Brachioplasty or Arm Tuck is a cosmetic plastic surgery procedure which just like any other plastic surgery procedure carries certain possible risks and potential complications.
As Brachioplasty is designed to remove excess hanging arm flab, it is not meant to be a surgical treatment for obesity. Overweight individuals who intend to loose weight should postpone all forms of body-contouring surgery until they have reached a stable weight.
There are several different techniques used by plastic surgeons for brachioplasty. Brachioplasty can be combined with other forms of body-contouring procedures, including liposuction, or other elective surgeries. Your plastic surgery may require the transfusion of blood products; however, this varies on a case-by-case basis.
Brachioplasty is an elective surgical operation. Alternative forms of management consist of not treating the areas of loose skin and fatty deposits. Liposuction surgery may be a surgical alternative to brachioplasty if there is good skin tone and localized fatty deposits in an individual of normal weight. Diet and exercise regimens may be of benefit in the overall reduction of excess body fat. Risks and potential complications are also associated with alternative surgical forms of treatment.
Every surgical procedure involves a certain amount of risk and it is important that you understand these risks and the possible complications associated with them. In addition, every procedure has limitations. An individual’s choice to undergo a surgical procedure is based on the comparison of the risk to potential benefit. Although the majority of patients do not experience these complications, you should discuss each of them with your plastic surgeon to make sure you completely understand all possible consequences of brachioplasty.
Bleeding- It is possible, though unusual, to experience a bleeding episode during or after surgery. Intraoperative blood transfusions may be required. Should post-operative bleeding occur, it may require an emergency treatment to drain the accumulated blood or blood transfusion. Do not take any aspirin or anti-inflammatory medications for ten days before surgery, as this may increase the risk of bleeding. Non-prescription “herbs” and dietary supplements can increase the risk of surgical bleeding. Hematoma can occur at any time following injury. If blood transfusions are needed to treat blood loss, there is a risk of blood-related infections such as hepatitis and HIV (AIDS). Heparin medications that are used to prevent blood clots in veins can produce bleeding and decreased blood platelets.
Infection- Infection is unusual after surgery. Should an infection occur, additional treatment including antibiotics, hospitalization, or additional surgery may be necessary.
Change in Sensation- It is common to experience diminished (or loss) of skin sensation in areas that have had surgery. It is rare to experience permanent changes in sensation in the hands and forearms after brachioplasty. Diminished (or complete loss of skin sensation) may not totally resolve after brachioplasty.
Skin Contour Irregularities- Contour irregularities and depressions may occur after brachioplasty. Visible and palpable wrinkling of skin can occur. Residual skin irregularities at the ends of the incisions or “dog ears” are always a possibility as is skin pleating, when there is excessive redundant skin. This may improve with time, or it can be surgically corrected
Skin Discoloration/Swelling- Bruising and swelling normally occurs following brachioplasty. The skin in or near the surgical site can appear either lighter or darker than surrounding skin. Although uncommon, swelling (including the forearms and hands) and skin discoloration may persist for long periods of time and, in rare situations, may be permanent.
Skin Sensitivity- Itching, tenderness, or exaggerated responses to hot or cold temperatures may occur after surgery. Usually this resolves during healing, but in rare situations it may be chronic.
Sensation of Arm Tightness- After lifting the arm skin, there can be a sensation of the arm skin being tight. Usually this feeling subsides over time. Additional surgery may be required to correct this problem.
Sutures- Most surgical techniques use deep sutures. You may notice these sutures after your surgery. Sutures may spontaneously poke through the skin, become visible or produce irritation that requires removal.
Fat Necrosis- Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die. This may produce areas of firmness within the skin. Additional surgery to remove areas of fat necrosis may be necessary. There is the possibility of contour irregularities in the skin that may result from fat necrosis.
Damage To Deeper Structures- There is the potential for injury to deeper structures including, nerves, blood vessels, muscles, and lungs (pneumothorax) during any surgical procedure. The potential for this to occur varies according to the type of procedure being performed. Injury to deeper structures may be temporary or permanent.
Scarring- All surgery leaves scars, some more visible than others. Although good wound healing after a surgical procedure is expected, abnormal scars may occur within the skin and deeper tissues. Scars may be unattractive and of different color than surrounding skin. Scar appearance may also vary within the same scar, exhibit contour variations and “bunching” due to the amount of excess skin. Scars may be asymmetrical (appear different between right and left side of the body). There is the possibility of visible marks in the skin from sutures. In some cases scars may require surgical revision or treatment.
