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Everyone knows about the floppy skin that can develop on the underside of the upper arm. Sometimes playfully referred to as “bat wings” or “bingo wings,” this excess tissue can jiggle unpleasantly when the arm is raised or moved, or cause clothing to fit poorly, resulting in embarrassment and a loss of self-esteem and confidence.

The upper arm lift, also known as a brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure specifically designed to eliminate the soft, sagging, and unappealing excess tissue of the upper arm, giving the upper arm a tight, contoured appearance once again. The results from this procedure can be long lasting, but patients need to commit to maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise. As the aging process continues though, some amount of tissue change is expected.

Is an Arm Lift the Right Choice for Me?

The best candidate for an arm lift at our Tampa or Sarasota locations tends to be an individual in generally good health who’s frustrated by sagging tissues of the upper arm. Those patients who are nonsmokers and have realistic surgical expectations tend to make the ideal candidate for an upper arm lift. We’ll set up a consultation with your surgeon before scheduling your procedure, giving you the chance to go over things like your medical history and surgical goals. If surgery is  the right choice for you, we’ll create a unique surgical plan to meet your individual needs.

Women tend to be more prone to the development of lax muscles and the loss of skin elasticity, while other factors that can cause lax arm tissue are dramatic weight loss, the aging process, and genetic disposition.

When to Wait on Arm Lift Surgery

Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should postpone the surgery. Patients who have underwent a gastric bypass should wait at least six months after their weight has stabilized. Poor healing of the skin is most likely to affect smokers, so smokers must quit at least one month prior to surgery and refrain from smoking at least one month after the surgery.

Planning Your Surgery

During your in-person consultation, Dr. Kreithen will inquire about your medical history, prior procedures, medications, allergies, and your motivations for seeking plastic surgery. We’ll go over your personal and medical details, and talk through anything and everything you might need to know about your procedure, including benefits and risks.

After your consultation, you’ll meet with our patient coordinator, who will give you a cost estimate and help you schedule your procedure if you’re ready to do so. You’re also encouraged to bring your spouse, significant other, family member, or a friend to your consultation for support, if that would make you feel more comfortable. We understand that this is an important decision, and we’ll be happy to meet with you a second time to discuss your surgery, if you’d like.

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Where Your Surgery Will be Performed

An arm lift procedure will most likely be performed at our AAAASF-accredited operating facility, and is usually done on an outpatient basis, but if combined with other procedures, may require an overnight stay.

The Brachioplasty Procedure

An arm lift is typically performed as an outpatient procedure, taking between one and two hours and being performed with IV sedation or general anesthesia.

To begin the procedure, your surgeon will make an incision in the inner portion of your upper arm, which runs laterally, from the armpit to the elbow (the exact pattern and incision length will vary depending on your individual needs).

Once the incision is made, your surgeon will excise excess skin and fatty tissue, by gently elevating the skin and fat, removing it from the underlying muscles of the arm.

Dr. Kreithen will then remove this excess skin and fat, before replacing the skin over the underlying muscles. A drain may be placed beneath the incision, which is a slender rubber tube that assists in draining fluid that may accumulate beneath the incision and delay your healing.

This is also when we’ll perform liposuction to further sculpt and contour the arms, if you’ve chosen to add this procedure. A small cannula will be inserted, which suctions out the fatty deposits after they’ve been broken up. Once the upper arm has been appropriately reshaped, tissues will be smoothed out and sutured in place.

The incisions will then be carefully closed, to minimize scarring. Dr. Kreithen may use a technique in which all of the sutures are placed beneath the skin, to be absorbed by your body, eliminating the need for suture removal and improving your comfort and satisfaction levels.

We’ll apply a sterile dressing to the incisions, and a compression garment will be placed over your arms to help support them during the healing process, decreasing postoperative swelling and helping to decrease any bruising that may occur.

Types of Anesthesia

Anesthesia is an essential part of any surgical procedure, and must be performed safely. General anesthesia is the deepest form of anesthesia, wherein you are fully asleep, feel no pain, and will not remember the procedure.

Intravenous sedation, also referred to as “twilight sleep,” is a combination of local anesthetic, administered at the surgical site by Dr. Kreithen, and intravenous sedation administered by the anesthesiologist. You breathe for yourself, but will be in a deep sleep throughout the procedure. You should feel no pain, and will not remember the procedure.

Complications

By working with the highly experienced surgical staff at Holcomb - Kreithen, you’ll be able to avoid post-operative complications like infection and blood clots which are rare, but can occur. Infection can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, and the risk of blood clots can be effectively minimized by taking care to move around as soon as possible after your surgery.

