Expert Body & Facial Plastic Surgeon

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Brachioplasty or Arm Lift Surgery

Arm Lift SurgeryDr. Robert Backstein, Toronto arm lift surgeon, advises arm lift surgery be performed on individuals with loose, hanging arm skin. This problem may be a result of significant weight loss or simply due to the natural aging process. Many people who have lost a significant amount of weight through diet, exercise and especially through weight loss surgery (gastric bypass surgery , gastric banding etc.) will be left with arms with sagging skin. This problem is most evident when the arm is stretched out such as when waving goodbye. The same problem is often noted in patients that have not lost significant weight but have reached an age in which the elasticity of the skin of the upper arm has been lost. In either case, it is essentially impossible to correct using exercise since the issue is one of loose skin and not of muscle or fat.

Exercise tones muscle and lessens fat content but has no effect on skin tone. For this reason, many patients find that exercise and dieting actually make the problem of sagging arms even worse since further loss of weight causes the skin to become even more redundant and loose. As such, Dr. Backstein suggests that good candidates for arm lifts are individuals who have hanging skin on the arms and are prepared to tolerate the scars that are left by the arm lift (brachioplasty) surgery.

Depending on the extent of loose skin on the arms, either a modified arm lift or full arm lift will be recommended. A modified arm lift is suggested for more minor cases of redundant arm skin and uses a relatively short incision placed in the armpit. A full arm lift is suggested for more extensive cases and uses a long incision placed extending from the arm pit to around the elbow on the inside of the arm. Some patients will also be candidates for alternatives to arm lift surgery to recontour their arms.

Preparing For Arm Lift Surgery

Preparing for arm lift surgery involves mental preparation, a review of your current medications and vitamins, and following standard pre-operative instructions. Mental preparation for arm lift surgery is key to a pleasant post-operative recovery. It is important to understand that you are undertaking a very commonly performed procedure and that Toronto arm lift specialist, Dr. Backstein, will have screened you pre-operatively to ensure you are a safe candidate for the procedure. Furthermore, arm lift surgery by its nature is a safe procedure since the surgical work is carried out in a superficial plane of the body well away from major organs. It is equally important to understand that immediately post-operatively your arms will look somewhat larger and less natural than they will several weeks post-op. In particular, swelling can develop in the hands and fingers as well as the upper arm. This look will resolve soon after your arm lift surgery. Some patients sense a feeling of numbness or even pins and needles in their fingers for several days after arm lift surgery.

Make sure you review any medications and vitamins at least two weeks prior to your surgical date. Medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs, blood thinners/anticoagulants and vitamin E products should be discontinued completely for at least two weeks prior to arm lift surgery in order to minimize the risk of extra bleeding during or after surgery. Multi-vitamins may contain vitamin E and should be stopped if vitamin E is present. Finally, be sure not to eat or drink anything at all from midnight of the day before your arm lift surgery so as to enter the operating room with an empty stomach. It is wise to plan for around 4 weeks in which no heavy lifting or vigorous work using the arms is required at work at home. Stressing the arm lift incisions can lead to an increase in scarring and in the worst case scenario could cause the stitch line to separate. While it is difficult for many patients to refrain from significant use of the arms because of busy work and family lives, a strong commitment to allowing your arm lift surgery to heal optimally will pay off in the long run with far less noticeable scars.

Arm Lift Surgery Post-Op Care

  • 1

    Leave your dressings on and dry until your first post-operative visit with Dr. Backstein

  • 2

    Avoid all heavy lifting, exercise, or otherwise stressing your arms

  • 3

    Empty and reset your surgical drains as necessary

  • 4

    Make sure to take the antibiotics prescribed by Dr. Backstein

  • 5

    Elevate your arms to decrease swelling and discomfort

  • 6

    Swelling of the hands and fingers is normal and will resolve

  • 7

    Leakage of some blood-tinged fluid onto your bandages is normal and will resolve

  • 8

    Do not smoke

  • 9

    Contact Dr. Backstein at if you have significant concerns

    • What is the recovery period for Arm Lift surgery?

Arm lift surgery recovery is a 2 to 4 week process. Most patients will have a surgical drain in each arm that is very easily and painlessly removed in Dr. Backstein's office several days after surgery. Heavy lifting and exercise should be refrained from for 4 to 6 weeks. As with other plastic surgery procedures, recovery occurs in phases. Initially patients will have swelling and some discomfort although arm lift sugery is not reported to be particularly painful. Swelling and discomfort will begin to noticeably subside after around 48 hours. It can take about 3 months for essentially all swelling to be out of the arms. Wearing post-op compression garments consistently as part of arm lift post-operative care will help reduce swelling sooner. Arm lift surgery scars will fade over months to years.

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