Brachioplasty is a surgical procedure that removes unwanted loose skin and fat from the upper arm, often from the level of the inner aspect of the elbow to the axillae (armpit).
This surgery may be considered if you have lost significant weight and have loose hanging skin on the upper inner arm.
For some people, the upper arm area has loose hanging skin for reasons other than weight changes. Regardless of the reasons, Brachioplasty surgery aims to remove this excess skin.
Please note that individual results will vary depending on the individual, their genetics and lifestyle factors, and all surgeries have associated risks. Before proceeding with any surgery, it is advisable to seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified medical practitioner such as a Plastic Surgeon. Dr. Gary Avery (MED0001633092) a registered medical practitioner, with specialist registration in Surgery – Plastic Surgery. Dr Avery is also a member of the two leading professional associations for plastic surgeons in Australia, Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). Their websites provide additional information regarding plastic surgery in Australia that you might find useful, please visit ASAPS and ASPS.
Brachioplasty surgery is often considered with other surgical procedures referred to as body contouring surgery. This includes a variety of surgical procedures that remove unwanted skin and soft tissue from many parts of the body that can become problematic after significant weight loss.
Patients considering any form of body surgery will need to come in for a consultation with Dr Avery to discuss your expectations, along with the surgical options for how these can be achieved. During your consultation with the Avery team, we will ensure that the surgery you are considering is the appropriate choice for you.
At Avery, we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with surgery. Our patients’ stories matter a great deal to us.
Wherever you are on your personal journey, we would like to assist you. Your reasons for having surgery and your expectations from surgery are important conversations to have before undergoing surgery. Dr Avery will also assess your health and medical history to ensure any surgical procedure you are considering is a safe and appropriate choice for you.
Your Brachioplasty / Arm Lift
Your GP or another specialist that knows you well must make a referral to Dr Avery. The decision to have a consultation may be made after talking with family or friends or following your own research into plastic surgery and Dr Avery.
The purpose of your initial consultation with Dr Avery is to discuss your motivations for surgery and expectations from surgery. It is an opportunity to openly communicate what you want to change, alleviate or remove. We will discuss any concerns you may have about your potential surgery and its outcome. We will also collect information that is specific and tailored to you, to add to the knowledge you acquired through your research outside of the consultation process.
When you arrive at Avery, you will check in with our Care Team and complete a medical history form, if not already completed. We encourage you to bring a supportive family member or friend who can remain with you throughout the consultation if you like, and be a sounding board during your decision-making process following the consultation.
The consultation with Dr Avery will include an examination of the area of your body that you are concerned with and considering changing. Our aim will be to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and if so, what specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.
Plastic surgery procedures can impact physical appearance and there may be a psychological response to the changes in your body after surgery. Besides the reasons for having plastic surgery, it is important to be fully aware of any potential limitations of the operation and how they apply to your unique situation. This includes the risks of having surgery and all of the possible complications that can occur after surgery, and what can be done if these occur.
We will discuss what the surgery involves, how it relates to you specifically given your uniqueness and current state of health, what the possible risks of the surgery are, and then decide if having the surgery is a safe and appropriate choice for you as an individual.
Your consultation will also include a discussion of the estimated financial implications of having this surgery or surgeries that were discussed with Dr Avery.
After your consultation, our Care Team will be there to talk through any further questions you have, including the cost of the surgery.
At Avery, our goal is to ensure you are equipped with the knowledge needed for you to feel empowered throughout the decision-making process, surgery and post-surgery.
Brachioplasty is performed in an accredited hospital under a general anaesthetic. The incision and subsequent scar for arm lift surgery is generally made on the inner aspect of the arm at the level of the elbow up to the armpit. Depending on the amount of excess skin and tissue to be removed, the incision and subsequent scar may be extended onto the chest. The incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures that do not need to be removed.
The length of the surgery will depend on the amount of tissue removed and whether or not additional procedures such as other body contouring surgeries are performed.
As with all surgical procedures, brachioplasty surgery does have risks, despite the highest standards of practice. It is not usual for any surgeon to outline every possible side effect or rare complication of a surgical procedure. However, it is important that you have enough information about the most common risks to fully weigh up the benefits, risks, and limitations of surgery.
The following possible complications are listed to inform and not to alarm you. There may be other complications that are not listed. Smoking, obesity, and other significant medical problems will cause greater risk of complications.
Some general risks and possible complications of surgery include, but are not limited to the following:
- Heavy bleeding from an operated site. This may require a blood transfusion.
- Infection that may require treatment with antibiotics or further surgery in some cases.
- Allergic reaction to sutures, dressings or antiseptic solutions.
- The formation of a large blood clot (haematoma) beneath an incision site may require further surgery.
- Complications such as heart attack, pulmonary embolism or stroke may be caused by a blood clot, which can be life threatening.
- Pain, bruising and swelling around the operated site(s).
- Slow healing, often related to smoking or diabetes.
- Short-term nausea following general anaesthesia and other risks related to anaesthesia.
- Tissue cannot heal without scarring and that how one scars is dependent on individual genetic characteristics. Dr Avery will do his best to minimise scarring but cannot control its ultimate appearance.
- Smoking or using nicotine products during the 3–4-week pre-operative and post-operative periods is prohibited as these could dramatically increase the chances of complications.
