Recovery after Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: February 16, 2024

What Is the Recovery Process After Arm Lift Surgery

Arm lift surgery (Brachioplasty) reshapes the under portion of your upper arm, from the underarm region to the elbow. This procedure is designed to help you remove excess skin that droops downward when the arms are lifted. Brachioplasty is often chosen by individuals who desire a more shaped and proportionate appearance for their arms.

The procedure itself involves an incision made either on the inside or back of your arm, extending from the elbow to the underarm. The length of the incision depends on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. Following the incision, the underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. Finally, the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm.

Dr Lim’s 2024 Excess Skin Guide

Excess Skin Guide

Before getting this surgery it’s essential to understand that the recovery after arm lift can take a while. Patience, understanding, and care are key to achieving optimal results.

Sydney Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim is an experienced plastic surgeon performing brachioplasty. Before conducting any procedure, he engages in detailed consultations to understand the patients’ specific desires and needs. This allows him to curate individualised surgical plans, which optimises both the safety quotient and aesthetic impact.

Arm Lift Patient
Arm Lift Patient – Back Arm View

What Is ‘Brachioplasty’?

Brachioplasty is a surgical term derived from the Greek words ‘brachion’ meaning arm, and ‘plastikos’ meaning to mould or form. In essence, brachioplasty is a procedure that moulds or forms the arm by removing excess skin and fat.

This surgical procedure is a popular choice among individuals who have experienced significant weight loss, leaving them with excess arm skin that cannot be eliminated using other methods.

While the procedure offers many benefits, it’s important to note that brachioplasty recovery is a crucial part of the process. It requires following specific post-operative care instructions, managing discomfort, and maintaining a positive mindset throughout.

What Is the Recovery Process after Arm Lift Surgery?

Recovery after arm lift surgery is a critical aspect of the procedure. It involves following specific care instructions, managing discomfort, and gradually resuming normal activities. Keep in mind that everyone’s body responds differently to surgery, and hence, your recovery timeline and experience may vary.

At first, you may experience swelling and discomfort in the treated area. Dr Jake Lim will prescribe medication to alleviate these symptoms. To minimise swelling, it’s recommended to keep your arms (and upper body) elevated as much as possible. It’s also essential to wear a compression garment as instructed by Dr Lim, which helps reduce swelling and supports your arms as they heal.

More than this, you’ll need to take care of the surgical incision sites. This includes cleaning the area and properly applying prescribed ointment. It’s crucial to avoid subjecting your incisions to excessive force, motion, or abrasion during the time of healing.

Brachioplasty Recovery Timeline

Understanding the recovery timeline after brachioplasty is essential. This timeline is generally broken down into various stages, each with its own set of expectations, precautions, and milestones.

The first few days post-surgery are characterised by rest and recuperation. During this period, it’s crucial to follow Dr Lim’s instructions regarding wound care, medication, and arm movement limitations.

By the end of the first week, you may be allowed to perform light activities, such as walking. However, any strenuous activity should still be avoided. You may also notice a significant reduction in swelling and discomfort during this stage.

In the subsequent weeks, you will gradually resume more of your normal activities. By the fourth week, most patients are able to return to work, depending on the nature of their job. Regular follow-up appointments with Dr Lim will ensure your recovery is on track.

Arm lift before and after
Arm Lift Patient – Back Arm View

Tips for Recovery after Arm Lift Surgery

Ensuring a smooth recovery after arm lift surgery requires not only following your surgeon’s instructions but also taking care of your overall health. Here are some additional insights into the tips mentioned:

Stay well-hydrated and maintain a nutritious diet to support healing: Consuming a balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals can facilitate the healing process and strengthen your immune system. Staying well-hydrated can also enhance skin elasticity and reduce the risk of complications. Consider incorporating foods such as lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals.

Avoid smoking as it can affect the healing process: Smoking can significantly impede your recovery from any surgical procedure. Nicotine restricts blood flow, making it difficult for your body to deliver essential nutrients to the surgical site. This can result in slower healing, increased risk of infection, and more noticeable scarring. You should stop smoking several weeks before surgery and continue to abstain throughout the recovery period.

Regularly wear your compression garment as advised: Dr Lim will provide a compression garment to wear post-surgery. This helps to minimise swelling and support the healing tissues. It’s essential to wear this garment as directed by Dr Lim to facilitate healing and achieve optimal surgical outcomes.

Keep your arms elevated whenever possible to minimise swelling: In the days following your surgery, you may notice some swelling in your arms. This is completely normal and can be managed by keeping your arms elevated, especially while sleeping. Using pillows to prop up your arms can help reduce swelling and promote blood circulation.

Listen to your body. If you feel discomfort during an activity, stop, and allow yourself time to rest: Everyone’s body recovers at its own pace. It’s essential to respect your body’s signals and not rush the healing process. Overexerting yourself can lead to complications, so if you feel any discomfort during an activity, stop immediately. Ensure you’re getting plenty of rest and gradually reintroduce physical activities as per your comfort level and doctor’s advice.

