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The surgeons at Cedars-Sinai's Center for Reconstructive and Plastic Surgery are skilled at brachioplasty, a surgical procedure to remove excess fat and to tighten loose skin under the upper arm. Patients generally seek brachioplasty due to weight loss, aging and the effects of gravity. The results can be dramatic and long term, including firmer, more youthful appearing arms.
Surgeons at the center perform brachioplasty with a focus on minimizing visible scarring, however, the incision must be made where tissue tightening is most effective. No two arms are ever symmetrical, so incisions are often made in slightly different locations. The goal is to have both arms appear the same after the procedure. The most skilled surgeons will perform the surgery taking into consideration arm movement and mobility.
The two-hour procedure is generally performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia. Patients will not be able to drive themselves home after the procedure.
Before surgery, markings are made to guide the incision. Surgeons create a zig-zag incision in the upper arm from the elbow to the axilla (armpit) and remove excess fat. Then, the skin is stretched, extra skin removed and the arm is stitched back together.
Minimal Incision Brachioplasty
If a person does not have too much extra skin or fat and the skin that they have is tight, they may be eligible for minimal incision brachioplasty. In this procedure, excess fat is removed in a liposuction-type technique.
This option reduces scarring because the incision, hidden in the arm area, need only be large enough to insert a tube to remove the excess fat.
Patients need to be aware that a brachioplasty scar is long and may be slow to heal. It may take as short as six weeks or up to one year before the scar is soft and flexible. It is common to have scabs for several weeks, as well as fluid under the skin flap.
Pain killers, either over-the-counter or by prescription, are used to manage the pain. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection.
Surgeons will provide the patient with instructions about the use of ice on the wound, positioning of the arm while healing and when normal activity can be resumed.