Arms still large after lipo and bilateral arm lift. 5 days post op. What should I do?

Hi, I had lipo and bilateral arm lift 5 days ago. My problem is that my arms are still very large and still kind of hanging. Will they get smaller and tighter or is this size the end result. I know I will have swelling and afraid that after the swelling goes down.. My arms will be even more lose. I had a 14 in around arm and now a 12 inch around. I'm just afraid they are not tight enough and my be worse after the swelling goes down. Please offer some advice, thanks!

Doctor Answers 7

Post op from brachioplasty

You are still very early in the recovery process and it is much too early to determine the final result.  Discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon.  He/she will be able to give you a more informed opinion on what you can expect since they are fully aware of what transpired during surgery.  Try to be patient.

Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Will residual loose skin get tighter as swelling resolves?

No, you are right to be disappointed, and time will not make this better. But there is nothing to do now but wait and see how things turn out.

You did have two inches of extra skin removed, but this apparently is inadequate for the result you obviously hoped to achieve. This is not malpractice, nor negligence, but inadequate. A poor result. Perhaps inexperience or less than optimal surgical judgment. Not happy. Understandably upsetting.

There is nothing to do right now but follow instructions, heal up, resume life, and consider whether or not further surgical tightening (by another surgeon with better skills or judgment) is for you. I am sorry for your disappointment. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Brachioplasty swelling can resolve and leave more loose skin!

Hello! Your question is a good one. If your arms are swollen right after surgery, as the swelling resolves, will the skin be loose and hanging?  And there is no perfect answer-- this all depends on your anatomy and skin tone. If you have good elasticity, your skin should shrink. I would recommend being patient. And at this time, there  is not anything really to do but wait! Hang in there, and  in a few months the answer will be evident.
Good Luck.

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

Be Focus on Your Recovery After Your Arm Surgery

Hello , I understand your concerns , but it is too early too early to know the final result. In this moment be focus on your recovery. The first few weeks are the key to a good end result . Please follow the post operative instructions provided by your plastic surgeon. 

Alicia Sigler, MD
Mexico Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

Arms still large after lipo and bilateral arm lift. 5 days post op. What should I do?

Thank you for your question.  5 days is still way too early to make any judgement on your results.  There's a lot of swelling which would subside later.  In my practice, I have my patients wear compression garments and restrict arm activity after this type of procedure.  Be sure to communicate your concerns to your surgeon and get proper direction and instruction.  If you're still not happy at 3-6 months, you can always discuss the possibility of revision with your surgeon.  Good luck!

Zachary Farris, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

The toughest part is the wait!

I can imagine your concern and I hope I can provide you some information that will help ease your concerns! Usually, with almost any plastic surgery procedure, I inform my patients that patience is key! Typically after surgery there is so much swelling that patients may even feel like they are bigger than before surgery!!!!

When I perform an arm lift I almost always perform liposuction at the same time because I feel like I can achieve better results than with just an arm lift alone. The issue with performing liposuction and an arm lift at the same time however is that you have to put a lot more of the numbing solution (called tumescent) all throughout the tissues of the arm where liposuction is going to be performed. This solution helps decrease bleeding and pain. One can easily fit about 1/2 a liter of this solution in each arm!

When I perform this surgery, I make markings on how much skin I think I will be able to remove and then in the operating room I try and assess if I can remove even more skin then I marked. Sometimes I'm able to and sometimes I'm not.

Even with an arm lift alone, the arms will swell. Adding the tumescent into the tissues of the arm will lead to the arms being even more swollen. This swelling should all come down with time and when the swelling comes down, depending on your skin quality, your skin may contract (shrink) and then your arms may look smaller. Majority of swelling can take anywhere from 3-6 months to come down and this is why I remind my patients that patience is the key. Without fail, as time goes by, they start to notice the difference and there concerns are put to rest.

I have not seen your before photos and have not performed a physical exam on you, so I don't know what your skin quality was before hand and I can't assess the amount of fat present. You have to also remember that it is not only fat and skin that make up the size of our arms. There is underlying muscle, bone, arteries, nerves and many other structures that cannot be made smaller and are fixed in their size/thickness. This limits the amount of tightness one can achieve with the arms. I try and explain this to all my patients before this surgery.

Also, you have to remember that there are pros and cons to everything. If one removes too much extra skin and makes the arm really tight, this can potentially lead to wound healing issues and a very unsightly scar. I hope this helped. You should express your concerns with your plastic surgeon and maybe a discussion with him may also make you feel more at ease. I wish you all the best during your recovery!

Ankur Mehta MD 

Ankur Mehta, MD
Sugar Land Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Swelling after Arm Lift #armlift

  • 5 days after an arm lift along with liposuction is still VERY early in the postoperative recovery period.
  • Some patients' arms after brachioplasties tend to stay quite swollen for weeks after the operation.
  • Try to be patient for now as your arms still have a lot of healing to do before you'll see your final results. 
  • Also discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon.

Joshua Cooper, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 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.