An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes hanging excess skin and endows the arm with a smooth, lithe contour.
Many men and women experience sagging upper arms due to weight fluctuations, the natural ageing process, or genetics. Dr Grant Hamlet has helped many of his patients to achieve the arm contour that they desire. If you’ve lifted weights to no avail, but still can’t lose the dreaded “bat wings” or “bingo arms,” it’s time to contact the Hamlet Clinic in London for a confidential consultation.
- 1 Is an Arm Lift for You?
- 2 Brachioplasty Benefits
- 3 Arm Lift Candidates
- 4 Personal Consultation
- 5 Arm Lift Preparation and Procedure
- 6 Arm Lift Techniques
- 7 Recovery
- 8 Results
- 9 Cost
- 10 FAQ
- 11 References
Is an Arm Lift for You?
Do you feel the skin that runs between your elbow and the armpit flapping in the breeze? Do your sleeves pull and bulge from handfuls of loose skin on your upper arms? It can be a common experience as we age, but it doesn’t have to be yours.
Frustratingly, you can spend hours at the gym attempting to tone this area to no avail. Building muscle does not address skin that has lost its elasticity, and may in fact just increase the size of your arms, making them even more noticeable.
You’re not alone. Sagging arms is a common issue. Perhaps you’ve recently lost a significant amount of weight. In a recent study, 92% of the responding surgeons felt that patients faced functional problems relating to excess skin after dramatic weight loss, and a similar rate of patients complained about this problem across the UK (1). Perhaps you’ve inherited an unfortunate family trait (sorry Gran). The loss of elasticity that comes with ageing skin also plays a big role in sagging arms, regardless of your lifestyle or history.
An arm lift reduces this sagging skin, tightens the upper arm’s tissue, and reduces localized fat pockets in the upper arm. Excess skin and fat are strategically removed before the skin is redraped. The result is a newly contoured region.
There are many benefits to getting an arm lift if you commit to a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise. An arm lift can take years off the appearance of your body. This is particularly true if your arms have been making you self-conscious for some time now, as your quality of life and self-esteem will get a major boost. Imagine being able to wear cool, sleeveless shirts in the heat of summer, or feeling stunning in a strapless frock.
Slimmer arms also help draw attention to the shoulders and chest, and contribute to an overall slimmer appearance.
Benefits of Brachioplasty Include:
- Contoured arms that are in better proportion to your fit body
- Minimal scarring that fades over time
- Better-fitting clothing
- Increase in activity and self-confidence
- Eradication of fat pockets makes arms feel lighter and increases mobility
- Immediately noticeable and long-lasting results
Arm Lift Candidates
As with all cosmetic surgeries, the best candidates are those who are prepared to commit to a healthy lifestyle to responsibly maintain their results. Ideally, they should also be committed to a healthy future that includes regular exercise and a sensible diet. They should be at or near their goal weight and have attempted to tone their arms through regular exercise. Those who smoke should quit before and after their arm lift to ensure a rapid healing process. People who struggle with weight fluctuations and have unusual skin elasticity are generally not considered to be good candidates.
Your sagging skin may have been exercise-resistant, but regular exercise will maintain your hard-earned results. Dr Hamlet will be able to evaluate your candidacy for an arm lift after a review of your medical history and a thorough examination.
Your consultation will be a wonderful way for you and Dr. Hamlet to get to know each other, and discuss your personal aesthetic goals.
- Any medical conditions or treatments or drug allergies
- Current medications, herbal supplements, vitamins, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
- Previous surgeries
- Your goals for the arm lift surgery
Once he has evaluated your health, risk factors, and pre-existing conditions, he will be able to discuss the appropriate arm lift options with you. He’ll be able to explain the best procedure and the likely outcome, including any associated risks and complications. You’ll be able to take a look at before and after photos of other patients who have had arm lifts, so that you’ll know what to expect. Dr Hamlet will also take photographs of your arms, for reference. If Dr. Hamlet ascertains that an arm lift is not the ideal procedure for you, he will be happy to suggest alternatives.
You can read more about the other procedures that Dr. Hamlet performs on his blog.
It’s perfectly normal to feel a bit of anxiety when attending consultations for surgical procedures, and everyone at Hamlet Clinic will do their best to put you at ease. Dr. Hamlet suggests writing down your questions as a sort of checklist, prior to your consultation. If you do decide to proceed with the procedure during your consultation, you will receive instructions on how to prepare, what to expect from the procedure itself, and how to ensure your recovery goes off without a hitch.
Arm Lift Preparation and Procedure
Before your arm lift surgery, Dr. Hamlet may ask you to do the following:
- Stop smoking
- Get a medical evaluation and lab testing
- Cease taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory meds, herbal supplements, or other medications that have the potential to increase bleeding
On the day of the procedure, you should bring a shirt that you can put on without lifting your arms. You will also need to arrange someone to drive you to and from the surgery facility.
The anesthesiologist will administer a general anaesthetic for the procedure, although in certain cases a local anaesthetic and sedation can be used. Either way, you’ll be in a relaxed state and won’t feel a thing. Dr Hamlet will then make the incisions for the type of arm lift agreed upon during the consultation.
