Bulge at elbow after Arm Lift.

I am 2 weeks post armlift and one arm has a bulge at the elbow . My doctor tells me this probably will need a revision with liposuction . I am feeling very distressed won't lipo just leave me with sagging skin. Is there any hope this is only fluid and will resolve itself?

Doctor Answers 5

Arm lift brachioplasty Arm seroma Arm surgery after massive weight loss

This could be several things. It could be normal swelling, blood collection, or serous fluid collection. To me, this sounds like it could be a serous fluid collection or arm seroma. It would be very beneficial if you could provide a picture.  
Arms seromas are rare, but can occur after an arm lift or brachioplasty. Typically, arm seromas occur around the elbow. They are fluid filled cysts. Around the elbow, arm seromas can be the size of a small grape, but can become the size of a large golf ball. In other body parts, seromas can even become larger. If it is just an arm seroma, usually fluid aspiration and cyst removal will resolve the issue. Usually, the skin bounces back and no skin revision as needed.  If it is a large seroma, some skin will need to be removed. 

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 207 reviews

Contour Irregularity Following Brachioplasty

It's not unusual for patients to have contour irregularities near their elbows following brachioplasty. This can occur for a variety of reasons including swelling, inflammation and the wound healing process itself. In the majority of cases, these lumps and bumps improve with the passage of time. In other cases, lumps near the elbow may be related to excess skin and fat. Under these circumstances, revision brachioplasty or liposuction may be indicated at a later date.

It's important to realize that wound healing is a dynamic process which can last for 12 to 18 months. For this reason, it's important to be patient and give wound healing a chance. If your bump is still present after 4 to 6 months, a relatively minor procedure should easily address this problem. In the interim, it's important to maintain good communication with your plastic surgeon. Your surgeon should be able to get you through this experience and help you obtain an optimal result.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

There is less removed a the two ends of the ellipse

Hello. The pattern of skin removed in an arm lift is a long pointy oval-- called an ellipse.
The middle of it has more removed than the two ends- the armpit and the elbow. Added to this inherent issue is the fatty tissue at the elbow. So some liposuction can be added there to help the bulge shrink, and the skin over this may shrink too.
Good Luck.

Anne Taylor, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

2 weeks out - still need more time

Thank you for your question.

2 weeks after arm lift (brachioplasty) - you need to allow the edema to resolve. Gravity will often times pull the fluid toward the elbow. You really need to wait about 3 months before any revisions should be undertaken.

After a significant removal of upper arm skin, there is often some laxity left along the elbow. Liposuction can help remove any additional fat and should help to tighten the overlying skin.

Hang in there. Congratulations on your arm lift!!!

- Bryson G. Richards, MD

Bryson G. Richards, MD
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 291 reviews

Bulge at elbow

I didn't see any photos of your results thus far.  But after only 2 weeks it's hard to say that the result you see will be the final result. It could be fluid or blood but most likely a small amount of retained fat.   Try not to worry too much at this time.   Listen to your surgeon and when it's time some massage of the area may help.   Sometimes just a small revision of the scar and defatting of the area after 6 months will solve your problem if it doesn't correct on its own.   

Jeffrey Antimarino, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 56 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.