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Brachioplasty - Arm lift

Brachioplasty, or arm lift, is a surgical procedure that corrects loose skin and excess fat on the upper inner arms, often referred to as ‘bingo wings' or 'bat wings'.

Bingo wings are a relatively common problem in a lot of patients. The condition arises from weight gain over time or sudden weight loss, as well through simple age-related changes. For a lot of women, especially those in their 40s and older, the upper arms can become an area of concern particularly during the summer months and on holiday, when they want to wear sleeveless tops and not feel self-concious. A Brachioplasty will restore a more toned youthful appearance to the upper arm by removing the loose skin and excess fat.

Most patients who come to see Mr Chana will require surgery to correct their condition, particularly if they have a predominance of excess skin under their upper arms. The procedure will involve an excision and tightening of the skin, resulting in a scar running down the inner aspect of the arm which can be of variable length depending on the extent of the problem. 

However, in certain minor cases where there is a predominance of excess fat rather than skin, the condition can be corrected by VASER® Liposelection which has an enhanced effect on skin retraction after fat removal.

Mr Chana will thoroughly examine you at the initial consultation stage and advise on the most suitable procedure for your condition.


The Brachioplasty arm lift surgery procedure

A Brachioplasty is carried out under general anaesthetic and takes approximately 2 hours. For most patients, a one-night stay in hospital will be required, although in some minor cases you may be treated as a day-case.

Before surgery Mr Chana will draw markings on your inner arms to determine the degree of fat removal and skin excision. He may also perform liposuction at the same time as the skin excision surgery to refine the results of his work.

The procedure itself is designed to leave the resulting scars as inconspicious as possible. They will be placed along the inner aspect of the arm so that when the arms are hanging down to the sides of the body, the scars will be hidden. The actual length of scarring will be discussed with you prior to surgery as it varies from patient to patient.

A supportive garment is applied after the surgery. 

The recovery following brachioplasty arm lift surgery

In most cases there is minimal discomfort after a Brachioplasty which can be easily relieved by mild painkillers prescribed by Mr Chana. Aspirin or aspirin-like medication (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory tablets) must not be taken.

After surgery, you should minimize arm movements and any lifting for a few days to reduce the swelling. Strenuous excercise or activity should be avoided for six weeks.

The compression garment will need to be worn for 3 weeks after surgery, day and night. There will be some degree of bruising of the skin, but it should resolve itself in 2 to 3 weeks. Occasionally there might be some puffiness of the forearm and hands which is normal and will settle down within a similar timeframe. There may also be some minor thickening of the tissues where the arm lift has been carried out, but this will soften and become smooth over the following months.

The scars can take between 12 to 18 months to fully mature.

To maintain tone and shape following Brachioplasty surgery, a regular routine of upper arm excercises is recommended.

The risks associated with brachioplasty arm lift surgery

Serious complications with Brachioplasty are rare. However as is the case with any surgical procedure, infection and bleeding are potential risks.

Some minor alteration in sensation in the skin can occur following arm lift surgery, although this usually returns to normal over time. Rarely there may be a small fluid collection under the skin called a seroma (even 2 to 3 weeks post-surgery) which sometimes necessitates aspiration in the clinic.

In rare situations, adverse or lumpy scars are sometimes a risk post-surgery; if they develop you may need further treatment. 

Delayed wound healing is a risk in smokers and therefore it is important to stop smoking as early as possible prior to surgery.

Mr Chana will provide you with a detailed information leaflet prior to your surgery.

Is an arm lift right for me?

An arm lift is suitable if you are concerned about the excess fat, or laxity, of your upper arm skin. Since the procedure leaves a scar, the decision to proceed with surgery depends on whether you feel the acceptance of a scar versus a tighter upper arm far outweighs the problem you are having with the loose skin and fat in this area.

How long and how visible is the scar from brachioplasty?

The degree of scarring is variable from patient to patient depending on the extent of skin laxity. In mild cases it will run about half way down the inner aspect of the arm. In other cases the scar can extend down to the elbow. Mr Chana will place the scar on the inner aspect of the arm so it is not directly visible. However, if your arms are elevated, the lower half of it can become visible. The scar can take 1 to 2 years to fully mature. In the best case scenario it should eventually heal as a very pale line.

I don't want a scar , can I have liposuction alone to the upper arms?

In mild cases of fat excess with good skin tone, liposuction may be suitable. However, if there is considerable skin laxity, liposuction can make the appearance of loose skin worse and so an arm lift will be more suitable. Mr Chana uses a procedure called VASER® Liposelection since this provides the best benefit in terms of skin retraction after fat removal.

Is arm lift surgery painful ?

The arm lift surgery is not very painful. There may be mild discomfort which is easily controlled with painkillers.

Surgery time
1.5 to 2 hours
Hospital stay
Day or 1 night
Time off work
1 to 2 weeks
Full recovery
6 weeks
Best results
3 to 6 months
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