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 that physically removes excess skin of the upper arm.

When is a brachioplasty used?

A brachioplasty is best for people that 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 of 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 also discuss details of the operation, show you before and after photos and answer any questions you may have. Lindsay will then review surgical fees, financing options and answer additional questions. If you choose to have surgery, you will be asked to return for another consultation about two weeks prior to your operation. At this second appointment Dr. Maloney will review the surgical plan with you, walk through consent forms, take pre-operative photographs and give you your prescriptions. Lindsay will go over all of your surgical instructions and give you a packet of information so when you leave you are ready for surgery.

How do I prepare for a brachioplasty?

After meeting with Dr. Maloney and choosing a surgical date for your brachioplasty, you should plan for your care and recovery after the operation. You will need to arrange a ride to and from the surgery center the day of surgery and arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours. You should take 1-3 weeks off work for this operation depending on the type of work you do (speak to Lindsay, Dr. Maloney’s Clinical Coordinator 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 two weeks before surgery. We suggest 6-8 weeks, but two 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 causes bleeding, you should stop taking them three weeks before surgery because it causes increased bleeding and therefore more bruising. If you are taking any diet pills (prescription or over-the-counter) or Metformin (a common diabetes medication), you should stop one 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 pre-operative 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 around the house. You should also begin a stool softener as narcotic pain medication and anesthesia can make you constipated.

The morning of surgery you cannot have anything to eat or drink after midnight, this includes 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 get on and off. A shirt with no or very loose sleeves is best as you will have bulky dressing on your arms. Bring your photo ID when you check-in to the surgery center. You will be taken back to the pre-operating 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?

The brachioplasty takes about 2-3 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 roughly the elbow. The skin and extra tissue is removed and the incision closed with both dissolvable and non-dissolving sutures. A compression dressing is placed and 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, bruising and most importantly to hold your dressings in place. You may ooze some fluid from the incisions but this is normal. You should rest and eat a healthy diet high in protein to ensure a fast recovery time. 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 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 3-4 weeks to recover from this operation, so be patient during the recovery process. You may remove your dressings and shower 1-3 days after surgery depending on what the office tells you. You will return to the office for your first post-operative exam 1-3 days after surgery. A low-grade fever is not uncommon after any surgical procedure. If you have any questions during the recovery process, please do not hesitate to call the office any time day or night.

What are the benefits of a brachioplasty?

After the procedure the 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 the patient’s personal decision whether the benefits outweigh those risks. Common risks include scaring (potentially thick scars), bleeding, poor or 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.