There are a number of options for arm contouring, which are carefully combined and chosen depending on each patient’s arm and goals. Concerns may be related to arm size from fat excess, age-related laxity, or changes related to massive weight-loss. For discrete areas of fat excess without skin looseness, liposuction is an excellent choice. More commonly, however, liposuction is combined with skin tightening techniques.
If the skin looseness is mostly towards the axilla, then a short-scar brachioplasty may be performed, hiding the scar within the axilla. More commonly the laxity extends beyond this limited area, often up to or beyond the elbow. To fully contour the entire arm, a traditional brachioplasty incision from the elbow to the axilla can be done. I take great care to optimize the location of the scar so that it is not visible from the front or the back with the arm down by the side, as well as keeping the scar as thin and flat as possible.
In cases of massive weight loss, the laxity often continues to the axilla and upper back. For full contouring an extended brachioplasty that goes from the elbow to the axilla, and then down the side of the chest. This allows for maximum contouring with the trade-off of a longer scar. As mentioned above, liposuction is often combined with all of the above skin-contouring techniques to address residual areas of fat excess.
Many patients and surgeons are dissatisfied with the tradeoffs of the scars and downtime associated with brachioplasty, and have concerns about recovery time and anesthesia. A relatively new option for skin contouring is via thermal energy using BodyTite. Small access incisions are used for liposuction as well as for the BodyTite probe. BodyTite allows for precise energy delivery to the skin and deeper tissues. In response to this heat and energy, the skin and tissues shrink and contract, providing contour that was before only possible with long scars and surgery. BodyTite can be performed awake with local anesthesia only (or with sedation if preferred) with minimal downtime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Cost - Brachioplasty can range from $4000 to $8000 depending on the chosen technique.
Am I a candidate for brachioplasty - If you have concerns about the size or shape of your arms, particularly due to age or weight loss you may be a candidate for brachioplasty or arm contouring. In addition it is important that you are at or near your desired weight, being weight-stable for at least 3 months. Smokers are counseled to quit at least 6 weeks before and after surgery. Also patients should be of good health to tolerate elective surgery and anesthesia if considering operative procedures.
Recovery Time - Arm contouring is an outpatient procedure. Liposuction and/or BodyTite has a short recovery time, with most patients able to return to work in 2-3 days and full activity in 2-4 weeks. Brachioplasty patients often return to work in 3-7 days, with full activity in 6-8 weeks. All patients are instructed to wear a medical compression sleeve for 6 weeks to control swelling.