An arm lift (brachioplasty) removes loose skin and fat from the upper arm (often referred to as “bat-wings”). It ranks high on the wish list for many cosmetic surgery patients who have lost large amounts of weight. It’s also popular with people who have heavy upper arms due to simple genetic factors. Loose skin hanging from the arms tends to make patients self-conscious and limits clothing options. It can even cause people to avoid certain activities, like swimming.
Each patient is unique in terms of skin laxity and other factors. Patients may benefit from one or a combination of these arm lift techniques.
- Elbow to armpit: An incision from the fold of the elbow to the armpit can yield a dramatic improvement. This approach is frequently combined with liposuction to eliminate stubborn fat pockets and loose skin. Most arm lift candidates choose this method.
- Liposuction only: Patients with some skin elasticity remaining may opt for liposuction only. An advantage to this approach is that scarring is minimal. The right candidate can expect significant improvement, but not as dramatic as when skin is removed as well.
- Mini-arm lifts: A mini-arm lift is an option for patients with excess skin in the uppermost portion of the arm (near the armpit), and for those concerned about scarring. In this case, I make an incision in the armpit, sometimes extending a few centimetres down the arm.
- Arm and armpits lifts: Upper arm skin is thin and sags over time. Some people lose so much elasticity that skin hangs down from their armpits as well, causing embarrassment and difficulty with clothing. These patients are candidates for a combination arm lift and armpit lift with incisions on the upper arm and in the armpit.
- Arm and elbow lift: A smaller group of patients (like the one in the photo above) have loose skin above and below the elbow. These patients benefit from an arm lift and an elbow lift. I take great care with the incision across the elbow to remove excess skin while preserving range of motion.
Candidates for arm lift are often weight loss patients who have shed considerable weight resulting in excess skin and stray fat deposits. Post-bariatric patients should be near their desired weight and well nourished. Patients with loose upper arms due to their genes and aging may also be interested in arm lift. For proper healing, it’s best not to smoke.
Most arm lift patients take a week off work to recover after surgery. They are encouraged to walk as soon as possible, gradually adding light activities over a few days and resuming full workouts and lifting within six weeks.
The risks of complications for arm lifts have been rare in my experience. These uncommon risks include infection, slow wound healing, bleeding, seroma (fluid collection) and venous blood clots. Even if a complication were to occur, diligent post-operative care would still likely lead to a nice result.
After all the effort you’ve put into losing those unwanted kilograms, you deserve to look your best. If you find loose/sagging skin in the arms troublesome, an arm lift may just be the answer you’re looking for.
Question: What features annoy you the most from having “bat wings”? You can leave a comment below.