PLASTIC, RECONSTRUCTIVE & COSMETIC SURGEON

Arm reduction

A brachioplasty or an arm reduction is a plastic surgical procedure that aims to remove excess skin and fat between the armpits and the elbows. It is appropriate for individuals who have undergone significant weight loss and as a result have excess skin and fat in this area. It is important that potential patients are in good general health and that weight is stable for at least a year.

What should I expect ?

An arm reduction is performed in fit and healthy individuals and takes approximately 2 hours. You will be admitted on the day of surgery and the procedure is done under a general anaesthetic. You will usually need to stay overnight although in some circumstances you may be able to go home the same day. The excess skin and fat is removed through an incision on the underside of the arm and the wound is stitched closed. Dressings are applied and a drain is usually inserted which is removed prior to discharge.

Occasionally the procedure is combined with liposuction to improve the overall outcome. There should be minimal post-operative pain which is easily controlled with oral pain killers. Full recovery usually takes between 4-6 weeks. Return to work will be dependent on the nature of your occupation and to exercise should be gradual. The scar quality from an arm reduction is generally good but requires 6-12 months to completely mature. During this period of maturation, the scars can be red and raised. Occasionally, scars can become lumpy and stretched.

What follow up will I have ?

You will be seen a week after your surgery to check that all is healing well and again at 3 months to ensure you are happy with the result.

What are the potential risks and complications ?

An arm reduction is a routine operation with good outcomes in the majority of patients however it is important to understand the risks and complications that can occur with an arm reduction procedure

Scarring : You will have a scar that runs from your armpit to your elbow on the inside of your arm, similar in position to a shirt seam. Scars can be red and raised initially but mature over a period of 6-12 months, eventually turning white and fading. Occasionally scars can remain lumpy or stretched

Asymmetry : There may be some asymmetry with occasional dog ears at the end of the scars. This can be revised under local anaesthetic if it is a problem

Haematoma : Some patients may bleed and develop a haematoma after transfer back to the ward. If this occurs, a return to theatre will be required to control the bleeding

Wound infection : During the healing process, wound problems such as infections may occur requiring antibiotics

Wound breakdown : Wound breakdowns are usually minor and can be managed simply with dressings. Larger wound breakdowns with skin loss are rare, but can be problematic and result in delayed healing and worse scarring

Seroma : Occasionally, fluid collections called seromas can occur which can simply be drained with a needle

Numbness : Patients usually also have an area of altered sensation or numbness around the scar which is permanent

General complications : A general anesthetic carries the risk of blood clots forming in the legs or lungs which are serious. Precautions such as blood thinning injections and compression stockings are used to reduce this risk.

Further information is available here in this Body Contouring guide

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