Unable to Lift my Arms over my Head 5 Wks After Brachioplasty, Normal?

My left arm has good movement but my right arm is very sore and movement is limited when raising my arm over my head. How can I improve this? I have been massaging the scar and muscle area but nothing seems to work. HELP

Doctor Answers 5

Decreased Range Of Motion Following Brachioplasty

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Limited shoulder range of motion is unusual following arm lift surgery. This problem can occur for a variety of reasons including musculotendinous injuries, nerve injuries and scar contractures across the axilla.

When patients are unable to lift their arms over their head following brachioplasty, the problem is almost always related to axillary scarring. This problem occurs when an incision is made across the axilla. Exuberant scarring results in a flexion contracture which severely limits the ability to fully extend the arm.

When this situation arises, a variety of treatment options are available to treat this deformity. In some cases, range of motion exercises will adequately address the problem. In more severe cases, local rearrangement of tissue is necessary to remove the axillary scar web. In the majority of cases, this is accomplished with a procedure known as a z-plasty.

Patients who have axillary webbing following brachioplasty should consult their plastic surgeon. Their surgeon should be able to formulate a treatment plan that addresses this anatomic deformity and ultimately improves range of motion.

Minimal Arm Movement After Armlift

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This is a common concern patients have post-armlift surgery. It is best to contact your operating surgeon and address this concern you have. You will need to be examined and may be given a set of movements to do with your arms that may help this. It takes about 4-6 weeks on average to heal from this procedure, but any concerns you may have should always be heard by your surgeon as this is essential to your healing.

I have included a link below that may be of help to you. Best of luck.

Arm Lifting and Limited Range of Motion

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Thank you for the question.

There are many reasons why patients may have decreased range of motion of an arm 5 weeks after arm lifting surgery.  The diagnosis and treatment plan is best made by the operating surgeon who can examine you directly. Specifically, examination of the incision line/scar closest to the axilla will be helpful.

If everything is healing normally  range of motion exercises (crawling up the wall with your fingertips)  may be helpful. 

Please  continue to follow with your plastic surgeon.

Best wishes.

Unable to Lift my Arms over my Head 5 Wks After Brachioplasty, Normal?

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5 weeks post op you need physical therapy or an aggressive range of motion routine. Return to your operative surgeon for care and advise. 


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5 weeks after brachioplasty you should have healed by now. The limitation of motion of the arm can be due to many things. scars, frozen shoulder, swelling, muscle and nerve problems.

See your plastic surgeon once all these reasons are ruled out, you may benifit from physical therapy

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore 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.