LIFT THOSE ARMS (arm lift)



A Publication of Skin Deep World
Written by Boris Ackerman, M.D.

An attractive appearing upper arm signifies youth, fitness and vigor. Unfortunately, as we age, gain or lose a few pounds, this part of our body starts to show the passage of time and the signs of weight fluctuation. Until recently, arm lift surgery was reserved for people who had large amounts of loose skin as a result of significant weight loss, either through dieting or through weight loss surgery. This type of surgery typically requires a rather long incision on the upper, inner arm that can certainly be seen (from certain angles) when one wears short sleeves. Even though this incision fades with time, plastic surgeons have been hesitant to perform this type of surgery on patient with limited looseness in their upper arms. The perception was that the extent of scarring could not be justified in cases with only limited arm looseness.

As plastic surgery techniques have evolved, a new approach to arm rejuvenation surgery has developed. In the beginning, some patient with arm looseness that also had a significant amount of excess fat in the upper arms were treated with judicious tumescent liposuction. Liposuction resulted in some modest overall improvement in the arms. Unfortunately, if too much fat is removed, the skin looseness can be worsened. This can create arms that are even more floppy. On the other hand, if only a little fat was removed with liposuction, no significant overall improvement in arm appearance was achieved.

The Limited Incision Arm Lift surgery combines the beneficial effects of tumescent liposuction with the surgical removal of some excess skin form the upper arms. The difficult part was designing an incision that could be nicely camouflaged. The ideal place to hide an incision is in the crease of the arm pit. This incision tends to heal nicely over time and leaves a nearly imperceptible scar. Unfortunately, this surgical technique can not be applied to all loose arms. The plastic surgeon has to select appropriate candidates for this procedure. A person who has too much skin looseness will have only minimal improvement in the appearance of their arms. The ideal candidate for this procedure is a patient with a moderate amount of excess fat and moderate amount of skin looseness. By combining liposuction with this Limited Arm Lift, the plastic surgeon can create significant improvement in the overall appearance of the arm, which no visible incisions on the arm itself.

This procedure requires that the plastic surgeon be quite comfortable operating in the deep anatomy of the arm pit. The success of this procedure, in no small part, relies on suspending the incision on the deep supportive fascial tissues of the arm pit, otherwise, the anatomy of the arm pit can be distorted, and the lift would not be effective. As always, pick your plastic surgeon carefully. Make sure she or he has performed a significant amount of standard arm lift surgeries, and at least a few limited arm lift procedures. Do not be reluctant to speak to the plastic surgeon’s prior patients who have had this type of surgery performed.

The Limited Incision Arm Lift is performed on an outpatient basis. Typically, there is very little discomfort with this surgery. Even thought full range of motion of the arms is limited for a few weeks, the patients are able to return to most of their normal activities within a few days. Driving a car and returning to office work is permitted after four to five days. The scar is typically well-hidden in the arm pit and it typically fades quite nicely after about a year.


Article by
Newport Beach Plastic Surgeon