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What to Expect During the Recovery Period after a Brachioplasty

Brachioplasty, also known as arm lift surgery, is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess fat and skin in the upper arm. The targeted area is typically between the underarm and elbow, and a combination of liposuction and surgical excision is used to get the desired results.
The arm lift surgery can often provide patients with dramatic results, as their upper arms are transformed from saggy loose skin to more tone and leaner looking arms.

Arm lift surgery is typically done on a day stay or one night stay basis and most patients experience an uncomplicated and short recovery period. It is important, however, to understand that each patient heals differently. There are a number of factors that can contribute toward the healing time that a patient can be faced with, including overall health, tolerance for pain and of course the type of surgical technique that was used to achieve the desired results.

What to expect in the first week after surgery?

In the days immediately following surgery, patients will experience some pain. It should be light to moderate pain and most patients do tolerate it fairly well. The pain can often be well-controlled with prescription pain relievers and over the counter anti-inflammatory pain relievers.

The arms will be wrapped with a compression garment, which may decrease range of motion. The areas that were treated will have dissolving stitches. Patients may experience some swelling in their hands during these first few days. Results will not yet be visible, as a result of the swelling and bruising.

Limited mobility will mean that patients may have trouble with getting dressed, so it’s recommended that they wear loose button up shirts until they are able to better move. Bruising will likely be very apparent. And thus will generally resolve during the first two weeks.

What to expect a full week after surgery?

By this point, the pain should have subsided to the point where prescription pain medication is no longer necessary. Patients may benefit from some over the counter pain control medications if they still feel a little bit of tenderness. The swelling and bruising will still be visible but should be drastically reduced over what was seen in that first week. More mobility should now be possible, and patients should be able to return to work with some restrictions.

What to expect two weeks after surgery?

Patients will continue to see increased arm mobility but will still be warned against lifting anything too heavy. Most patients can return to normal day-to-day activities, and exercise should be limited to light walking at this stage. It is recommended that the compression garment be still worn at this stage to help eliminate post operative swelling.

What to expect four to six weeks after surgery?

Patients will now be able to better see the results of the procedure. At the six week mark, there should no longer be a need to wear the compression garment.

Patients who enjoy playing sports like tennis or golf may now be cleared at the six-week mark to return to these activities. A scar therapy plan is often implemented, and may include scar creams that will help to reduce the severity of the incision sites.

What to expect six months after surgery?

Patients should see the final results from the surgery by this point. Scarring should be noticeably reduced at this point, and will continue to improve over subsequent years following the surgery.

If you experience any complications shortly after your surgery, it’s important that you reach out to your Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon so that they can be addressed. By and large this is a plastic surgery procedure that is well-tolerated by patients of all ages.