Surgical Anesthesia- Both local and general anesthesia involve risk. There is the possibility of complications, injury, and even death from all forms of surgical anesthesia or sedation.
Asymmetry- Symmetrical body appearance may not result from brachioplasty. Factors such as skin tone, fatty deposits, skeletal prominence, and muscle tone may contribute to normal asymmetry in body features. Most patients have differences between the right and left side of their body before any surgery is performed. Additional surgery may be necessary to attempt to improve asymmetry.
Delayed Healing- Wound disruption or delayed wound healing is possible. Some areas of the arm may not heal normally and may take a long time to heal. Some areas of skin may die. This may require frequent dressing changes or further surgery to remove the non-healed tissue. Smokers have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.
Allergic Reactions- In rare cases, local allergies to tape, suture material and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents have been reported. Serious systemic reactions including shock (anaphylaxis) may occur to drugs used during surgery and prescription medications. Allergic reactions may require additional treatment.
Seroma- Fluid accumulations infrequently occur between the skin and the underlying tissues. Should this problem occur, it might require additional procedures for drainage of the fluid.
Shock- In rare circumstances, your surgical procedure can cause severe trauma, particularly when multiple or extensive procedures are performed. Although serious complications are infrequent, infections or excessive fluid loss can lead to severe illness and even death. If surgical shock occurs, hospitalization and additional treatment would be necessary.
Surgical Wetting Solutions- There is the possibility that large volumes of fluid containing dilute local anesthetic drugs and epinephrine that is injected into fatty deposits during surgery may contribute to fluid overload or systemic reaction to these medications. Additional treatment including hospitalization may be necessary.
Pain- You will experience pain after your surgery. Pain of varying intensity and duration may occur and persist after brachioplasty surgery. Chronic pain may occur very infrequently from nerves becoming trapped in scar tissue after a brachioplasty.
Unsatisfactory Result- Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained. You may be disappointed with the results of brachioplasty surgery. This would include risks such as asymmetry, unsatisfactory or highly visible surgical scar location, unacceptable visible deformities, bunching and rippling in the skin near the suture lines or at the ends of the incisions (dog ears), poor healing, wound disruption, and loss of sensation. It may not be possible to correct or improve the effects of surgical scars. Additional surgery may be required to improve results.
Deep Venous Thrombosis, Cardiac and Pulmonary Complications- Surgery, especially longer procedures, may be associated with the formation of, or increase in, blood clots in the venous system. Pulmonary complications may occur secondarily to both blood clots (pulmonary emboli), fat deposits (fat emboli) or partial collapse of the lungs after general anesthesia. Pulmonary and fat emboli can be life-threatening or fatal in some circumstances. Air travel, inactivity and other conditions may increase the incidence of blood clots traveling to the lungs causing a major blood clot that may result in death. It is important to discuss with your physician any past history of blood clots, swollen legs or the use of high estrogen birth control pills that may contribute to this condition. Cardiac complications are a risk with any surgery and anesthesia, even in patients without symptoms. If you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, or unusual heart beats, seek medical attention immediately. Should any of these complications occur, you may require hospitalization and additional treatment.
Long-Term Results- Subsequent alterations in the appearance of your body may occur as the result of aging, sun exposure, weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy, menopause or other circumstances not related to your surgery.
Metabolic Status Of Massive Weight Loss Patients Your personal metabolic status of blood chemistry and protein levels may be abnormal following massive weight loss and surgical procedures to make a patient loose weight. Individuals with abnormalities may be a risk for serious medical and surgical complications, including delayed wound healing, infection or even in rare cases, death.
Smoking, Second-Hand Smoke Exposure, Nicotine Products (Patch, Gum, Nasal Spray) – Patients who are currently smoking, use tobacco products, or nicotine products (patch, gum, or nasal spray) are at a greater risk for significant surgical complications of skin death, delayed healing and additional scarring. Individuals exposed to second-hand smoke are also at potential risk for similar complications attributable to nicotine exposure. Additionally, smokers may have a significant negative effect on anesthesia and recovery from anesthesia, with coughing and possibly increased bleeding. Individuals who are not exposed to tobacco smoke or nicotine-containing products have a significantly lower risk of this type of complication. It is important to refrain from smoking at least 6 weeks before surgery and until your physician states it is safe to return, if desired.
