Many patients research body sculpting procedures like liposuction after reaching their weight loss goals. This is because some areas of the body, like the upper arms, are hard to tone and tighten, despite weightlifting, exercise or diet. For many years, the regular course of treatment for this stubborn area has been the Brachioplasty, or arm lift, surgical procedure, but many patients now turn to liposuction to resculpt this area instead.
Excess skin and sagging tissue in the upper arms is often a byproduct of significant weight loss and makes some patients feel self-conscious about their appearance. As a result, arm resculpting procedures are in the top five most desired surgeries for patients who have lost a large amount of weight. The condition also occurs in some patients as a result of aging or genetics. This excess skin and tissue is often referred to as “wings” and may lead to health complications like rashes or skin infections if there is a large amount of excess tissue.
Traditional treatments involve the surgical excision of excess skin and fat. The patient is put under general anesthesia, and then a large incision is made, often running from the underarm area to just above the elbow. Fat pockets are removed or reduced. In some cases, patients have arm tissue sutured together in an effort to sculpt the area further. Skin is pulled up and tightened, and the incision is closed.
The entire procedure takes around two hours to complete. After the arm lift procedure, patients usually experience one to two weeks of downtime after their procedure. Many patients also experience soreness, bruising and swelling for several weeks, and must refrain from heavy lifting and arm exercise for a period ranging from three to eight weeks.
Patients choosing to have liposuction to treat their upper arms often experience a shorter recovery period than individuals who opt for the traditional Brachioplasty procedure, says Dr. Bill Johnson, M.D. Johnson, is a cosmetic physician in Dallas, Texas, who uses liposuction to treat the stubborn upper area of patients looking to tone their arms. “Patients who choose liposuction to resculpt their arms are often able to return to work and light activity in one to two days after the procedure,” says Johnson.
Aside from the benefit of a shorter recovery period, liposuction patients do not require general anesthesia for the procedure. Johnson performs liposuction procedures in his clinic and uses a tumescent anesthetic fluid to numb the area of treatment. This allows patients to remain awake during the procedure, and have an easier time during recovery. This also reduces costs of the procedure by eliminating the cost of the anesthesiologist and surgical center. The liposuction procedure requires only tiny incisions to accommodate the liposuction wand in comparison to the larger incisions of the Brachioplasty procedure. “Eliminating the chance of unsightly scarring is a definite plus to patients weighing their options between the procedures,” says Johnson.
Johnson uses a particular type of liposuction, SmartLipo, to treat patients. SmartLipo uses ultrasonic energy to target fat cells and melt the away. This prevents other tissue from being impacted and allows for faster healing.
Liposuction encourages the body to produce more collagen, a protein needed to maintain skin and tissues. This collage production helps tighten the area of treatment and improve the final results of the treatment.
SmartLipo also takes less time than traditional surgery. “The SmartLipo liposuction procedure for both arms takes approximately one hour,” says Johnson. Patients should ensure they have transportation to get home after the procedure, even though they are awake, he cautions.
The SmartLipo procedure is a great option for patients looking to tone and tighten their arms, but want to avoid the downtime of surgery and the risks associated with general anesthesia and infection. Some patients would not benefit from liposuction to improve the look of their arms, so a consultation with a cosmetic physician like Johnson helps patients determine if liposuction is the best approach to treating their arms.