The upper arm is one of those places that the body just loves to store excess fat, particularly in women. In fact, changes in hormone levels associated with the natural aging process can lead to a saggy, droopy upper arm appearance even in women who are physically active and enjoy a healthy weight. Additionally, men and women alike can suffer from the “bat wing” effect after undergoing major weight loss that can only be resolved through an upper arm lift, or brachioplasty.
Recognized as a body contouring specialist and one of the top cosmetic surgeons in the Mobile-Pensacola metro area, Dr. James Koehler is a board certified cosmetic surgeon serving patients from Gulfport to Gulf Shores and beyond. In addition to upper arm lifts, Dr. Koehler offers a wide range of plastic surgery procedures for both men and women, and is known for his caring commitment to a patient-first approach.
Are You a Candidate?
If you’re bothered by a lack of definition through your upper arms, notice an undesired change in skin firmness and texture or have significant excess skin and tissue following rapid weight loss, you may be a candidate for upper arm surgery. The best candidates are in good physical and mental health, and have realistic expectations about their results.
About Arm Lifts
There are a few areas on the body that are almost universally challenging to tone up or slim down, and many people are surprised to find that the upper arms is one of these common problem spots. Even after reaching your target weight, you may find that your arms seem to lack a certain aesthetic appeal, or that your muscle contours aren’t noticeable enough due to a stubborn layer of fatty tissue. These problems can be exacerbated in those men and women who used to be overweight, as no amount of dieting or bicep curls can eliminate loose, excess skin.
During an arm lift, Dr. Koehler can correct a sagging upper arm by removing the skin and tissue responsible for your appearance concerns. Although an upper arm lift can be performed as a solo surgery, it’s also commonly included with other plastic surgery procedures after weight loss to help restore a slimmer appearance that accentuates your weight loss success, or as part of a mommy makeover. Other candidates who want to improve upper arm definition but still have good skin elasticity and firmness may consider liposuction in the upper arms rather than brachioplasty. Dr. Koehler will discuss all your options with you in more detail at your consultation.
What to Expect
At your initial consultation, Dr. Koehler will talk about the results you can hope to enjoy after brachioplasty, as well as conduct a physical evaluation that will help him determine the best technical approach to take during surgery. He’ll also make sure you have all the information you need in order to know exactly what to expect from your surgery and during recovery.
Incisions for brachioplasty may be quite small and hidden in the armpit, placed partway down the arm or possibly extend past the elbow. Dr. Koehler bases his choice of surgical approach on many factors, including your anatomy and the level of correction that’s needed. From the initial incision, any excess skin and tissue can be removed and the remaining skin pulled smooth before the incision is closed. Regardless of the specific type of incision used in your surgery, Dr. Koehler takes great care to plan placement as discreetly as possible so that the scar will be hidden by your natural posture when standing.
Since arm lift surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia, most patients can return home the same day of their surgery. Discomfort from surgery can is managed with prescription medications, and wearing elastic bandages to support the treated area can offer additional support. For the first 2 weeks of your recovery, you’ll need to limit your physical activity, and it’s important to follow Dr. Koehler’s post-operative instructions throughout the healing process.
Risks and Complications
The risks associated with an upper arm lift are generally minor, and include concerns like infection or having an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Irregular contours are a more serious potential complication, although this is rare. Surgical skill is an essential component of beautiful arm lift results, as a thin layer of fat must remain in order to protect the nerves and blood vessels as well as ensure natural contours after surgery. Dr. Koehler will go over all the risks and benefits of arm lift surgery with you before your procedure so you’re fully informed about what to expect.
Your New Look
Your upper arms should be improved in skin texture and contour immediately after surgery, although your final results will be initially disguised by swelling and possibly some bruising. You can expect the results of your arm lift to be long-lasting if you maintain current healthy habits and your existing weight. Although it is normal to experience further changes in the appearance of your upper arms due to the natural aging process, these are typically minor, and you can expect to enjoy your new look well into the future.
Upper Arm Lift FAQ
What should I look for in an arm lift cosmetic surgeon near me?
First, look for medical training and residency programs and affiliations and memberships with accredited medical organizations. Check online reviews and ask around to people you know who might have had an experience with this cosmetic surgeon.
Make sure this particular cosmetic surgeon has ample experience performing body lifts, including arm lifts. Look at before and after photos to help you gauge what kinds of results you could expect yourself when working with this cosmetic surgeon.
Is an arm lift the best solution for me?
The ideal candidate for an arm lift will be in good physical and mental health, but with stubborn fat and/or excess skin in the upper arms.
This area of the body can be difficult to target through exercise, and fat accumulations here often don’t respond well to diet and exercise alone. However, it is best to already be close to your target weight prior to opting for cosmetic surgery.
Does an upper arm lift hurt?
Arm lifts are performed either under sedation with local anesthesia or under general anesthesia. In either case, you should not feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure itself. Afterward, you can expect to have some swelling, bruising and tenderness for the first few days.
These symptoms are typically easily managed with over-the-counter or prescription pain medication, which Dr. Koehler will discuss with you during your arm life preparation.
How long does it take to recover from an arm lift?
Plan on 1 to 2 weeks of recovery after your arm lift. Many people are able to return to work 7 to 10 days following an arm lift, although this can vary from person to person and will depend on how physically demanding your occupation is.
You will need to avoid strenuous physical activity, especially that which requires lifting with your arms, for 3 to 4 weeks. Dr. Koehler will help you gradually increase your physical activity throughout the healing process for a smooth, seamless recovery.
Will I have a scar after an arm lift?
Yes — any procedure that requires an incision will leave a scar. However, Dr. Koehler takes great care to place incisions in areas that can be easily hidden.
When will I see my results?
You should notice an immediate improvement in the contours of your arms after your arm lift. However, swelling and bruising can camouflage initial results, and your results will continue to be refined as your body heals.
Expect to continue seeing gradual improvements in the contours of your arms over the next weeks and even months after your arm lift procedure.
How long does an arm lift last?
Arm lift results can be very long lasting. Maintaining healthy eating and exercise habits will help to prolong your results. However, the natural aging process may gradually cause skin laxity to become a concern years down the road, depending on your age when you had your arm lift, your lifestyle habits and other factors.