Thursday, May 30, 2013

What to do about excess arm skin?

As bariatric surgery becomes more mainstream, more and more patients are requesting arm lifts.  

When there is excess skin there are only 2 choices - accept it or cut it away.

As more and more people shed 50, 70, 100 pounds or more, the big question remains what to do with all the excess skin on one's arms. 

The first brachioplasty or arm lift was described in 1930, however the first written description of a cosmetic brachioplasty was in the 1950’s.  In 2010 surgeons performed 15,183 brachioplasties.  This was about a third more than what was performed in 2000.  

Most brachioplasties are combined with liposuction.  It is an outpatient procedure with minimal discomfort.  Patients in my Fort Myers, FL, plastic surgery practice usually can shower in 24 – 48 hours.  

Potential complications are hypertrophic scarring, fluid collection or seroma,  dehiscence or wound separation, infection or hematoma or a collection of blood.  

In my experience the biggest one is hypertrophic scarring.  No matter where you cut or whoever makes the cut, there will be a scar.  But, when I see potential brachioplasty patients they have such a large excess of skin and fat that surgery is really their only option.  It is done as an outpatient with a little I.V. sedation so there is no pain.  

The incidence of hypertrophic scars is probably less than 10-12%.  When all is said and done they are glad they did it.

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