Arm lift risks & complications
What are the main arm lift risks & complications?
Before you consent to having surgery, it is important that you consider the arm lift risks and complications. Our surgeons recommend that you take two weeks after the initial consultation to think about all aspects of an arm lift procedure before you go in to have the surgery.
Educating yourself on the risks of this procedure is really important and will allow you to make a fully informed decision. The risks include the following:
A seroma is a pocket of fluid that collects under the skin. This pocket often develops under or around the area where you have your incision. To reduce the risk of this developing, your surgeon will put drains into your arms after surgery to collect the fluid. Although not very harmful, if a seroma becomes too large, your surgeon may have to drain the excess fluid.
As an arm lift requires your surgeon to make surgical incisions, you will definitely be left with a scar. The incision lines for this procedure are purposely put in places that are as discreet as possible. If scarring is a particular issue for you, you may wish to consider having the mini brachioplasty which produces the least amount of scarring.
You should also be aware that there may also be some asymmetry in the scars between the two arms, but your surgeon will do their best to reduce this.
Some patients experience more severe forms of scarring called keloid or hypertrophic scars. It is important to notify your surgeon if you have had this type of scarring in the past.
Swelling and bruising
After an arm lift, there may be a large amount of swelling and bruising in the arms. The skin area around the wound may appear darker or lighter in colour. You may also find that you experience some swelling of the hands. This should all resolve over time, typically within two to three weeks.
You must take any sort of infection seriously if it occurs. In most cases, the infections are only mild wound infections that your surgeon can treat with some antibiotics. If a more serious infection occurs, you may need to go back to the hospital for treatment. It is important that you flag up any signs of infection which can include:
- Any fluid or pus coming out of the incision
- An increasing amount of pain that is not relieved by medication
- Foul smelling discharge
- A temperature greater than 38°C
- Redness or swelling that is starting to spread away from the incision line.
General surgical complications
All surgical procedures carry some common risks. These include, but are not limited to:
- Blood clot formation
- Vomiting and nausea
- Blood loss
- Problems with anesthesia.
Your surgeon will discuss all of the possible risks prior to your surgery. It is also important that you follow your surgeon’s pre and postoperative advice to further reduce the risk of these complications occurring.
If you experience any periods of sudden shortness of breath, unusual heartbeats, chest pain or a red swollen arm that is very tender to touch, it is essential you contact your surgeon immediately.
You must keep in mind that you may be unhappy with the aesthetic results of your surgery. To try and avoid this happening, you must choose your surgeon carefully and make sure that he or she fully understands your expectations and desires.
Fat, tissue or skin necrosis
During an arm lift procedure, areas around the arms might lose their blood supply. If this happens, the area that is affected may die. This is a very rare complication and is called necrosis. It can happen in the fat, tissue or skin of the arms. The necrosis makes the area under the skin firm and uneven in appearance. You will need further surgery to remove these areas if they do develop. The risk of this happening increases if you are a smoker. This is one of the reasons why you must be smoke and nicotine-free for at least 6 weeks before and after your arm lift.
Changes in skin sensation
As your surgeon repositions and tightens the arm tissues, it may cause some damage to the nerves around that area. This can lead to changes in the feeling or sensation in your arms. These changes can either be an increase in sensation, a decrease in sensation or strange feelings of burning or tingling. In most cases, however, this is temporary and should resolve itself within a few months after the procedure. Rarely, these changes in sensation can become permanent.
After your procedure, your surgeon will close the incisions with either absorbable or non-absorbable sutures. There is a risk that these may cause irritation, poke through the skin or become visible. If this happens, your surgeon will remove them.
It is common to experience some minor bleeding after your operation. Bleeding can, however, become more severe. This tends to happen during or immediately after your operation, but can occasionally occur up to 2 weeks later. You may need to have surgery to correct this.
Choosing a highly qualified BAAPS/BAPRAS surgeon will decrease the chances of you developing any of these arm lift risks and complications.