Liposuction of the upper arm can be safely performed to enhance a brachioplasty.(2)
Many patients also opt for liposuction at the time of their brachioplasty to achieve the slender arms of their dreams. In fact, studies have proved that additional procedures performed during a brachioplasty do not significantly increase complications. If you and Dr Hamlet decided that liposuction would achieve optimal results, he’ll perform this procedure at this time. Next, the skin is meticulously draped over the arm to give it the desired taut and toned look, and the incisions are sutured. You can anticipate that the procedure will take about two hours, after which you’ll be sent to a recovery room. You’ll be attended to by our caring staff and then sent home with your designated driver.
Arm Lift Techniques
Depending on Dr Hamlet’s examination of your arms, and the conversation during your personal consultation, you’ll have determined which arm lift technique will give you the best results.
A huge benefit of the traditional arm lift is that scarring is not visible from the front, and will diminish over time.
In this procedure, an incision is made on the back side of the patient’s arm, from below the armpit to the top of the armpit crease. Excess fat, tissue, and skin are removed, at which point the skin is redraped and tightened over the newly sculpted area. This results in the taut appearance that the patient and doctor are aiming for.
Patients who prefer that the scar is not visible from behind can request that the incision is made on the inner arm. However, in this case, some scarring may be seen from the front. Nevertheless, scarring from this technique is minimal from any angle and visibly reduces in time. Although this is the most common arm lift performed, Dr. Hamlet makes sure to customize the procedure to each patient.
A mini arm lift is ideal for patients with a minor amount of skin sagging and for those who are concerned about scarring.
A smaller incision than the one made during traditional brachioplasty is made along the base of the arm near the armpit. Just as with the traditional procedure, fat and excess skin are removed before the incision is closed and sutured. As its name suggests, the mini brachioplasty is designed for minimal skin removal and tightening. It’s not recommended for patients with significant sagging and excess skin.
Because the incision resembles the letter “L,” the extended brachioplasty is sometimes referred to as L-shaped brachioplasty.
The most wide-ranging of the arm lift procedures, this type of brachioplasty extends the incision from the upper arm to just below the armpit, on the patient’s torso. This allows for fat and excess skin removal from not just the underarm but also from the sides of the chest. It’s a great solution for patients unhappy with the bulges that can protrude from armpits, and ruin the look of sleeveless shirts, strapless dresses or tube tops.
It offers the most tightening of all three brachioplasty options, but is typically reserved for patients who have experienced extreme weight fluctuations.
Recovery from any procedure depends on the duration and extent of the surgery and the health of the patient. Be sure to ask Dr Hamlet any questions regarding post-op procedures, dressings/bandages, stitches, medications, follow-up care, and when you can resume normal activities. He’ll be happy to make sure that you have all the information you need.
After an arm lift procedure, patients will receive dressings over the incisions and compression bandages to reduce swelling and improve blood flow. A thin tube may also be placed under the skin to drain excess fluid or blood. Don’t worry, you’ll be given specific instructions on how to care for these drains and the surgical site, along with any medications to help with pain and healing. The Hamlet Clinic strongly recommends having someone stay with you for at least one night after the procedure to help with these dressings and drains. Make sure that you have someone to drive you home, and have a comfortable place to rest. You should have pillows to keep your arms elevated while you sleep will help reduce swelling. You’ll want all your medications and other essentials close by to avoid any unnecessary reaching during your recovery.
Use of pain medications can generally be discontinued after about a week, at which point Tylenol can be used for any lingering pain. Patients are asked to return to the Hamlet Clinic for a post-op evaluation. At this point, you’ll likely be told you can return to normal activities within one to two weeks but should avoid heavy lifting for about a month.
As your arms begin to heal, you’ll notice that the results of your brachioplasty improve daily!
Arm lifts are long-lasting, and you’ll be able to relish firm, slender arms for many years. Likewise, you’ll notice your scars becoming flatter and less noticeable in the following months. You’ll enjoy the smoother contours of your arms and feel more comfortable in your clothes. When you supplement your arm lift with proper exercise after healing, you can plan on stunning results.
Your arm lift will be customized to fit your body, and your goals. This procedure requires a consultation with Dr Hamlet to determine the extent of the correction. During the consultation, the doctor will build a treatment plan based on your needs, as well as provide a personalized arm lift quote.
Contact our London based office today and schedule a consultation.
Does an arm lift cause bad scarring?
Depending on the amount of correction needed, the resulting scar may reach anywhere from the inside of the underarm to the elbow. In a “mini” arm lift, the scar may only stretch the length of the armpit, and won’t be visible.
How long does recovering from an arm lift surgery take?
Everyone heals at a different rate, and arm lifts vary in scope. Plan on several days of quiet rest after your surgery, and about two weeks of total recovery. Avoid heavy lifting for a month.
What kind of brachioplasty is right for me?
During your personal consultation at Dr Hamlet’s offices in London, he’ll examine your arms and discuss your aesthetic goals to determine whether a regular, mini, or extended arm lift is right for you.
- Highton L, Ekwobi C, Rose V. Post-bariatric surgery body contouring in the NHS: A survey of UK bariatric surgeons. Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery. 2012;65(4):426-432. doi:10.1016/j.bjps.2011.09.047
- Zomerlei, Terri A. M.S.; Neaman, Keith C. M.D.; Armstrong, Shannon D. M.D.; Aitken, Marguerite E. M.D.; Cullen, William T. M.D.; Ford, Ronald D. M.D.; Renucci, John D. M.D.; VanderWoude, Douglas L. M.D. Brachioplasty Outcomes, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: April 2013 – Volume 131 – Issue 4 – p 883-889 doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182827726