Why This Ugly Scar After 9 Months After a Brachioplasty, Can This Be Less Visible? (photo)

I use to be 250lbs lost a total of 100lbs in past 10yrs by exercising & dieting. I didn’t like to wear short sleeves dress because of my loose skin. The doctor remove 1 lbs from each arm and I still have wobbly arms. I cry every morning and night when I see myself in the mirrors & this nasty scar – I think I would of saved my money and stay the same since not much different after the surgery, what can be done? Can the doctor fix this? I was expecting a thin scar. Please help!

Doctor Answers 7

Scar after brachioplasty

Brachioplasty or arm lift surgery is one of the most frequently requested body contouring procedures performed today. The demand for this procedure has increased more than 800% since 1997. This is the greatest percent change of any of the commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedures Much of the increase in popularity is due to the growing number of patients who undergo massive weight loss. In performing this procedure an incision is made on the inside of the arm extending from the elbow into the armpit. Sometimes it is necessary to extend the incision further into the armpit and sometimes past it. Utilizing this incision excess skin is removed and the wound is closed. It is very important to position the scar properly so that it is concealed as much as possible. A well-placed incision should result in a scar that is only visible when the arms are raised. This operation is normally performed as an outpatient. It is very important for the surgeon to discuss the resultant scar thoroughly with the patient preoperatively. Very commonly this scar takes a longer time to undergo the full healing and maturation process. Maturation refers to the process whereby the scar becomes less apparent. Brachioplasty scars commonly take up to 2 years to fully mature. It is reasonable to expect a year scar will continue to improve up to approximately 2 years. Good luck

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 112 reviews

Visible scar after brachioplasty

This scar could be improved.  It would be better if it was a little lower and narrower.  There may have be tension that caused it to widen and now the tissue has had a chance to relax so the revision should give a more favorable result.

Kenneth L. Stein, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
3.4 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Arm Lift Scar

Thank you for your question and photos.

First of all, you should be congratulated on losing so much weight.  Armlifting surgery does assist with removal of excess skin and fat of the arms but there is a tradeoff (meaning the scar).  Scars can be revised to try to achieve a finer line but I suggest that patients wait at least 1 year post op before proceeding with scar revision surgery.  The scar will continue to heal 12-18 months after surgery, it will continue to improve and lighten in color.  If after 12-18 months you are still unhappy with the scar, have a conversation with your surgeon in regards to the scar revision surgery.

Best Wishes!

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Scarring Following Brachioplasty

                  It’s important that patients have realistic expectations when undergoing brachioplasty. This procedure is effective in removing excess arm skin, but does have several limitations including the potential for severe scarring.

                  Your pictures and history suggest that you’ve undergone a significant weight loss and that this was accompanied by the development of noticeable upper arm skin sag. Your pictures also demonstrate pronounced improvement in your contour which would be considered reasonable for this type of procedure.

                  It’s important to understand that the arm has bone and muscle which can’t be reduced and must have adequate coverage. Efforts to tighten the skin to much can result in wound breakdown and scar spread. For this reason, wounds should never be closed under too much tension.

                  In addition, severe scarring isn’t uncommon with brachioplasty. The severity of scarring is frequently related to the patient’s biologic wound healing characteristics. Unfortunately when this occurs scars on the upper arm aren’t easily hidden.

                  Wound healing continues for 12 to 18 months following this type of procedure. Your scars appear to be red and at nine months will still have the potential to improve. Massage, silastic and topical agents can be utilized to minimize scarring, but if they aren’t effective scar revision may be necessary.

                  It’s important that you discuss these issues with your plastic surgeon. It’s also important to realize that the healing process takes time and that this type of surgery always involves a series of trade- offs. 

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

Scar after Brachioplasty

Thick scars are very common after brachiplasty. Aside from my patients using silicone gell such as Biocornium (no disclosures) I offer a deep Erbium YAG treatment as well as injection of kenalog to improve the scars. If that is unsuccessful, I suggest scar revision with surgery.

Jacob Freiman, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 268 reviews

Thin Scars Following Brachioplasty Exceptional Rather Than Common

The scars resulting from a brachioplasty or arm lift tend to be visible and noticeable, especially in massive weight loss patients.  I do several things to minimize these scars but still attempt to warn my patients of the possibility of a noticeable scar.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Armlift Scar after 9 Months

Scars after brachioplasty do take a long time to improve, typically at least 1 year. If you are unhappy with the result, discuss it with your plastic surgeon but chances are, it will get better.

Karol A. Gutowski, MD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 68 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.