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When a patient has concerns about their arms, they often state that ‘the skin and fat hangs’, or the upper arms are too big. Many women say they are uncomfortable in public with short-sleeved shirts, or it is difficult to find clothing because their arm size forces them to buy significantly larger clothing. If you can relate to these complaints, you should consider having an Arm Lift. Otherwise known as a Brachioplasty, Dr. Lawrence Tong has significant experience with the procedure as he has treated many post-bariatric surgery patients while practicing in the United States.

What a Brachioplasty (Arm Lift) Accomplishes

A Brachioplasty aims to remove extra skin and fat in order to achieve a smoother, thinner, more proportional upper arm.

It achieves this through:

  • Liposuction of the fatty areas.
  • Direct removal of excess upper arm skin.

The result is a significant amount of fat and skin removal in the upper arm, starting at the elbow extending to the underarm region.

Who is a candidate for Arm Lift?

Good candidates for Arm Lift generally have loose, sagging, or excess upper arm skin as one of their main concerns. The skin change is often caused by prior weight gain plus weight loss, sun damage, age, or genetics.

  • Many patients have upper arms that are disproportionately large from the rest of their body (i.e. “fat arms”), and are seeking to be better proportioned.
  • Some patients have ‘floppy upper arms’, due to prior bariatric surgery, or significant weight loss through diet and exercise.
  • Another common patient is one who has noticed that with aging, the arm has become less toned, and there may be wrinkles that have developed on the upper arm skin.

Patients should generally be healthy and fit. Both young and old patients will present with this problem, and are eligible to undergo the procedure. Dr. Tong evaluates every potential surgical candidate to make sure that it is appropriate for him or her to have surgery.

Important Considerations for Arm Lift

Visible Scarring

The most important consideration with Brachioplasty is that it will leave an Arm Lift scar that starts in the underarm region, and extends to the elbow. There is some limited choice as to the specific area where the scar is placed on the upper arm, but it will be exposed to some degree when wearing short sleeves. Most people with loose skin are more than willing to exchange a scar for the loose skin. The degree to which the scar is noticed varies from individual to individual, and Dr. Tong counsels patients to accept the prospect a visible scar in short sleeves. Some patient use camouflage make-up to hide the scars, others do not feel the need, and are comfortable with the scar.

Skin Relaxation Often Occurs with Weight Loss Patients

Dr. Tong performs the Arm Lift by making the skin fairly tight (while achieving a safe, uneventful healing process), but there is always some relaxation to be expected a few months after surgery. Because the arm skin has lost its elasticity, there is a tendency for the skin to stretch out a bit after the Brachioplasty. The effect is that the initial tight appearance of the arm may loosen somewhat, but it will still be much better than the original appearance.

Incisions for Arm Lift

As mentioned previously, there is an incision that extends from the underarm to the elbow. The scar may either be placed on the inner surface of the arm, or on the back surface of the arm. At your consultation, Dr. Tong demonstrates these locations to you, and allows you to decide; both have their advantages and disadvantages.

A separate stab incision measuring 2-3 mm is made just above the elbow, on the back of the arm, for the purposes of Liposuction.

In some cases, a short scar Arm Lift technique may be utilized. Unfortunately, the majority of patients are not candidates for this technique, but it will be discussed, and offered to you if appropriate.

Arm Lift Procedure Details

Dr. Tong performs your Brachioplasty is performed under general anesthesia. Your surgery will take place in the CAAASF accredited operating rooms at 199 Avenue Road. The operating facility is conveniently located in the same building where Dr. Tong has his office, in Yorkville, Toronto.

Dr. Tong makes Arm Lift surgical markings (lines that he draws on you) when he sees you prior to surgery; the markings include the area of Liposuction, and the area of skin to be removed. Once you are asleep, Dr. Tong performs the Liposuction to reduce the bulk of the arm, and facilitate skin removal. Then he removes the skin, together with its attached fatty layer. Dr. Tong takes great care to remove just the right amount, so that the arm is neither too tight, nor too loose. The incision is meticulously stitched closed, and a dressing is applied. Dr. Tong completes the other arm in a similar fashion, and you are gently awakened from anesthesia.

Recovery from Arm Lift

Recovery from Arm Lift Immediately after Surgery

After Arm Lift surgery, our staff transfers you to the recovery room, where registered nurses monitor you, as you the effects of your anesthesia wear off. Once you meet the appropriate criteria for discharge, Dr. Tong allows you to go home, accompanied by your family member or friend.

Recovery from Arm Lift at Home

Once at home you should refrain from doing any type physical activity for the first week. Your arms are wrapped in a dressing and should be slightly elevated when you are sitting or sleeping. We recommend that you keep the arms propped on pillows, placed on either side. Elevation helps to decrease swelling of the arms and in turn, decreases discomfort, and increases the speed of recovery. Expect the arms to feel fairly tight and sore in the first 1-2 weeks. Bruising is mild and takes between 1-2 weeks to resolve. Dr. Tong generally allows to you to begin light exercise at 2 weeks. No exercises involving the arms are permitted until 4 weeks after the surgery. Dr. Tong prescribes narcotic pain medication; most patients use them for approximately one week after Brachioplasty.

Follow-up Visits after Arm Lift

When you see Dr. Tong at one week after surgery, he removes your dressings and takes out your stitches. He will re-wrap your arms in a removable dressing, which should be taken off when you take showers, and re-applied afterwards. You see Dr. Tong again at 2 weeks, 6 weeks, and 6 months after surgery, at which time Dr. Tong checks your how you are healing, and take photographs to document the progress.

Like any procedure, Brachioplasty has risks and complications associated with it. The risks are low, but do exist. At your consultation, Dr. Tong will go over the pertinent potential risks and complications associated with Arm Lift Surgery.

Get Educated about Arm Lift

It is crucial that you do your research about your potential surgery and surgeon. Dr. Tong has extensive experience treating post-bariatric surgery patients in dealing with excess skin from massive weight loss. During your Brachioplasty consultation, you will receive extensive information about the procedure. You will have the opportunity to view photographs of many examples of Dr. Tong’s work. He will make sure to answer all of your questions about Brachioplasty. It is our goal to make you an educated patient. We feel that an educated patient will make better decisions about their surgery, and their surgeon, too.

To learn more about how Toronto Arm Lift surgeon Dr. Lawrence Tong can help you with your Arm Lift goals, set up a consultation with Dr. Tong by giving us a call at (416) 972-0999. Alternatively, let us give you a call; just fill out our contact form and we will call you on the same or the next business day. No physician’s referral is needed.

Arm Lift (Brachioplasty) at a Glance

What the procedure does
Slims the arm by removing excess fat and/or skin through liposuction and direct removal
Duration of the result
Years to permanent
Length of time to perform the procedure
2.5 hours
Type of anesthetic most commonly used
general anesthesia
Length of time off of work
7-10 days
Time to get back to exercise
2 weeks light exercise, 4-6 weeks heavy exercise
Pitfalls your Plastic Surgeon should avoid
  • Removing too much skin, resulting in wider scars
  • Not educating patients about potential scar visibility