Tucson Upper Arm Brachioplasty Skin Removal Surgery Information, Benefits and Risks

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What is a brachioplasty?

A brachioplasty is a surgical procedure to remove excess skin of the upper arm.

When is a brachioplasty used?

Brachioplasty is best for people who are young, healthy and within their normal weight range. This operation is good for people who have lost a lot of weight and have excess skin on the upper arm that needs to be removed.

What is involved at a consultation for a brachioplasty?

When you come in for your initial consultation, you will meet with both Dr. Maloney and Lindsay, the clinical coordinator. Dr. Maloney will examine you to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. He will discuss details of the operation, show you before and after photos and answer any questions you may have. Lindsay will review surgical fees and financing options with you.

If you choose to have surgery, you will return for another consultation about 2 weeks before your scheduled surgery. At this appointment, Dr. Maloney will review the surgical plan with you, go through consent forms, take preoperative photographs and give you your prescriptions for before and after the procedure. Lindsay will go over surgical instructions and give you a packet of information so when you leave the appointment, you will have everything you need for surgery.

How do I prepare for a brachioplasty?

After meeting with Dr. Maloney and choosing a surgical date for your brachioplasty, plan for your care and recovery after the surgery. You will need to arrange a ride to and from the surgery center the day of surgery. Arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours after you go home. Plan to take 1 to 3 weeks off work for this operation depending on the type of work you do (speak to Lindsay, the Clinical Coordinator, if you have any questions and for additional information). If your employer requires paperwork for time off, please obtain it ahead of time and bring it to our office.

If you smoke, you must quit a minimum of 2 weeks before surgery. We suggest 6 to 8 weeks, but 2 weeks is the minimum. Smokers heal slower and can have wound healing problems. Smoking may require adjustments to the surgical plan.

If you take aspirin, or other medication that may cause bleeding, you should stop taking them 3 weeks before surgery to reduce the risk of bleeding. If you are taking any diet pills (prescription or over-the-counter) or Metformin (a common diabetes medication), you should stop 1 week prior to surgery to avoid anesthesia risks. All medications, herbs, vitamins and dietary supplements you take should be carefully reviewed with Dr. Maloney prior to surgery. If you are under the care of a physician for any health issues, we may require surgical clearance from your physician and/or cardiologist.

At your preoperative consultation with Dr. Maloney you will be given a map to the surgery center and your prescriptions. Have these prescriptions filled before surgery so they are at home when you need them. You should find a few old towels to put on the bed, the couch and in your friend’s car on the way home from surgery, as you may ooze fluid after surgery through the incisions, especially if liposuction is performed at the same time. Be advised that this is not blood. Pick up a few bags of frozen peas or corn to use as icepacks after your procedure. You need to stay hydrated, so have plenty of water or sports drinks at home. Begin taking a stool softener because narcotic pain medication and anesthesia can make you constipated.

The morning of surgery you cannot have anything to eat or drink after midnight, including water. Take a shower and apply an antimicrobial soap to the areas you are having liposuction. Do not put any lotions, deodorant or make-up on the day of surgery. Do not wear any jewelry to the surgery center.

Wear comfortable clothes that are easy to put on and take off. A shirt with no or very loose sleeves is best as you will have bulky dressing on your arms. Bring your photo ID to check in to the surgery center. You will be taken back to the preoperating area where Dr. Maloney will discuss the plan again, answer any additional questions you have and mark the surgical site. You will also meet the anesthesiologist and ask him/her any questions you may have.

How is a brachioplasty performed?

Brachioplasty takes about 2 to 3 hours. The anesthesiologist will put you to sleep for this operation for your safety and comfort. Dr. Maloney will make an incision starting at your armpit, down the back (or inside) of your arm, to about the elbow. The skin and extra tissue are removed, and the incision closed with dissolvable and nondissolving sutures. A compression dressing is placed on the incision. You will wake up in the recovery room and be ready to go home in about an hour.

What should I expect after a brachioplasty?

You will wear a compression dressing over the surgical area to minimize swelling and bruising and to hold your dressings in place. You may ooze some fluid from the incisions but this is normal. Rest and eat a healthy, high-protein diet to help speed up recovery. You should also avoid alcohol and refrain from smoking. All surgeons recommend early and frequent ambulation after surgery to reduce the risk of blood clot formation in the legs and to speed up recovery time. It is not uncommon with this operation for you to have slow wound healing or for some of the sutures to break and the incision to open slightly. If this happens, call our office and we will most likely need to put a few more sutures in the affected area. Again, it is not uncommon, so don’t panic and go to the emergency room. This is something we can easily handle in the office. It takes about 3 to 4 weeks to recover from this operation, so be patient during the recovery process. You may remove your dressings and shower 1 to 3 days after surgery, depending on what the office advises. You will return to the office for your first postoperative exam 1 to 3 days after surgery. A low-grade fever is not uncommon after any surgical procedure. If you have any questions during the recovery process, please call our office any time, day or night.

What are the benefits of a brachioplasty?

After the procedure, excess skin will be removed from the upper arms.

What are the risks of a brachioplasty?

A brachioplasty has both aesthetic and health risks, and it is your personal decision whether the benefits outweigh the risks. Common risks include scarring (potentially thick scars), bleeding, slow wound healing, infection, asymmetry, excessive firmness, need for additional surgery or changes in skin sensation. There are also more uncommon, but complicated risks such as deep-vein thrombosis. For a full list of risks, go to plasticsurgery.org.