The passage of time isn’t kind to the human body. But some areas can better deal with the passing years. Our upper arms are not one of them. As we age, and especially if we’ve gained and then lost a good deal of weight, the slackening musculature and support tissues in our upper arms aren’t getting the job done.
The result is loose, hanging skin fully on display when we wear sleeveless blouses or sundresses on a hot Houston summer day. The looseness can become extreme enough that the skin can swing back and forth with arm movement.
Fortunately, an arm lift with Dr. Barrera can tighten your upper arms, making you thrilled to put on that sleeveless blouse once again.
Am I a Good Candidate for an Arm Lift?
The upper arms are unique in that they are at the mercy of gravity. There’s nothing beneath the skin and tissue on the underside of the arms to give them the support other areas of the body enjoy.
Plus, when you gain weight in your arms and the skin becomes stretched, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to get this skin to tighten back down again when you’ve taken the extra weight off.
Even genetics can play a role, as some women are prone to more skin and muscle loosening in their upper arms than others.
Is this a good procedure for you? That depends on how you feel about your upper arms. If the loose skin and muscle on the underside of your upper arms moves back and forth when you shift your arm, an arm lift could correct that. If you’ve consciously been avoiding showing your upper arms because of the loose skin, then this could be a good surgery for you.
It is important for a candidate to be at or near her ideal weight. This procedure is not intended for weight loss in the arms. In fact, if you gain and lose a fair amount of weight after having an arm lift, you can develop loose skin all over again.
It’s also important to consider that this procedure creates a lengthy incision. The scar lightens quickly and becomes far less visible, but it will still be there.
How Will Dr. Barrera Evaluate Me for an Arm Lift?
Dr. Barrera treats every consultation, whatever the procedure, as a complete give and take exchange of information between the two of you. You’ll open, explaining what’s bothering you about your upper arms and what you hope to achieve with an arm lift. You’ll explain your medical history. Did you gain and lose weight previously?
Then it’s Dr. Barrera’s turn. First, he’ll examine your upper arms, ascertaining the amount of loose, sagging skin. He’ll check for pockets of fat that are contributing to the sagging. He’ll see if you could be a candidate for a minimal-incision arm lift, rather than a full arm lift. This would only be the case if you don’t have extensive sagging skin.
Then he’ll explain what he thinks would work well for your goals and situation. He’ll explain the procedure, its risks, and what you can expect during recovery. He’ll give you an idea of what your contoured, slimmer upper arms will look like after your surgery and recovery.
Throughout the process, he will encourage any and all questions from you.
How Is an Arm Lift Performed?
This procedure involves a lengthy incision; this is unavoidable. Dr. Barrera usually makes an incision that runs on the underside of the upper arm, running from the underarm to the elbow. Through this incision, he is able to remove excess fat pockets with liposuction. He then repositions and tightens the underlying muscle tissue, and trims away excess skin.
As mentioned above, Dr. Barrera may be able to avoid the need for the lengthy incision with a minimal-incision technique. In this method, he makes a few small incisions near the underarm, in lieu of one long incision on each arm. This method, while creating much less scarring, doesn’t allow the same degree of overall tightening. For most patients, especially if they’ve spent lots of time poolside in the Houston sun, a traditional arm lift is the only option to achieve the slimmer upper arms they seek.
What Are the Risks Involved with an Arm Lift?
This is a surgical procedure, so it involves the same risks as with any surgery: excessive bleeding, poor wound healing, potential infection, and the like. Due to the lengthy incision required, it’s important to follow Dr. Barrera’s recovery instructions to the letter and to not place any stress on your incisions. This will ensure the incisions heal smoothly and cleanly.
Otherwise, this is a low-risk procedure. The upper arms involve large muscles and limited nerve exposure, so tightening the area up is a relatively straightforward procedure. Our patients from across the Houston area are very satisfied with their results from these procedures.
The goal of Dr. Barrera and his surgical team is to make your surgical experience as easy and as comfortable as possible.
If you are a smoker, you will be asked to stop smoking well in advance of the surgery. Certain medications that increase the risk of bleeding such as Aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and some vitamins/homeopathic regimens should be discontinued prior to surgery. If your hair is short, you may want it to grow out enough to cover your incisions while they heal. Any chemical processing of your hair should be performed prior to surgery since you cannot have any of these procedures for a month of more after surgery. If your arm lift will be performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home and stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.
Day of Surgery
Dr. Barrera performs all aesthetic surgery procedures at his our Accredited Ambulatory Surgical Facility (AAAASF) under IV sedation & local anesthesia, without the need for general anesthesia (painless during and minimal pain afterwards). This provides added safety and faster recovery. Most patients are able to go home within an hour from the end of the 4 to 5 hour procedure with minimal discomfort.
It is important to realize that the amount of time it takes to recover from surgery varies greatly between individuals. Elevation of the head is extremely helpful in reducing the initial post-operative swelling. Dr. Barrera may also advise you to use ice packs intermittently. You should avoid aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for the first few days after your surgery. Smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke should be avoided to prevent delays in the healing process.
Once the dressings and drains are removed, puffiness and discoloration may be more pronounced in some portions of the face than others. Do not be alarmed by any unevenness or temporary asymmetry – this is normal. Most swelling is usually noted in the first 24 to 48 hours, and most bruising resolves within 2 weeks. Concealing makeup is usually permitted after the first week. You may experience numbness to the face post-operatively, which usually resolves within several months.
Some patients find that mild swelling persists for many weeks.
Most stitches are removed within a week of the surgery. Straining, bending, and lifting should be avoided during the early post-operative period as these activities may predispose you to bleeding.
Dr. Barrera will give you specific instructions that may include caring for the dressings and incisions, directions for your analgesics and other medications, specific concerns to look for, and when to follow up in the office to monitor your healing process. It may take several months for the swelling to fully resolve, and up to 6 months for the incision scars to fully fade. Avoidance of factors that could reduce the benefits of the surgery, such as excessive unprotected sun exposure and cigarette use, is vital.
Results of Your Arm Lift
The results of your arm lift may be subtle or dramatic, depending on your appearance prior to the surgery as well as the specific goals that you and your plastic surgeon have established. Since the healing process is gradual, you should expect to wait several weeks for an accurate picture of your “new look”. Additional minor changes or settling may occur over several months following your arm lift surgery.