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Brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift, is a cosmetic procedure to improve the appearance of the upper arms. It is performed using a variety of techniques, depending on the amount of fat deposit and skin laxity.

For patients with fatty arms but without or minimal loose skin, liposuction is recommended. This involves aspirating fats via a suction cannula inserted through a small, 3-4mm incision made on each arm. This day surgery is performed under either local anesthesia or intravenous sedation. Post-operation, special pressure garments are worn for 6 weeks.

For patients with flabby arms with noticeable excess skin, brachioplasty that involves excising the loose skin altogether is the best option. Based on the level of skin laxity, brachioplasty can be done in two ways:

Minimal to Moderate Loose Skin: With hidden-incision brachioplasty, the surgical scar is concealed within the armpit crease for a cosmetically pleasing result. No suture removal is required as absorbable stitches are used. However, drain bottles are inserted under the skin and kept for 1-2 days immediately following the surgery to drain excess fluids. This method is performed under intravenous sedation.

Moderate to Severe Loose Skin: This requires traditional brachioplasty, with the scar running down the inside of the arm. The scar placement is carefully planned such that it will not be visible when the patient carries out normal activities, and only be apparent upon raising the arms. This is the procedure of choice for patients who have previously undergone massive weight loss.

Possible Risks and Complications of Brachioplasty

Standard risks apply with brachioplasty, including:

  • bleeding
  • infections
  • scarring
  • wound dehiscence
  • adverse reaction to anesthesia

Rare complications include asymmetry and changes in skin sensation.

Post-Procedural Care

Post-procedure, the wounds should be kept dressed for 2-3 weeks. Patients should also avoid lifting their arms above shoulder level for at least 2 weeks. To manage discomfort and prevent infections, painkillers, oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicines are prescribed. Scar management, including anti-scarring creams and tablets, may be recommended. Patients may also be started on laser for scar lightening if necessary.

Dr Leo Kah Woon is a Ministry of Health-accredited plastic surgeon in Singapore who is well-versed in performing Brachioplasty surgeries. Find out more about the procedure at +65 6733 3895.