other obligations to allow time for your body to heal. Expect to be back to your normal activities in three to four weeks. You can start an exercise routine about six weeks after your surgery, but the complete resolution of swelling can take up to eight weeks.  

Rejuvenating Results 

Other plastic surgery procedures may get more attention, but brachioplasty is one that can also make a vast difference on the right patient. Sagging underarm skin is a common problem, especially among women. If you have lost a significant amount of weight or have noticed more skin sagging with age, an arm lift may be the right way to achieve your cosmetic goals. 

The results of your arm lift are visible immediately, and after surgery the scarring will fade significantly over time. On the right patient, an arm lift can make a dramatic difference in appearance and give the arms a new youthful look. Activities like waving, clapping, and exercising will be more enjoyable. Shopping for clothes will be more fun as you find that you won’t have to hunt for sizes that fit your arms. Hiding your arms in long sleeves or baggy clothing will be a thing of the past. And best of all, you will feel a greater sense of self-confidence because you will no longer be preoccupied with the worry over your arms appearance.

Say “Goodbye” to Arm Flab

Selecting an expert, board-certified plastic surgeon is one of the most important factors to impact the success of your brachioplasty. Lubbock patients who choose Dr. Jane Rowley benefit from her decades of experience and her surgical expertise. Dr. Rowley will discuss options and procedures thoroughly with you. With her decades of experience, aesthetic talent, and candid communication, Dr. Rowley is the surgeon you can trust with your cosmetic goals.  If you’re ready to wave “goodbye” to the sag and jiggle of today and “hello” to the toned, lean, and sculpted arms of tomorrow, call our office to schedule your personal, no-obligation consultation. 

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