Cannot raise arms completely after Smart Lipo to upper arms and have big, hard bulges. Is this normal? (photos)

I had Smartlipo to my upper arms 2 weeks ago. I have not been able to reach above my head since(left arm is worse) It feels like my skin is splitting! I have terrible swelling around my elbows and forearms. I've also recently noticed my arms have large, strange shaped,very hard bulges. My procedure was the 1st week of Sept, and I'm getting married mid Nov. They assured me I would be perfect by then. Is this normal? I really don't want to bother my PS with all of my daily concerns. Please help!

Doctor Answers 6

Post liposuction

The lumpiness, swelling, itching and hardness after a surgery like you had typically persists at least 8 weeks after the surgery then slowly goes away. In my experience, daily massage of the hard areas makes the biggest difference in getting rid of it sooner rather than later. Staying away from salt will make a big difference in swelling. It can easily take 6 months or more to see results. Be sure to keep any scheduled follow up appointments you have with your surgeons for his evaluation and advice. Hope this helps.

Dean Vistnes, M.D. 

Vistnes Plastic Surgery 

San Francisco Bay Area

#liposuction #drdeanvistnes #realself

Bay Area Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

You should be able to raise your arms above your head

you have a moderate amount of swelling but this will get better with time. you will continue to improve from your Smartlipo for over 6 months. 

i personally think you need to push yourself harder to get your arms fully extended above your head. you will not burst apart. Smartlipo does not affect muscles or tendons, so you are just feeling the tightness due to the swelling. 

you should not be shy about emailing or calling your surgeon (hopefully a plastic surgeon who is board certified) - we are happy to answer our patients concerns and questions. 

david berman md

David E. Berman, MD
Sterling Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 109 reviews


Thanks for your question. The inability to raise your arms is more than likely due to the swelling- that is very normal. Being that you only did the procedure this month, you will need a couple of more months before the swelling vanishes entirely, and up to 6-9 months to see final results. You should always speak to your doctor before a procedure like SmartLipo and the time frame to a special event. Hope this helps. Best, Dr. Kat

Bruce E. Katz, MD
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
3.8 out of 5 stars 17 reviews


first of all I think your surgeon is the best person to answer all your concerns. having said that, its too early to say anything about your final outcome. it takes months to see results form SmartLipo. for my patients who are seeking arm definition on a short notice I prefer not to use SmartLipo and it takes 2-3 weeks for them to see the full results. but again, thats my technique and I can't speak for other surgeons. bets would be to get in touch with your own doctor and address your concerns that way  

Misbah Khan MD, FAAD, FACMS
New York Dermatologic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

#liposuction #plasticsurgery

Hello J2285, thank you for your excellent question. Congratulations on your recent surgery. Your photos are very helpful, however without the benefit of knowing your full health history and an in person exam it's impossible to say for certain. Your concerns are important to discuss directly with your board certified plastic surgeon.  He or she will appreciate the open communication and will want to help you.  If you decide to seek a second opinion, consult with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon in person, preferably one who has these credentials: *Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery - the gold star symbol
*A member of the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons) - the circle symbol
*A member of the ASAPS (American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons) - the Queen Nefertiti symbol with a Triangle.   Hope this is helpful and wish you all the very best. Kind regards, Brian Coan, MD, FACS  CARE Plastic Surgery

Brian Coan, MD, FACS
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 58 reviews

Swelling/Lack of Arm Movement/Post Smart Lipo--Swelling is Normal--Thermage

It sounds like the swelling is making it difficult for you to raise your arms. Swelling is normal this soon after your surgery. It'll take up to several months before you see your final results. Best, Dr. Emer

Jason Emer, MD
Los Angeles Dermatologic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 190 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.