Often, as a result of a marked drop in weight, loss in tissue elasticity may occur at the level of the arms, with excess skin. Excess skin, particularly visible when the arms are raised or outstretched, extends from the elbow to the armpit; very often volumetric reduction of the arms can be obtained simply by means of liposuction. This is possible when the skin is sufficiently elastic and there is not too much adipose tissue to remove. If liposuction alone is not sufficient, a surgical resection of adipose tissue can be associated.
In this case dermolipectomy or arm lift surgery will be performed to reshape the arms. It is frequently performed in local anesthesia with sedation, but sometimes it can be performed under general anesthesia and involves the presence of a scar on the underside of the arm.
When it is recommended
Brachioplasty is performed in presence of cutaneous relaxation of the superior limb, a condition that is frequent in patients that have experienced a marked drop in weight or have undergone bariatric surgery. The defect is particularly evident with the arms raised or outstretched and the unpleasant appearance (the so-called "bat wings") can become a serious psychological problem.
Arm lift surgery, brachioplasty, allows to obtain an improved arm profile. If the amount of correction to perform is minimal, scars can have a minor extension starting from the axillary region. In some cases it may be necessary to perform a wider excision with scars that extend up to the elbow. This event may occur if patients have undergone bariatric surgery. The results are visible right away even if it is impossible to restore the firmness and tension of the skin typical of youth. The day of the surgery, the patient will have to submit to fasting (from midnight of the day before), without nail polish on their feet and hands and with an elastic garment recommended by the surgeon for the post-operative step.
Whenever, due to excess relaxed skin, a volumetric reduction of the upper limb through liposuction may not be sufficient, dermolipectomy or brachioplasty if performed. This involves the removal of enough skin tissue to recreate a harmonic and nice shape of the limb. The incision is made on the medial region of the arms and can extend from the elbow to the armpit, reaching sometimes the chest area. The surgeon will "unstick" the fatty skin tissue and remove excess skin. The scar resulting from the intervention will be concealed on the inside of the arm and therefore hardly visible.
At the end of the intervention the surgeon will provide some compressive bandage later to be replaced for an elastic garment that the patient will have to wear non-stop for approx. the next 4 weeks.
Post surgery treatment
At the end of arm lift surgery the patient will follow carefully their surgeon's instructions. Over the postoperative period, the patient will wear an elastic garment for 20 days will try to minimize any upper limb movements. Drainages are usually removed within the next 24 hours, depending on post-surgery course. It is advisable to have at least 15 days of rest until the stitches are removed trying not to wet the wounds. It is strictly recommended to avoid direct sun exposure over the first month after surgery and the next year and always apply SPF 50+ sun creamsonto the scars before exposure.
Possible risks and complications
Arm lift surgery, like all surgeries can have complications; these are rare, however, and in case any should occur, they can be treated and solved without hardly any risk to impair the final result. There are complications associated with anesthesia and others of surgical relevance. The risk of complications increases in diabetic patients with heart or lung disease. Anesthetic complications can be serious, but hardly ever occur in healthy patients. Surgical complications, too, are absolutely rare. They are hematoma, bleeding, seroma, infection and unaesthetic or pathological scars (Keloids) In case you have one or more postoperative complications, it may be necessary to have repeated dressings performed or undergo reconstructive surgery generally with satisfactory results.
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