The operation is always under general anaesthetic and is performed as an in-patient procedure. The usual length of stay in hospital is 2 days.
The amount of excess skin and fat is assessed before the operation by pinching the inside of the upper arm and is removed in shape of a vertical ellipse. The wound edges are then sutured together leaving a scar running from the armpit along the inside of the arm towards the elbow. The length of the final scar depends on the degree of tissue excess.
Both the deep and superficial (skin) sutures are made from absorbable material and do not have to be removed.
The dressings can usually be left intact after discharge until your first follow-up appointment. You may shower over the dressings, but should not bathe or swim until the wounds have healed.
After surgery the arms are tightly wrapped with elastic bandages. Later on a compression sleeve is usually recommendet for 4-6 weeks after surgery day and night.
Every day activities and light work (e.g. office work), including driving, can usually be resumed about 1-2 weeks after surgery. Lifting heavy objects weighing more than 5 kg (including children) and physical activities (sport) should be refrained from until all the wounds have healed.
Routine follow-up appointments with your surgeon will be at 1-2 weeks, 6 weeks, 3 months and 1 year after surgery.
As with every surgical procedure an arm lift is associated with both anaesthetic and surgical risks. Preexisting conditions such as Diabetes, obesity, heart and blood vessel diseases, immune diseases and smoking significantly increase the risk of complications.
General complications of all surgical procedures include:
Bleeding/Hematoma, infection, thrombosis (including pulmonary embolism)
The most common surgical complications after an arm lift are:
- delayed wound healing or wound breakdown
- unsightly or asymmetrical scars
- permanent numbness of the skin
- dog-ears or tissue excess at the ends of the scar
- skin necrosis
- nerve damage
Do I need to stop my own medication prior to surgery?
Most medication can be continued normally. Some drugs such as blood thinners (e.g. Aspirin or Warfarin/Marcoumar) can increase the risk of postoperative bleeding and may need to be stopped or replaced before the procedure. We ask you to bring a complete list of all your medication and their dosages to your first consultation.
Does my GP need to perform or organize any special investigations or tests before surgery?
Before any surgery the surgical team including the anaesthetist will need to be aware of any preexisting conditions (especially cardiovascular or lung diseases) which may be associated with an increased anaesthetic risk. Previous abdominal surgery can also pose an increased risk of surgical complications and can have an impact on the surgical strategy and technique. In case of a suspected hernia a CT or ultrasound is usually recommended to assess its size and extent.
We ask you to provide as much detailed information on your past medical history as possible when you come for your preoperative consultation so we can coordinate any necessary tests with your GP.
Do I need to stop smoking before surgery?
We seriously recommend stopping all nicotine consumption, including smoking at least 6 weeks before any surgical procedure. One of the most common complications following any type of surgery is delayed wound healing or wound breakdown. The main cause of this is usually bad blood circulation to the skin and tissues in the operated area. Nicotine is a chemical substance, which causes blood vessels in the body to constrict (narrow). This lowers the blood circulation to the wound and significantly increases the risk of complications.
What happens if I gain or lose weight after surgery?
Weight changes will most likely have an effect on the surgical result, but since each individual gains or loses weight in a different manner it is impossible to predict how it may impact the appearance. It is advisable not to undergo surgery until a stable body weight can be maintained.
Are there any activities I won’t be able to do after surgery?
Once the healing period is over there are no restrictions.
I have already had an arm lift but I have regained some excess tissue. Can the procedure be repeated?
In most cases this is indeed possible. It is however essential for your surgeon to know the surgical details and the technique of your previous surgery. The risk of complications such as wound breakdown bad scarring are significantly higher in any repeat surgery.
I would also like a breast reduction. Can this be done at the same time?
Yes. An arm lift is frequently combined with a breast/chest reduction, especially in patients after massive weight loss where the tissue excess extends to the side of the chest. This procedure is called an “upper body lift”.
How long before I can go back to work after surgery?
This depends on your work. Light duties, such as office jobs can usually be resumed after about 2 weeks and a return to all activities after 4-6 weeks.
Especially if you have small children it is important for you to plan and ensure enough support for their care other household chores during your recovery period.
Will I get a sick certificate for the time I am off work?
Only if the procedure is medically indicated and covered by your health insurance.
You will need to take annual leave for the entire period that you are absent from work it is a purely aesthetic procedure.
Will my health insurance cover the costs for the surgery?
The correction of large excesses of soft tissue, particulary after massive weight loss following bariatric surgery (e.g. gastric bypass or band) are sometimes covered by health insurance. Written confirmation of guaranteed payment by your insurance company must be sought by a medical professional prior to surgery.
Will my health insurance cover the costs of treatment if I develop any complications requiring medical treatment, hospitalization or even further surgery?
Yes, provided the complication is purely medical, e.g. an infection.
Corrections of aesthetic complications are not covered.