During the natural aging process, we lose elasticity and collagen in the deepest layers of the skin (dermis). Simultaneously, the innermost layers of muscle, fat, and bone in the arm region also begin to deteriorate, causing the skin to lose firmness and begin to sag. The negative aesthetic effects of aging on the upper arm region become amplified in conjunction with environmental factors such as gravity, genetics, and fluctuations in weight. While exercise can help to increase muscle tone and overall strength of the upper arms, it does not address the issue of skin that is sagging due to a loss of elasticity, nor can it correct the problem of fat deposits in the upper arm region. Fortunately, upper arm lift surgery (brachioplasty) does treat and correct all of the aforementioned cosmetic issues, and is a safe and effective way to enhance the appearance of the upper arm region.
Celebrity physiques often have a dramatic impact on cosmetic surgery trends in America, and with the incredibly sculpted arms of Madonna, Jennifer Aniston, and Michelle Obama frequently appearing in the media, it is not surprising that the popularity of upper arm lift surgeries (brachioplasty) has experienced a tremendous surge in popularity, rising from 300 procedures in 2000, to 15,000 procedures in 2012. Celebrity culture is not the only reason for the substantial increase in brachioplasty procedures—many individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight (whether through diet and exercise, or bariatric weight loss surgery) have elected to undergo brachioplasty surgery to correct the issue of excess, sagging skin in their upper arm region.
Arm lift surgery requires a high level of precision and expertise, and should be performed by a board certified plastic surgeon such as Dr. J. Timothy Katzen. Dr. Katzen is a widely respected expert in the field of cosmetic body surgery, and has helped many patients tighten and sculpt the shape of their arms with brachioplasty procedures at his private practice in Beverly Hills, California. Dr.Katzen specializes in aesthetic and reconstructive procedures. Dr.Katzen has a vast level of expertise performing upper arm lift procedures. Arm lifts can be performed as a single surgery or combined with other surgeries like breast and facial surgery to complement full body and facial surgical rejuvenation.
Aging or extreme weight loss can affect various areas of the body differently. Sometimes the skin on the arms does not contract. The resulting unsightly excess upper arm skin and fat can make a person appear older than their age or continue to make a person appear obese, despite massive weight loss. Sagging upper arm skin may cause feelings of self-consciousness and embarrassment. Excess upper arm skin can also get in the way of day to day activities. Excess upper arm skin and fat may make you feel uncomfortable while wearing certain clothing and can make buying properly fitting clothes difficult.
Arm surgery can provide dramatic results to reduce the effects of aging, improve the quality of one’s lifestyle, boost self-esteem, and confidence.
What types of arms are there?
Type 1: Patients with type 1 arms have excellent upper arm skin tone and elasticity. These are people who are typically younger than 35 years old and have only minimal fat throughout the arm. The arm fat is usually distributed in the triceps region and sometimes on the back of the arm. People with Type 1 arms are best treated with arm liposuction.
Type 2: Patients with type 2 arms have excess upper arm skin and fat close to the armpit. This excess extends 4-6 inches from the armpit towards the elbow.
Type 3: Patients with type 3 arms have excess upper arm skin and fat that extend the entire length of the upper arm from the armpit to the elbow.
Type 4: Patients with type 4 arms have excess upper arm skin and fat that extends from the armpit to the wrist.
What are the different types of Arm Lift Surgery?
Arm lift surgery removes sagging, excess arm skin and stubborn fat deposits. Arm lift surgery can significantly improve arm shape. Dr. Katzen corrects the shape and tone of your arms using one of several different techniques to achieve more desirable, natural-looking arms. These techniques include:
For minimal arm sagging, Dr. Katzen makes a small crescent-shaped incision in the armpit. A crescent-shaped area of skin is removed. This type of arm lift surgery is beneficial because it removes skin and fat in the upper arm and the incision is concealed in the armpit. This crescent arm lift is good for patients with Type 2 arms.
Modified T Arm Lift
For patients with more upper arm skin and fat, or those patients who cannot tolerate a longer arm incision, the modified T incision may be a good alternative. The modified T incision involves a crescent incision in the armpit. Also, a small three- to four-inch incision is extended down the inner arm. This extension allows for more excess arm skin removal. The resulting scar is in the shape of the letter “T”, thus a modified T incision. The modified T arm lift is a good choice for patients with Type 2 arms.
Longitudinal Arm Lift
For sagging arm skin and stubborn arm fat, Dr. Katzen performs liposuction and then makes a longitudinal incision from the armpit to the elbow. To conceal the scar, this is performed on the inner arm. The resulting scar is placed in the crease between the biceps and the triceps. To minimize creating a dog-ear on the elbow and to limit the incision onto the forearm, the incision is curved around the elbow. The longitudinal arm lift is a good choice for patients with Type 3 arms.
For sagging forearm tissue, Dr. Katzen performs liposuction and then makes an incision from the elbow to the wrist to remove sagging upper arm and forearm skin and fat. Like the longitudinal arm lift, an incision is made in the crease between the biceps and the triceps. The incision goes around the elbow and towards the pinky side of the wrist. The forearm reduction is a good choice for patients with Type 4 arms.
With each of these techniques, Dr. Katzen removes excess skin and fat to sculpt and shape the arm and forearm.
What will I need for my arm lift surgery?
List of items you will need for your arm lift surgery:
- Recliner with power ejector button: this will help you rise from a sitting to a standing position
- Bed-lounger with armrests: this will support your back and elbows
- 4 to 6 pillows: to keep your arms elevated, place 2-3 pillows on each side
- Several towels
- Phone and charger
- Side table
- TV remote with fresh batteries
- Book or crossword puzzles
- Laptops or tablets and charger
- Protein drinks and snacks
- Back scratcher
- Long flexible straws
- Clean aquarium tubing to place in drinks so you can drink without assistance
- Camelback hydration backpack
- Loose fitting clothing with a zipper or buttons in front. Please avoid t-shirts or clothing that require you to extend your arms over your head.
