What is a Brachioplasty?
Excess skin and fat of the upper arm is frequently stubborn and difficult to lose. For patients with a history of massive weight loss, the loose and redundant skin of the upper arm will never be removed with diet and exercise. A brachioplasty surgery is designed to remove this excess skin and fat of the upper arm. After surgery, the arms will have a smaller, smoother, and sleeker contour.
Who is a candidate for Brachioplasty?
You may want to consider a brachioplasty if you have:
- Excess and lax skin under the upper arm from massive weight loss or aging
- Excess fat deposits on the underside of the upper arm that are resistant to diet and exercise
- Excess fat and skin of the upper arm that make it difficult to wear appropriately sized clothes
As with all body contouring procedures, the ideal patient has been stable at their goal weight and does not have plans for future weight loss.
How is a Brachioplasty Performed?
A brachioplasty can be performed in various manners:
- Liposuction only – In this procedure, liposuction cannulas are inserted into the upper arm and the stubborn fat deposits of the upper arm are removed. This procedure leaves only small liposuction incisions on the arm. The best candidates for this procedure are younger patients without a history of massive weight loss, who have good skin elasticity without skin excess.
- Limited scar brachioplasty – In this procedure, a single transverse incision is placed in the armpit. Excess upper arm skin is removed through this incision. Liposuction can also be used to assist with removal of excess fat in the upper arm. Good candidates for this procedure have a small to moderate amount of lax skin.
- Traditional brachioplasty – In a traditional brachioplasty, a long incision is placed on either the back surface of the arm, or the inner surface. The incision continues into the armpit area and sometimes onto the upper chest wall. Excess skin from the entire upper arm and armpit can be excised with this technique. A single drain will be placed in each arm. This technique can also be combined with liposuction if required. Traditional brachioplasty is the procedure of choice for patients with a history of massive weight loss or with extreme redundancy and laxity of the upper arm skin.
All surgery is associated with risks. The risks associated with brachioplasty include the risks associated with liposuction including bleeding, numbness, and contour irregularities. Risks associated with brachioplasty itself include bleeding, infection, fluid collections (seromas), injury to sensory nerves, hypertrophic scarring, asymmetry, and need for revisional procedures. It is important to talk with Dr. Rovelo about the risks of your surgery and how the risks can be minimized to provide the best possible outcome.
Brachioplasty is performed in the outpatient surgical setting, under general anesthesia. The procedure will take about 2 hours. After the procedure, patients will have drains and ACE bandages around their arms. Patients will go home the same day and will be seen in clinic in 2-3 days and then again at one week. When drain output has decreased sufficiently, the drains will be removed. Patients must continue to wrap their arms continuously, except for when showering. As the swelling resolves, patients will be fitted for compression sleeves. Compression garments should be worn for 6 weeks. Most patients can resume light activity and return to work after 2 weeks. Patients may resume heavy lifting and strenuous activity after 6 weeks.