What is a brachioplasty?
This is a procedure which corrects loose skin and excess fat on the upper inner arms (otherwise known as ‘bingo wings’). This is a relatively common problem arising from weight gain or sudden weight loss or simply age related changes. If there is predominantly excess fat then liposuction on its own can be considered. However if there is predominantly skin excess then a skin excision and tightening is required. The scar from this procedure is of variable length depending on the extent of the problem and runs down the inner aspect of the arm. In some minor cases the use of Vaser liposelection can avoid skin excision and the resulting scars since Vaser has an enhanced effect on skin retraction after fat removal. Mr Chana will carefully examine you and advise you of the most suitable procedure at the time of the consultation.
What happens during the operation?
A brachioplasty is carried out under general anaesthesia and takes approximately 1 and a half hours to 2 hours. A one night stay in hospital is necessary although in some minor cases a day case stay may be sufficient. Before surgery Mr Chana will draw markings on inner arms which determine the degree of fat removal and skin excision. During the surgery excess skin is removed from the inner upper arm. The surgery is designed such that the scar is located along the inner aspect of the arm so that when the arms are to the side of the body the scars are hidden. The length of scarring will be discussed prior to surgery. It is quite common to perform some liposuction at the same time as the skin excision to refine the result of the surgery. A supportive garment is applied after the surgery.
What is the recovery?
There is usually only very minimal discomfort after this operation and this is easily relieved by mild analgesic tablets which will be prescribed. Aspirin or aspirin like medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets) must not be taken.
After surgery you should minimize arm movements and lifting for a few days to reduce the swelling. The compression garment will need to be worn for 3 weeks after the surgery. You should be aware that some degree of bruising of the skin may occur but will resolve in 2-3 weeks. Occasionally there will be some puffiness of the forearm and hands but this is normal and will settle within 2 to 3 weeks. There may be some minor thickening of the tissues where the surgery has been carried out but this will soften and become smooth over a few months. The scars can often take 12 to 18 months to fully mature.
What are the risks?
Serious complications of brachioplasty are rare. Infection and bleeding are risks of any surgery. Some minor alteration in sensation in the skin can occur but this normally returns to normal with time. Delayed wound healing is a risk especially in smokers and therefore it is important to stop smoking prior to surgery. Rarely there may be a small fluid collection under the skin (seroma) even two to three weeks after the surgery which sometimes necessitates aspiration in the clinic.
Mr Chana will provide you with a detailed information leaflet prior to surgery.