Who Is a Good Candidate?
Brachioplasty is a procedure used to reduce the excess skin in the underarm and armpit areas. It is commonly performed if someone has a lot of excess skin after weight loss, but can also help improve "crepey" skin in the inner arms in individuals as they age. If there is a component of excess fat as well, patients can benefit from liposuction in addition to removal of excess skin at the same time.
The surgery is done under general anesthesia in an ambulatory surgery center, and typically takes 1 1/2 - 2 hours. The incision for brachioplasty is usually on the inside surface of the arm from armpit to elbow, but there is also a "short scar brachioplasty" which only involves an incision hidden in your armpit. Only certain specific patients are good candidates for the short scar brachioplasty, as this does not always give the more dramatic results that people are looking for. For the full length scar, the incision is hidden in the bicipital groove which is the line on the inner part of the upper arm where the biceps line is visible. Skin and fat is taken, and sometimes liposuction is done at the same time to contour the arm further. Drains are usually not used. Incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures, and outer dressings consist of ACE wraps or a compression garment.
Recovery involves wearing compression 24/7 for 4-6 weeks, as well as no overhead reaching or stretching of the arms for at least 2 weeks but more ideally 4 weeks. The longer patients can avoid reaching or motions that stretch the scars, the less visible the scars will be over time. Since arms are used a lot in everyday life, and armpits have a lot of nerve endings, this procedure is one of the more functionally difficult ones to recover from.