The risks and potential complications of having an arm lift are very similar to those of many other cosmetic surgeries.
Bleeding is a risk with an arm lift as it is with any kind of surgery. To reduce the risk of bleeding and bruising, it is recommended that you stay away from any type of medication that can thin your blood for at least two weeks before surgery. Your surgeon should give you a list of these, which can be very extensive and includes things like aspirin, ibuprofen, fish oil and vitamin E.
Infection is also a common risk with surgery. Most patients will receive an intravenous dose of an antibiotic right before their procedure and may be on oral antibiotics for just a few days.
Unfortunately, scarring is one of the bigger concerns with an arm lift because, with most lifts, it extends from the armpit (axilla) to below the elbow and may also include the lateral chest. Usually the scars become fairly fine lines but can get thick and hard (hypertrophic scarring) in some patients and this is more common if the skin edges separate. Most patients having an arm lift have very thin skin in that area which makes it more difficult to close the skin without external sutures which can make the scars worse. You should keep your arm motion to a minimum for the first week or two after an arm lift to avoid tension on the incision.
Seroma is a risk with many post-bariactric procedures such as tummy tucks, arm lifts and thigh lifts. These occur because of an interruption of the flow of lymph fluid in the area treated. This fluid then backs up into the tissue causing swelling and sometimes clear drainage form the incision and may require aspiration, drainage or surgical removal. A seroma can also become infected which may require antibiotics, drainage, etc.
You will have an opportunity to discuss risks with the anesthesiologist prior to surgery. It is very important that you not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before surgery. Smokers have a higher risk of pneumonia after general anesthesia as well as skin loss due to lack of blood supply caused by the combination of surgery and nicotine. This includes secondary smoke, which must be avoided as well.
Blood clots can form in the leg veins after prolonged immobilization or surgery. These can be very serious as they can break off and go to the heart or lungs. You will get an injection of a blood thinner right before surgery and you will have compression boots or stockings on your legs during surgery and in the recovery room. It is important for you to get up and walk frequently after surgery to avoid blood clots.
There are other risks as well associated with elective plastic surgery. To reduce the risk of problems after surgery, it is important to carefully follow your surgeon's advice and instructions both before and after surgery.