Upper arms can be prone to sagging and becoming wobbly due to a number of factors including fluctuations in weight, genetics and age. Exercise can strengthen and tone the underlying muscle but does not help looseness of the overlying skin, which may require surgery in order to improve it.
An upper arm lift can reduce the excess underarm fat and skin and help to reshape the arm, giving smoother skin and contours. Liposuction on the arms is usually done at the same time, or occasionally as an alternative to an arm lift.
Patients with very good quality skin may have liposuction alone, but this is the exception rather than the rule. If you are in this fortunate situation then surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic through one or two small incisions. Patients with mild to moderate skin and fat excess may be suitable
More commonly there is also skin excess which is managed by excision surgery. This involves a T-shaped or curved incision from the armpit, continuing along the inside of the upper arm. The length of the scar varies depending of the exact contour that needs to be corrected, but can be as far as the elbow. The skin is closed with dissolving sutures and a compression garment used over the top.
Severe cases exhibiting a substantial amount of excess skin will only really achieve a good result by means of a surgical arm lift. However, if you have less severe skin excess with good skin elasticity then you may be suitable for liposuction or Coolsculpting, which are both techniques to address underlying fat excess without skin removal. Liposuction is performed under general anaesthesia whereas Coolsculpting is carried out awake in the clinic.
As with any cosmetic procedure it is imperative that you stop smoking at least two weeks before and after surgery. Your scar quality may also be affected by some medications, which we will discuss during your consultation.
It is important to be aware that this kind of surgery results in permanent scarring, which can be reasonably extensive. A great deal of effort is made to ensure it is as inconspicuous as possible, and most people consider the scar to be better than the original sagginess. I will show you representative photographs during your surgery to enable you to assess whether improved skin tightness outweighs the resultant scarring.
Anaesthetic: General Anaesthetic
Hospital stay: 0-1 nights
Surgery time: 1.5=2h
Time off work: 1-2 weeks
Reasonably mobile: next day
Washing: Keep dressings dry until one week wound check
Full recovery: Wounds healed by 1-2 weeks, swelling settled by 3-6 months
Driving: 2-3 weeks
Exercise: 4-6 weeks
Analgesia (pain relief) - Ibuprofen and paracetamol can be taken
Surgical skin tapes should be left in place until your one week check and replaced as directed thereafter.
The hospital or surgeon should be contacted if you develop a temperature or in rare cases of bleeding or rapid swelling.
Patients should take care not to over exert themselves in the first few weeks and to keep
pressure off the wounds.