Extra fullness on the back part of the upper arm can often be addressed with liposuction alone. The skin in this area usually remodels and retracts very well. In some patients, there can be an excess of skin or damaged skin due to stretching. In this situation, skin removal will also be required.
The skin removal is done on the inner aspect of the upper arm by James M. Shaw, MD, a board certified plastic surgeon in Wichita, Kansas. The resulting scar begins near the armpit and extends nearly to the elbow. A scar in this area is not very noticeable and patients find the trade off between skin improvement and scar presence is well worth it.
Small skin excisions that keep the scar close to the armpit have been tried in the past. Very little skin can be removed with this “mini arm lift” approach. Patients are typically not satisfied and often return for the more traditional surgery.
After surgery, there is not a lot of discomfort and most daily activities can be resumed a day or two after surgery. Vigorous exercise and strenuous arm activity should be avoided for the first few weeks.
Compression garments are not required. In fact, placing compression around the upper arm will cause increased swelling in the hands and forearms. Elevation and avoiding compression will help the swelling to resolve more rapidly. Some patients are more comfortable wearing long-sleeved exercise shirts that have Lycra or Spandex in them. This is an option, but not a requirement.
Showers should begin the day after surgery, but soaking the incisions in a pool or tub should be avoided for the first month.
Initially, the scars will be a little bit bumpy or uneven. This unevenness will smooth out over the first couple of months.