WHY? While some people are able to tone their upper arms by weight training, others find the tissue in their arms has relaxed and descended too much – due to age, genetics, weight loss or a combination of these – to fix through exercise. A brachioplasty (arm reduction) can help to tighten loose skin.
HOW? Liposuction can be used to get rid of excess fat in the upper arms but a brachioplasty is the most common procedure. It’s an operation to remove excess fatty tissue and skin from the upper arms in order to improve their shape and contours.
The operation is usually performed under general anaesthetic and takes about two hours. An incision is usually made from under the armpit, down along the underside of the arm to the elbow. Excess tissue and fat can then be removed along
the inner arm. The wounds can be stitched using dissolving sutures.
Brachioplasty is not suitable after having a mastectomy, after an operation on the lymph nodes in the armpit, or for people who are prone to infections of the sweat gland.
You may need to wear a compression garment after the operation to help minimise swelling. A small tube is sometimes placed under the skin to drain excess fluids. Bruising and swelling after the procedure usually lasts one to two weeks and during this time, heavy lifting should be avoided. You will probably be able to return to work and start exercising again after this period, although it’s advisable to build up gradually.
Improvement in the contours of the arm are usually apparent immediately after brachioplasty – but to maintain the benefit, patients need to maintain their weight, as large weight gain can lead to the need for repeat surgery. There will be visible scars after surgery but these are likely to fade over time.
Complications are uncommon, but you will be exposed to the risks that apply to surgery in general, including an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic. Other possible risks include swelling of the arm, infection, bruising and bleeding. Nerve injury at the site of the incisions can result in numbness.
Cost: between £3,000 and £4,000
‘After arm surgery, you’ll have a scar running right down the back of it. The dressing may be quite extensive, with elastic supports. You’ll need to protect the incisions, so avoid heavy lifting. Elevation with pillows will make you more comfortable.’
‘I can’t wait to show off my arms!’
Katie Southwell, 41, opted for surgery after major weight loss left her with saggy upper arms
‘I gained a lot of weight having kids. I fought long and hard to lose it and finally succeeded – so I was dismayed when I was left with loose skin on my arms. They looked awful and I hated them.
‘My father knew how self- conscious I felt about my arms and very kindly, he gave me the surgery as a birthday gift. ‘After some research, I decided to go to consultant Angelica Kavouni’s clinic, as I trusted her to do a good job. Angelica warned me about scarring but I didn’t care – I just wanted to be able to show my arms with confidence.’I'm thrilled with the results. I feel like a young woman again.
‘Scarring can be a problem as not everyone heals in the same way but luckily, mine virtually disappeared after a year. Now, I’m looking forward to summer when I can expose my arms with confidence again.’