Asymmetrical Swelling After Arm Lift?

I am 3 weeks out from an arm lift. I have been healing well - minor issues like a small hole in the right armpit and a yeast infection on both arms have resolved. I'm still wearing compression 24/7. I have tenderness in my right forearm, my surgeon said it is probably just nerve damage that will go away. My right arm is bigger (more swollen) than my left, and this is even evident comparing my wrists (one is 6 inches, the other 7.25 inches). Should I be concerned? FYI, I'm right handed.

Doctor Answers 4

Asymmetrical Pain and Swelling after Arm-lift

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These maybe separate problems or related to each other.  The swelling maybe normal postoperative edema vs. clots or damaged to the deeper vein structure of the arm.  Deep venous clots impair the blood return from your hand which could cause swelling and also the pain in your forearm and could be life threatening if the clots break and travel to your heart and lung.  Conversely, the tenderness in your forearm could be the result of nerve injury.  In the path of dissection during an arm-lift there are a couple of nerves that are at risk.  Please revisit your concerns with your surgeon.

Unilateral Swelling and Pain after Armlift

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     If there is a significant size difference between the extremities and associated pain, an exam followed by an ultrasound may be necessary to evaluate for blood clot.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Swelling Following Arm Lift Surgery

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It's not unusual for patients to develop swelling following brachioplasty. The swelling may occur for a variety of reasons, but is usually always transient in nature.

Occasionally, patients develop localized unilateral swelling of the arm. When this occurs, other causes should be considered including seroma and hematoma formation. When these conditions occur, drainage is often indicated.

For these reasons, it's important that you discuss this problem with your plastic surgeon so appropriate intervention can be undertaken if necessary. When this occurs, results are usually excellent, but failure to address these issues can result in complications including wound breakdown.

Asymmetrical Swelling After Arm Lift?

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Photos would help. If the wrist is really that much bigger I would be concerned about a possible blood clot in the arm veins.. Alert your surgeon who can decide if it needs to studied with an ultrasound exam. 

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

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.