Back in the 90s, the dramedy Ally McBeal often referred to a term called “arm waddle”—and featured slow-motion scenes where characters’ upper-arm fat jiggled as they waved. While it’s possible to slim down flabby arms with toning exercises, many people opt for a cosmetic procedure known as brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift. “Countless patients I’ve seen have benefitted from brachioplasty surgery, especially if their upper arms are drooping or sagging,” says Dr. Mark McClung, who has done an array of these successful procedures in his storied 25-year career in Kansas City. “Some people say the batwing-like appearance of their arms—complete with a flap of skin that hangs down—makes them self-conscious. It’s a familiar problem.”
Arm droop can be caused by any number of factors. “Sometimes a patient has experienced significant weight loss,” adds Dr. McClung. “Other times heredity can play a factor as aging skin has been so stretched that it loses the ability to retract—and that cannot be corrected by exercise.”
According to Dr. McClung, the four-step procedure can improve tone and definition in and around your upper arms. “Depending on the patient, we’ll often reduce pockets of fat and remove excess skin,” he says. “Then, we tighten supportive tissue and smooth over the remaining skin.”
If you’re considering the procedure, Dr. McClung will gladly answer any questions you may have during your complimentary consultation at his Leawood office. In the meantime, here are five of his most frequently asked questions about brachioplasty:
5) Who is a prime candidate for an arm lift?
“That’s an easy answer—it’s patients with significant skin laxity. There are two vital components to the skin’s structure that can affect laxity: elastin and collagen. We begin to lose these two key components as we age, resulting in loose, sagging skin.
If there is no skin laxity, but only fullness, then liposuction may be the appropriate procedure. If there is mild skin laxity, there’s also a radiofrequency skin tightening that can help with the combination of liposuction. Patients have plenty of options.”
4) What does downtime typically look like?
“While every patient is different, downtime is typically 2-3 weeks for healing. We’ll also add arm sleeves for compression and support for around 3 weeks as well. I tell patients to expect some tightness around the scarring. Most times, patients can begin exercising at four weeks.
Downtime aside, there are certainly telltale benefits—like improved contouring and a considerably smaller arm—with the trade-off being a small scar running down the posterior inner aspect of the arm.”
3) How long does it typically last?
“Patients who have an arm lift—or brachioplasty—will often see very long-lasting results. Once lax skin is removed, it’s very unlikely it will ever recur or reappear.”
2) What are some typical complications if any?
“Occasionally, patients will experience sensory nerve dysfunction in the forearm and areas along the scar which are slow to heal. Some numbness and tightness around the scar are expected, but completely normal.”
1) Finally, do you enjoy doing the procedure? Are patients ecstatic about the overall results?
“Yes! It’s a very satisfying operation because it can make such a dramatic difference. You can expect a trimmer appearance in your upper arm. Many people say it gives them a boost in confidence. Besides the improved ability to exercise, they feel more comfortable in swimsuits, sleeveless shirts, and form-fitting tops.
At Associated Plastic Surgeons, all of our doctors are well-versed in various cosmetic surgery procedures—including brachioplasty. Want to learn more or schedule a surgical consultation? Call us today at (913) 451-3722 or visit here