Post-bariatric patients- It is highly recommended that you quit smoking before undergoing this procedure as it will adversely affect your outcome. Only under certain circumstances, clearly specified by your plastic surgeon, should this procedure be done on an individual who smokes.
Female Patient Information- It is important to inform your plastic surgeon if you use birth control pills, estrogen replacement, or if you believe you may be pregnant. Many medications including antibiotics may neutralize the preventive effect of birth control pills, allowing for conception and pregnancy.
Intimate Relations After Surgery- Surgery involves coagulating of blood vessels and increased activity of any kind may open these vessels leading to a bleed, or hematoma. Activity that increases your pulse or heart rate may cause additional bruising, swelling, and the need for return to surgery and control bleeding. It is wise to refrain from sexual activity until your physician states it is safe.
Mental Health Disorders and Elective Surgery- It is important that all patients seeking to undergo elective surgery have realistic expectations that focus on improvement rather than perfection. Complications or less than satisfactory results are sometimes unavoidable, may require additional surgery and often are stressful. Please openly discuss with your surgeon, prior to surgery, any history that you may have of significant emotional depression or mental health disorders. Although many individuals may benefit psychologically from the results of elective surgery, effects on mental health cannot be accurately predicted.
Medications- There are many adverse reactions that occur as the result of taking over-the-counter, herbal, and/or prescription medications. Be sure to check with your physician about any drug interactions that may exist with medications which you are already taking. If you have an adverse reaction, stop the drugs immediately and call your plastic surgeon for further instructions. If the reaction is severe, go immediately to the nearest emergency room. When taking the prescribed pain medications after surgery, realize that they can affect your thought process. Do not drive, do not operate complex equipment, do not make any important decisions, and do not drink any alcohol while taking these medications. Be sure to take your prescribed medication only as directed.
A Mayo Clinic study reported that minor complications arise in approximately 25 percent of Arm Lift cases.
These included: fluid collection under the skin (10 percent), poor scarring (10 percent), skin infection abscesses under the skin (2.5 percent) and wound separation (7.5 percent). Nerve damage was reported in five percent of the patients and prolonged numbness in one patient in the study. None of the patients required operative treatment for these complications.
Should complications occur, additional surgery or other treatments may be necessary. Secondary surgery may be necessary to obtain optimal results. Even though risks and complications occur infrequently, the risks cited are particularly associated with brachioplasty. Other complications and risks can occur but are even more uncommon. The practice of medicine and surgery is not an exact science. Although good results are expected, there is no guarantee or warranty expressed or implied, on the results that may be obtained. With brachioplasty surgery, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure. This may require multiple surgical sessions to produce a final outcome.
Follow all physician instructions carefully; this is essential for the success of your outcome. It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Personal and vocational activity needs to be restricted. Protective dressings and drains should not be removed unless instructed by your plastic surgeon. Successful post-operative function depends on both surgery and subsequent care. Physical activity that increases your pulse or heart rate may cause bruising, swelling, fluid accumulation and the need for return to surgery. It is wise to refrain from intimate physical activities after surgery until your physician states it is safe. It is important that you participate in follow-up care, return for aftercare, and promote your recovery after surgery.
Dr. Younai is a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with formal training in Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, as well as General Surgery and Surgery of the Hand & \ Upper Extremities at some of the most prestigious university residencies in the United States. As a cosmetic plastic surgeon he has had ample experience in performing Brachioplasty, Axillary Surgery, and Surgeries of the Upper Extremities. At the California Center for Plastic Surgery Dr. Younai will review your treatment options for Brachioplasty or Arm Tuck, including pros and cons of each procedure, potential risks and complications, recovery course, pre and post operative instructions, and esthetic outcomes. There are also many before-and-after pictures and high resolution images of Brachioplasty available in our photo gallery.
Dr. Younai performs his surgeries at the Regency Surgery Center which is certified by Medicare, AAAHC, and AAAASF.
Our center also includes the Regency Surgery Center which is a state-of-the-art outpatient surgery facility certified by Medicare and accredited by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC) and the American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Inc., (AAAASF).
Thank you for taking the time to visit our Web site. Our staff is always available to help answer your questions regarding any plastic surgery procedures and financing options, as well as with your travel to our center. Plastic surgery has truly become a way to better ourselves. It allows us to take control of our lives, and to give ourselves the body and look we always wanted, and truly deserve. Why not! We deserve the best.