Additional tips could include:

Move Your Arms Gradually: While strenuous activities and heavy lifting should be avoided, gentle movements are encouraged to promote blood circulation and prevent stiffness. Start with small movements and gradually increase your range of motion based on your comfort and Dr Lim’s advice.

Attend All Follow-Up Appointments: It’s important to attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with Dr Lim. These allow the plastic surgeon to monitor your recovery, address any concerns or complications, and advise on when you can resume specific activities.

Maintain a Positive Mindset: Recovery from any surgery can be both physically and mentally challenging. Maintaining a positive mindset can help you cope with the recovery process. Don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family, or professional counsellors if you’re feeling anxious or depressed.

Remember, the most crucial point in your recovery is to follow Dr Lim’s advice. He is familiar with your particular situation and can provide the best guidance for recovery.

Possible Complications and How to Handle Them

While arm lift surgery is generally safe, like any surgical procedure, it carries potential risks and complications. These may include infection, blood clots, unfavourable scarring, or reactions to anaesthesia.

Should you notice any signs of infection such as high fever, excessive pain, or unusual discharge from the incision sites, it’s important to contact Dr Lim’s team immediately.

Maintaining a clear line of communication with your plastic surgeon is important to handling potential complications effectively. This includes reporting any concerns promptly and following his guidance closely.

Physical Activities during the Recovery Phase

During the recovery phase after arm lift surgery, it’s essential to slowly and gradually reintroduce physical activities. Light walking can usually be started within a few days following the procedure. This helps improve circulation, reduce the risk of blood clots, and promote a sense of well-being.

However, strenuous activities, particularly those involving the arms, should be avoided for at least 4 to 6 weeks or until your surgeon gives you the green light.

Long-Term Results of an Arm Lift Surgery

The results of an arm lift surgery are long-lasting. However, maintaining these results requires consistent care. This includes adopting a balanced diet and regular exercise regimen to prevent excessive weight fluctuation, which can affect your results. Regular follow-up appointments with your plastic surgeon will also ensure that the results are maintained optimally.

When to Contact Your Surgeon during Recovery after Arm Lift Surgery

Always remember, your plastic surgeon is your ally during your recovery journey. If you notice any unusual symptoms such as unexpected swelling, persistent pain, or changes in the incision sites, don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr Lim.

Regular post-operative appointments are designed to monitor your progress. But if you have concerns between these scheduled visits, it’s crucial to contact your plastic surgeon immediately.

The recovery after arm lift surgery requires patience, understanding, and diligent care. By following Dr Lim’s instructions, maintaining a positive mindset, and giving your body the rest it needs, you will be well on your way to achieving optimal results.

Remember, your plastic surgeon is there to guide you every step of the way. So, don’t hesitate to communicate any concerns or questions you may have during your recovery process. After all, achieving optimal results from your arm lift surgery is a team effort.

FAQs about Arm Lift Recovery

How long does it take to recover from an arm lift surgery?

  • The initial healing process after arm lift surgery usually takes around two to three weeks. The complete recovery, including the gradual fading of scars, might take several months to a year. Keep in mind, recovery timelines can vary depending on the individual’s health, the extent of the surgery, and the person’s adherence to post-operative instructions. Discuss the timeline with Dr Lim to find out what can be expected after your brachioplasty surgery.

What type of post-operative care should I anticipate after an arm lift surgery?

  • After arm lift surgery, your arms will likely be wrapped in bandages or a compression garment to minimise swelling and support healing. Dr Lim will provide specific instructions on how to care for the surgical site, medications to take to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection, and when to schedule a follow-up appointment.

Will I be able to use my arms during the recovery period?

  • In the first days of the recovery period, your movement may be restricted to avoid straining the incision sites. Over time, you will be encouraged to gradually start moving your arms to promote blood circulation, reduce stiffness, and encourage healing. Keep in mind that lifting heavy objects or intense exercise should be avoided until Dr Lim gives you the all-clear.

What kind of pain or discomfort can I expect during recovery?

  • Mild to moderate discomfort and pain are common after an arm lift surgery, especially in the first few days following the procedure. Pain can usually be managed with prescribed pain medications. You may also experience swelling, bruising, and numbness, which should gradually subside over time.

When can I return to work and resume normal activities after an arm lift surgery?

  • Most patients can return to non-physical work within 2-3 weeks post-surgery. It is recommended to avoid strenuous activities, including heavy lifting and intense exercise, for about 4-6 weeks after surgery. It’s crucial to follow your surgeon’s advice on resuming activities to avoid complications and ensure optimal results.

What should I do if I notice any complications or abnormalities during my recovery period?

  • If you notice any signs of infection (such as fever, chills, increased redness or swelling around the incision), severe pain not relieved by medication, sudden arm swelling, or if your general health declines, contact your medical team immediately. While complications are rare, it’s important to seek prompt attention to address any potential issues.

Further Reading about Body Procedures with Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Arm Lift and Recovery

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.