Most patients who are considering having an arm lift have lost a considerable amount of weight either through bariatric surgery, diet and exercise or both resulting in sagging skin on many areas of their bodies, including the upper arms.
Lose the Weight First
In these cases, it is generally best to wait until you have lost the vast majority of the weight that you are planning to lose or at least until most of the fat is gone on your arms. If the surgery is done before you lose most of your excess fat, once you lose the rest of it your arms may sag again though not normally to the extent that they did prior to surgery. This does not mean that liposuction cannot be performed on your arms at the same time as an arm lift is performed, however, you can generally lose more fat on more areas on your upper arms that what can usually be removed via liposuction. In addition, when you lose the fat, it comes off of the entire arm circumferentially, whereas with liposuction, only the lower half of the upper arm is treated as viewed with the arms extended ninety degrees out to the side.
Good candidates are also those whose weight has stabilized for about six months after their weight loss. This ‘time off’ from losing weight allows your metabolism to get out of the ‘fat reduction’ mode and into a better nutritional status where you have a positive nitrogen balance which is important from an immune standpoint for wound healing and fighting infections. In most of these cases, a blood test usually done to determine if the patient is in positive nitrogen balance prior to surgery.
Be Mentally Ready
The best candidates are also in a good frame of mind going into surgery with realistic expectations with respect to their recovery, predicted outcome and subsequent scars. Arm lifts are usually the third or fourth procedure that massive weight loss patients go through after a tummy tuck, breast lift and possibly a thigh lift. As they have seen the results of their previous procedures, they generally have a good idea regarding what the surgery and recovery entails.
The ideal candidate for an arm lift is also someone who is active and otherwise healthy without significant medical issues. Drains are sometimes placed in the upper arms to limit blood and fluid collections in the area of surgery; often times, the decision whether or not to place drains is made in the operating rooms. The presence of drains does not delay the recovery from surgery; they are typically removed within a few days of the procedure in the office when the first or second dressing change is done.
After the initial bandage is removed, an arm sleeve is applied to help reduce swelling and to apply an even compression to the arm as it heals. It is important to wear this religiously as recommended by your surgeon. If the surgery was combined with another procedure, the garment may be a vest, an abdominal binder or an entire body suit depending on what areas of the body were treated. This can be removed for an hour or two each day for washing or simply to give the patient a break from wearing it.