Dr. Taylor & Dr. Sullivan, Board-certified Aesthetic, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons and Arm Lift Specialists in Boston, Massachusetts
An Arm Lift (or Brachioplasty) has become an increasingly common and popular procedure. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, there were 17,338 arm lift surgeries in 2018 compared to only 338 in 2000.
This increase is fueled both by increasing demand, as well as advances that improve the procedure. Patients who suffer from extra skin hanging below the arms, either because of a genetic predisposition, or significant weight loss, this can be a rewarding procedure.
An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes extra skin and fat from the upper arm. This is most typically performed in patients who have lost significant weight, or who have a genetic predisposition to extra loose skin of the upper arms.
While liposuction is performed at the time of the procedure, brachioplasty is best suited to patients have extra skin, not extra fatty tissue. A limited brachioplasty can be performed with excision of skin in the armpit alone, but for most patients who have extra skin hanging below their upper arm, the so called “bat wing” shape, an excision is performed from the armpit to or below the elbow. As with almost all plastic surgical procedures, it is a trade of shape for scar. For patients who are happy to make this trade, a brachioplasty can significantly improve the arm proportions and contour.
Arm lifts or Brachioplasties are performed under general anesthesia as a day surgery procedure. The patient is marked in the standing position for the desired skin resection.
In the operating room liposuction is performed in the area of excision, and the extra skin is removed. Liposuction deflates the tissues and allows a more aggressive skin tightening. There are a multitude of designs for the skin resection. A limited brachioplasty, when only a small amount of tightening is required, can be performed with an incision confined to the armpit. Most patients with significant extra skin will require a long incision that runs along the undersurface of the arm, from the armpit to or below the elbow. During your consultation with Dr. Taylor & Dr. Sullivan, we can evaluate which technique will benefit you the most.
The ideal patient for a brachioplasty is someone whose upper arms have significant extra skin, and are disproportionate to their lower arms. Brachioplasty is not a good treatment for extra fatty tissue in the arm. The ideal patient should be at their lowest realistic weight, and in good health. Smoking is a contraindication to surgery. Because the scars of many brachioplasties are visible, patients must be willing to trade shape for scar. During your consultation, we will discuss your aesthetic desires and determine the course of action which is safest, and best suited to achieve your goals.
For many patients the removal of the extra arm skin provides tremendous relief. Not only do they look and feel better, they have improved mobility of their arms, and a wider array of clothing choices. Scars are inevitable, but it is difficult to predict how visible they will be, as everyone scars differently. Short term problems with wound healing are common, particularly in the armpit, but with simple wound care heal on their own. Some patients can experience numbness, though this is rare. Brachioplasy corrects the disproportion between the upper and lower arm, by removing extra skin. It is not a weight loss procedure, or particularly good at removing fat. As such, it cannot give someone incredibly thin arms if they have bigger arms to begin with. But for many patients it provides tremendous relief.
Yes. While all body contouring procedures involve trading shape for scar, in this case the scars can be more visible. For a limited brachioplasty, the scars are typically well concealed in the armpit. But for patients who require extensive skin resection the scar can run across the armpit and down the inner arm to or below the elbow. We try to keep the scar close to the natural groove on the inner arm, so that with arms at the side the scars are not very visible. Each patient may have slight differences in shape that dictate the positioning of the scar. While almost all scars fade over time, they will always be there. We will spend significant time deciding with you whether this is a good trade in your situation. For some patients a minimal improvement in shape may not be worth the scar, and we may talk you out of surgery. For others, where we anticipate a dramatic improvement in shape, it may be worth it to the patient to accept the scar.
The surgery is performed as a day surgery under general anesthetic and takes 2-4 hours. Dr Sullivan and Dr Taylor typically work together to expedite your care. We use lots of long acting numbing medicine which significantly reduces post operative pain. We will place you in a compressive dressing after surgery, and while you may have drains, we typically avoid them. The incisions are closed with dissolving stitches beneath the skin, and dressed with a surgical glue so you can shower within a day or two of surgery. The limited mobility in the arms is often what bothers people the most. For the first 1-2 weeks you won’t want to do anything strenuous with your arms. We encourage early ambulation, and arm elevation when possible. You will remain in a compressive dressing for several weeks. We typically like to see you within a few days of surgery to monitor your progress. Minor issues with wound healing, particularly in the armpit, are common, and often show up 1-3 weeks after surgery. These heal with simple wound care. The scars may take a full year or two to fully mature, and are likely to be pink and firm within the first few months. By 5 or 6 weeks if everything looks well healed you can go back to your usual activities.
If you would like to learn more about your options for an arm lift surgery in Boston, please contact us to set up your consultation with Dr. Taylor and Dr. Sullivan. While one doctor will be your primary surgeon, they usually operate together to optimize your care and safety.
They aim to provide thoughtful, individualized and honest advice. They perform surgery with precision, care and an emphasis on safety. For these reasons, they have been named among the best Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons in Boston by Boston Magazine yearly since they began practicing in the area. Excellence with compassion is the motto of Mount Auburn Hospital, which we aspire to maintain with every patient relationship.
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To schedule a private consultation with Dr. Taylor or Dr. Sullivan, please call the office or request an appointment using our form. We welcome your visit and your questions.
300 Mount Auburn St. Ste 304, Cambridge, MA 02138