There is a possibility of a postoperative blood clot or persistent fluid collection in the wound that may need intervention. Smokers will need to stop all smoking at least one month prior to and after the operation, as smoking may increase the risk of complications and delay healing.

Your Recovery Period

Brachioplasty surgery can be performed as an outpatient procedure, or you can choose to stay in the hospital overnight, especially if you’re having a procedure done in conjunction with other surgeries.If you choose to go home, you will recover in the recovery room for approximately one hour prior to being released in the company of a friend or family member.

You will be prescribed antibiotics and pain medication, with most patients finding that they’re able to transition to Tylenol or Motrin after three or four days.

When taking pain medicaiton, you’ll need to be sure you have a driver to help you with transportation, as it won’t be safe to drive a car within 24 hours of taking narcotic pain medication, due to an alteration of your reflexes.

Patients should expect the recovery period from the surgery to take around a week, with some mild pain and soreness present for the first few days (your surgeon will prescribe pain medications for a more comfortable recovery). Some swelling and bruising may occur on the upper arm, but will resolve over the first five to seven days. Generally, patients feel well enough to return to work or school in two to three days, but strenuous activity should be avoided for four to six weeks.

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Getting Back to Normal

You should plan to take it easy following your surgery. Walking after your surgery will reduce swelling, lower the chance of blood clots, and tone muscles. Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided until you can do it comfortably, approximately four to six weeks after the surgery. You may lift up to 10 pounds in each hand during the initial six-week period.

You should plan to wear the compression garment or Ace wrap for at least three weeks following your surgery, and expect that Dr. Kreithen will remove the drainage tubes within several days, if they’re present.

Scarring After Your Procedure

There will be a scar on the underside of your arm, with the possibility of having delayed healing, or even an open wound, that may take several weeks to heal. The scar may also be unattractive for several months. Poor healing, which results in overly conspicuous scars, may necessitate a second operation.

Scars are the greatest drawback of this operation. They will extend from the armpit to the elbow, along the inside of your arm, in a way exchanging one cosmetic issue (loose skin) for another (scars).

In general, those with very loose, saggy skin are most likely to find this exchange worthwhile. Those with a small amount of looseness, however, might be interested in the scarring that can accompany the procedure.

During your consultation, we’ll work with you to answer any questions, and help you make the most informed decision possible.

Before & After

Your New Look

You will notice an improvement in your arm contour immediately. However, your shape will continue to improve in the following weeks as the mild swelling subsides. You should be up and walking the day following surgery, although your arms will be sore for several days. You should be able to resume your normal daily activities within several days following surgery.

The Holcomb - Kreithen Difference

Holcomb - Kreithen Plastic Surgery is widely considered the top cosmetic practice in the state of Florida.

Dr. Kreithen is a leader in rejuvenating and restorative procedures of the body. To schedule a consultation appointment for the upper arm lift, or any other procedure we offer, call (866) 218-4810.

We will be happy to answer your questions, as well as provide travel arrangements for those coming from out of town.

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FAQ

When can I see the results?

The results from an upper arm lift will be immediately apparent. In about six months, once the swelling has time to fully resolve and the tissues have healed completely, the full benefits from your surgery will become fully apparent. You will have some noticeable scarring, running from the armpit to the elbow, but most patients are so pleased with the dramatic results from their arm lift that the scar rarely becomes an issue.

Are there any risks?

The surgery is considered an extremely safe and efficient procedure. There is the rare occasion for complications, though, as an upper arm lift is an invasive procedure. Risks can include excessive scarring, bleeding, infection, poor wound healing, and permanent numbness in the arm. To minimize the chance for complications, patients are encouraged to use only a skilled, Board Certified cosmetic surgeon such as Dr. Kreithen.

Is liposuction an option?

Liposuction will not help if your problem only involves loose skin. The only time liposuction in Sarasota is a good choice is when a high amount of excess fat is present, and the skin is tight. When the skin is loose, an arm lift is usually the best choice.

Every year, numerous individuals looking for an experienced plastic surgeon in Sarasota come to Dr. Joshua Kreithen. His dedication and attentive patient care have allowed him to become acknowledged as a foremost Sarasota tummy tuck, liposuction, arm lift and thigh lift surgeon. Depending on the needs and desires of each patient, Dr. Kreithen might perform these procedures as stand-alone treatments or combine them into multi-stage treatment plans. He often recommends the latter approach for Sarasota body lift and other post-bariatric plastic surgery procedures patients. Please visit the respective pages to learn more about these procedures.

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