The Extended Arm Lift: What Is It & Are You a Good Candidate?

Whether you’ve recently lost a lot of weight or realized the years are flying by at breakneck speed, you may notice a flap of excess skin and fat that hangs under your upper arms. While there are lots of exercises you can do to tone and sculpt your arm muscles and make them look better, no amount of effort on your part will remove this extra skin. This isn’t your fault or the result of some type of gap in your workout routine. There simply is no exercise that removes this droopy skin: it’s just the nature of the beast. In this case, the beast is often referred to as a bat and the skin as bat wings. Clipping these wings requires surgery.

What is an Extended Arm Lift?

An extended arm lift is a plastic surgery that removes the pouch of excess skin and fat often found hanging under our upper arms. During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision along the inside of the upper arm. His incision will likely start just above your elbow, travel up the inside of your arm, follow the curve of your underarm, and spread onto the side of your chest. Depending on the amount of tissue to be removed, the incision may extend all the way to the edge of the crease beneath your breast.

Next, the doctor will remove any excess skin or fat, sculpting the area as he works to create a desirable shape and contour along the upper arm. When he is finished, he will pull the skin over your newly sculpted arm and close the incision.

How Does It Differ From a Traditional Arm Lift?

In a traditional arm lift the surgeon’s incision is limited, traveling from the elbow to the underarm and stopping there. In an extended arm lift, the cut is literally extended along the underarm and onto the side of the chest. This extended procedure allows the surgeon to remove any excess skin and fat that creeps onto the chest itself. It ultimately allows more skin and fat to be removed. This is frequently necessary when a patient has lost large amounts of weight.

Who is a Good Candidate for an Extended Arm Lift?

You’re a good candidate for an extended arm lift if you have large amounts of skin or fat that hang beneath your arms and that extends into your underarms and the sides of your chest. You’ll need to be willing to accept that you’ll have a scar after surgery, as well. This scar will be fairly well hidden in the natural contours of your body and will fade with time, but it will always be visible from certain angles and perspectives.

Ideal surgical candidates are those who have a good understanding of what surgery can and can’t do for them and have adequate time to devote to recovery. You should also be at or near your ideal body weight and able to maintain that weight in the long term. It’s best to be relatively healthy prior to surgery and have any chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes well under control.

If you smoke, you need to quit before surgery and continue avoiding the habit as you recover. Smoking narrows blood vessels. This slows the healing process, makes scarring worse, and invites post-surgical complications that you could otherwise avoid.

How Painful is an Extended Arm Lift?

You will experience some swelling, inflammation, bruising, and mild pain after an extended arm lift procedure. Most patients report that although some mild soreness remains, any pain associated with the procedure typically abates within 48 hours. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication after the procedure, however, so you should be fairly comfortable as you begin to heal.

What is the Recovery Time Like for an Extended Arm Lift?

After your procedure, you may have several small drainage tubes along your incision to prevent swelling and fluid accumulation. Your doctor will show you how to empty and clean these tubes, which he will remove for you in a few days. In addition to your surgical bandages, you may need to tightly wrap a bandage around your arm or wear a compression sleeve for a few weeks. This too helps reduce swelling and will help your arm settle into its new contour.

You will not be allowed to lift heavy objects or exercise for at least a month after surgery. Most patients are able to drive and return to work in about 2 weeks. You may need to stay home longer, however, if your job is physically demanding.

When Will Results Be Seen? Are They Permanent?

You will be able to see a big difference in your arms immediately after surgery, but what you see won’t be your final result. You’ll need to wait for the swelling and the inflammation to abate before you’ll see that. At about the 6-week mark, your newly sculpted arms will have the look you can expect them to keep moving forward.

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