- All medications I am currently taking, including prescriptions, over the counter remedies, herbal therapies and supplements, aspirin, and any other recreational drug or alcohol use can affect the safety of my surgery.
- There can be no guarantees about the results of any surgery.
Some specific risks for brachioplasty surgery include, but are not limited to the following:
- Scarring that might be significant
- Seroma (fluid collection under the skin
- Asymmetries of contour
- Swelling and/or lymphedema
- Problems with circulation and displacement of adjoining tissue
- Change in sensation or numbness of the skin
- Recurrent laxity of skin
- Changes in shape or appearance, or arm and axilla hair
- Need for more surgery for surgical corrections (revision)
- Further recovery time if further surgery is required
- Delayed healing
- Hematoma (blood clots under the skin)
- Disappointment or dissatisfaction with result
- Extended hospital stay
- Loss of skin from insufficient circulation (requiring further surgery and skin graft)
- ‘Dog ears’ (excess skin at scar end)
- Displacement of the axilla
- DVT (deep vein thrombosis) – clot in legs or PE (pulmonary embolus) – clot in lungs
- Allergic reactions to tape, suture material, topical preparations, medications
The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) has further information about arm lift surgery including the possible risks for this surgery.
One or two nights in hospital are generally required following an arm lift to aid with your recovery. Depending on the complexity of the surgery and any additional procedures, 2-4 weeks off work may also be recommended.
There will be some bruising and swelling, which generally subsides about 2-6 weeks after the operation. You will be required to wear a compression garment or bandages for approximately 6 weeks to provide support and reduce post-operative pain or swelling.
A customised pain relief program will be created for you and issued before you leave the hospital. If circumstances change at any stage during the recovery period, then the pain medication or follow up appointments can be adjusted accordingly.
The financial aspects of your surgery are as important as the medical elements when planning for surgery. At Avery, the surgeries we offer fall into three different financial categories: Self-funded – aesthetic surgery; self-funded – plastic and reconstructive surgery; and health insured – plastic and reconstructive surgery.
To make sense of these three financial categories, we have created a detailed price guide to help you understand what may or may not be covered by your health insurer/Medicare and your out of pocket expenses.
For more information or to book a consultation, please contact our team on 02 4002 4150.
Brachioplasty / Arm Lift FAQs
The best time to proceed with any body contouring surgery, including arm lift surgery, is when your weight loss is mostly complete, and your weight has been stable for several months. If you have had surgery to help achieve weight loss, you may be required to wait at least one year before body contouring surgery.
It is possible to have a consultation regarding potential surgery during your weight loss journey, i.e., before your weight loss has stabilised.
Yes, (brachioplasty) arm lift/reduction surgery will result in some visible scars. Typically, this is on the inner aspect of the arm from the level of the elbow to the armpit. Dr Avery will limit scar length and try to position each scar in the least conspicuous position. Nonetheless, scars may be more noticeable than you anticipated. It is important that you have realistic expectations of the surgery and that you discuss potential outcomes with your surgeon.
Gentle and limited use of the arms informed by change in pain or discomfort should guide arm use after surgery, lifting nothing more than a few kilos for 2-3 weeks following surgery. With time, increased use and increasing weight will be possible, as comfort allows.
Recovery is an individual and typically non-linear process. Typically, you will need to be careful with how you use your arms and what you lift for 6 weeks after surgery. The typical pattern is gradually increasing use over 4 weeks with close to normal function by 6 weeks, guided by pain and swelling.
Recovery is an individual and typically a non-linear process. You will most likely be walking straight after surgery. Generally, by 4 weeks post-surgery some higher intensity movement is possible with regular use of arms any time after 6 weeks, being guided by any change in discomfort or swelling.
Typically, if your surgery is considered cosmetic in nature and does not have a related item number, private health insurance does not cover this surgery. If the surgery is being considered to address significant developmental differences, changes from previous trauma, or to relieve nasal obstruction, then a Medicare item number may apply to the surgery and there may be some cover of this procedure through private health insurance.
Sun exposure can adversely impact early wound healing and have an adverse effect on the pigmentation and long-term quality of you scar(s). All scars should be protected from sun until they are mature, which may not be until one-year post-surgery. A spray tan is okay after a few weeks (once the wound is healed).
Pain following surgery will vary depending on the extent of surgery. Pain immediately after surgery may be reduced by the use of local anaesthetic at the surgical site given during the surgery. The pain will also be managed with tablets or injections as required. Physical measures such as the dressings and supportive garments as well as limited movement and possibly ice packs will all help minimise any pain. Pain is usually well tolerated within a few days after surgery with all these measures. If your pain is increasing following surgery this is usually a sign that you may need a review to ensure your recovery is proceeding as expected.
Dressings and supportive garments will offer support to the wounds and the areas of your body that are still recovering. You will be also be advised to restrict excessive movement of the surgical area in the first two weeks after surgery. A good general rule throughout your recovery is if an increase in movement or activity does not increase any discomfort or swelling, then it is probably safe and this gradual progression back to ‘normal’ will be encouraged.
Thigh Lift / Thigh Reduction
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Your initial consultation
During your initial consultation we welcome the opportunity to have an open conversation with you to understand the changes you are looking for with your surgery and talk through any concerns or specific goals you may have.
Your initial consultation will include an examination of the area of concern and we'll work with you to determine if plastic surgery can achieve what you hope it will, and which specific plastic surgery procedures will address your concerns and meet your expectations in a realistic way.