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Post Weight Loss Brachioplasty Washington DC

Post Weight Loss – Brachioplasty (Arm Lift) Washington DC

The upper arms can present an area of major concern for anyone who has undergone weight loss, because arms that have significant excess skin are often tight in fitted sleeves.  In summer months when short sleeve shirts and tank tops are commonplace, patients with redundant upper arm skin often feel self-conscious, preferring to camouflage them rather than wear cooler clothing. 

Brachioplasty is the term used to refer to arm contouring procedures.  It may include liposuction alone, skin excision alone, or a combination of both.  In patients who have undergone weight loss, liposuction alone is typically not an option as there is too much excess skin remaining that needs to be removed.  If a small amount of redundant skin is present, then an ellipse of skin can be excised in the armpit area (axilla).  This avoids a scar on the inner aspect of the upper arm.  This limited brachioplasty is often combined with liposuction of the remaining portions of the upper arm.

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Most patients who have lost significant weight benefit from a full brachioplasty which includes removal of skin from the entire upper arm region and the axilla.  In order to create a more natural appearing axilla, the excision of skin may extend down the side of the chest, removing some loose skin on the sides of the breasts.  The scar is usually a worthwhile tradeoff for smaller, shapelier arms.

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Post Weight Loss Surgery

The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis with general anesthesia.  This may be scheduled in conjunction with other body contouring procedures depending upon the patient’s overall goals and at the surgeon’s discretion.  The patient is first marked in an upright position prior to entering the operating room, and the proposed skin to be excised is outlined.  Following surgery, the patient is wrapped in lightly applied ace bandages.  The operative dressing is changed at the first post-op visit.  Patients typically wear a compression garment for one month following surgery.

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Post Weight Loss Recovery

The recovery period for a brachioplasty ranges from 1 week for a limited brachioplasty to 3 weeks for a full brachioplasty.  Patients typically elevate their arms for the first two weeks, during which time driving should be avoided.  While each patient is different, most are back to full activities by 3-4 weeks and many patients are back to their normal exercise program by 4-6 weeks.  It is important that patients wear a compression garment when exercising for the first two months following surgery.

Scar massage can begin 3-4 weeks postoperatively.  Scars are initially red and raised, but flatten and fade over the course of year.  Also during this first year, the final arm shape will be achieved.  If any revisions or touch-ups are necessary, they typically will be performed at 9-12 months following surgery.

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Post Weight Loss Risks and Complications

Risks and complications are uncommon, but may occur.  They include, but are not limited to: bleeding, infection, asymmetry, wound separation, skin loss, fluid collection under the skin (seroma) requiring drainage, injury to nerves or blood vessels, prolonged or permanent numbness and/or swelling, unfavorable scarring, scar migration, and need for revision in the future.

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