It’s still snowy, rainy, and cold in Michigan, but believe it or not, summer is around the corner, and you’ll soon trade your parka for short-sleeved shirts and tanks. Don’t let your arms stop you from soaking in the sun and enjoying the season — we can shore up the saggy portions with brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift.
For many years, our board-certified plastic surgeon, Rick J. Smith, MD, has helped folks throughout East Lansing, Michigan, boost their confidence and feel more comfortable in their clothing by reducing the sagging fat and skin on their upper arms. If you’re self-conscious about the loose flesh on your arms, here’s what you need to know.
Why do upper arms begin to sag?
Extreme weight loss is one of the most common reasons upper arms start to droop. Saggy arms are classic side effects of weight loss or bariatric surgery. A sudden significant decrease in fat leaves your skin with nothing to hold on to, so gravity goes to work, and your loose skin hangs.
Age is another factor in sagging arms. As you get older, your skin naturally produces less collagen and elastin, the two proteins responsible for your skin’s structure, strength, and stretchability. Your muscle mass and tone wane as well, and voila — saggy arms.
Genetics plays a role in your skin’s characteristics, too. If droopy arms run in your family, there’s a good chance it’ll also happen to you.
Understanding the arm lift procedure
Brachioplasty is a surgical procedure used to remove excess skin and fat from your upper arms. Although diet and exercise can help you lose fat in your arms, they can’t do anything about loose skin. Fortunately, an arm lift can.
Dr. Smith may recommend liposuction instead of an arm lift if your skin is still very elastic and has a good chance of shrinking back to size once he removes the fat. However, if brachioplasty is warranted, Dr. Smith performs one of two techniques, depending on the amount of tissue he needs to remove.
- Standard incision: an inner arm incision that runs from the armpit to the elbow
- Extended incision: runs along the back of the arm from the elbow, past the armpit, and into the torso
Dr. Smith may combine your brachioplasty procedure with liposuction for the best results.
You’ll see some of the results of your arm lift immediately — the sagging fat and excess skin are gone — but you won’t be ready to show off your arms yet. You will have post operative bruising and swelling for the first few weeks after surgery.
Although you can go back to work as soon as you feel able, you should avoid heavy lifting for several weeks.
When to consider an arm lift
If you’re reading this, you’re already considering an arm lift. But that doesn’t mean you’re a good candidate for the procedure. Before Dr. Smith performs brachioplasty, he evaluates your overall health, discusses realistic expectations, and examines your arms. One of the points he emphasizes is that you will have a scar after your incision heals. You will need to consider if you will be comfortable having a scar rather than the loose skin.
Dr. Smith also recommends reaching a stable weight before undergoing an arm lift. If you’re likely to lose or gain significant weight after surgery, your sagging arms may return.
Finally, as with any surgery, you must be a non-smoker in good health to get an arm lift.
To talk to Dr. Smith about whether an arm lift is right for you, contact us online or by phone to schedule a consultation now and get ready for summer.