- For women: Loose-fitting spaghetti strap dress (someone will have to tie the dress for you)
- Tube top dress
Before arm lift surgery:
To minimize hair care post-operatively, consider having your hair done professionally several days before your procedure.
It is important that you do not paint your fingernails. One finger is needed that does not have nail polish so that your oxygen levels can be monitored intraoperatively.
Do not shave your armpits. Dr. Katzen needs your armpit hair to plan the placement of arm lift incisions.
Do not apply skin moisturizers or body oils. These can interfere with the surgical prep and can increase the potential for infection. Oils may also disrupt the preoperative surgical markings.
What happens during the arm lift procedure?
If only arm liposuction is required, it can be performed under IV or general anesthesia. Arm liposuction takes approximately 1 to 2 hours. Arm liposuction is usually required for Type 1 patients.
The arm lift surgery is a 2-step process. The first step entails removing arm fat using liposuction. The second step of the procedure involves removing excess, stretched arm skin. Arm skin resection is performed by making an incision around the excess arm skin. For Types 2, 3, and 4 arms, the arm lift surgery takes about 3 to 4 hours and can be performed under IV sedation, but is best under general anesthesia.
Once you are completely asleep, your arms are prepped and draped in a sterile fashion. One incision is placed in the armpit and another one next to the elbow. A tiny cannula is inserted through small incisions, and a tumescent solution is injected. Liposuction tumescent solution helps to decrease blood loss, maximize fat aspiration, and minimize postoperative pain. Once the tumescent solution is injected, liposuction is initiated.
Once most of the fat is removed, an incision is created with a scalpel. For Type 2 arms, a crescent incision is placed in the armpit. For Type 3 patients, the incision extends from the armpit to the elbow. Around the armpit and elbow, the incisions are curved to minimize dog ears. For Type 4 patients, the incision extends from the armpit to the wrist.
Typically, drains are not used. If drains are used, they are usually removed 3 to 5 days after surgery.
You will awaken with bandages from your fingers to your armpit. These dressings are mildly compressive and are placed to minimize swelling.
When should I call Dr. Katzen?
It is important that you call Dr. Katzen if you develop any fever greater than 101.5 degrees, persistent pain, persistent nausea, persistent vomiting or persistent diarrhea. Please also call Dr. Katzen if you experience numbness of the fingers or significant discoloration.
What do I need for the trip home?
It is suggested that you sit in the passenger seat with the chair reclined slightly. Be sure to fasten your seat belt. Bring 3 to 4 pillows to place on your lap. This will allow you to rest your elbows on the pillows and keep your hands elevated for the trip home. With your arms supported by pillows and your elbows extended, you can rest your hands on the dashboard.
What can I expect after my arm lift surgery?
The first week after surgery: Keep your hands and wrists elevated above your heart with your elbows straight. Keep arm movements to a minimum. For the first several days, you will need someone to help you to brush your teeth, wash your face, and brush your hair. This is when the mouthwash and pre-operative professional hair care are appreciated! After approximately 5 to 7 days, the arm dressings will be changed, and ACE bandages will be placed for light compression. If the incision is healing appropriately, you may shower.
The second week after surgery: Your arms will still be sore and swollen. Short walks are encouraged. However, keep your hands at your side to minimize arm movement; your hands may become swollen.
The third week after surgery: If your incisions are healing properly, you may begin exercising. If your incisions are healing, arm compression garments are placed. Stretching the elbow and armpit is encouraged by placing your elbow behind your head. You may start light exercises such as yoga and riding a stationary bike. You may apply Bio-corneum or silicone based cream to the incision. Silicone strips can also help to minimize the arm scar.
The fourth week after surgery: As the arm incision continues to heal well, you may resume your normal activity level.
When can I go back to work?
If you have a desk job, it is suggested that you take 7 to 10 days off work. However, if your job is physically demanding, it suggested that you take 14 to 18 days off work.
What about arm scars after arm lift surgery?
Arm scars can take up to 2 years to fully mature. To minimize hypertrophic scars and keloids, silicone cream, silicone strips and compression have been shown to be beneficial. Once the arm incision has healed and there are no open areas, the application of silicone combined with compression therapy is encouraged.
Arm lift surgery can remove sagging arm skin and help you embrace your body and feel proud of your accomplishments. By removing the excess skin from your arms, Dr. Katzen can improve your arm contour so that it looks more natural and toned. While there will be a scar from the incision, it will fade over time, and many individuals feel that the resulting scar is far preferable to the excess skin and fat. While stubborn belly fat and excess skin around your midsection may be more easily hidden by clothing, the contour of your arms is usually quite visible and can significantly impact your image. Consequently, an arm lift can not only improve the appearance of your arms, but can also enhance your overall appearance. With the sagging arm skin and excess fat removed, your arms will look more attractive and toned, and you can be more confident in your enhanced figure.
Dr. Katzen’s practice is built on the foundational principle of surgical customization, meaning that as a patient, you will receive a unique treatment plan, tailored to reflect your specific aesthetic preferences, and designed to bring your surgical goals to fruition. Dr. Katzen and his professional staff have created a warm, welcoming office environment, where you will feel secure and comfortable throughout your brachioplasty experience.
Dr. Katzen and his professional team understand the importance of well-informed patients, and will take the time to thoroughly explain your brachioplasty procedural details and options. If you would like additional information about arm lift surgery, please contact our office today. We look forward to speaking with you and to scheduling your initial consultation with Dr. Katzen.