Patients that undergo a brachioplasty (arm lift) to correct a significant amount of loose skin will be left with a scar. Unfortunately, scarring as a result of major arm lift surgery is unavoidable but there are measures that can be taken to minimize the appearance of scarring. If loose skin is only minimal the patient may be a candidate for a scarless arm lift procedure.
What Is a Brachioplasty?
Brachioplasty is a surgical procedure that is done to remove excess loose skin on the upper arm that may remain after a significant weight loss or aging. An incision is made in the under-portion of the upper arm that normally runs from the elbow to the armpit.
Liposuction may be used to remove excess fat deposits, loose skin is removed, and the rest of the skin is pulled tight and sutured together. An arm lift results in more contoured, sleeker, smoother upper arms.
What Kind of Scar Does a Brachioplasty Leave?
Depending on the extent of the surgery and the degree of loose skin that is present, resulting scars can vary. When a patient requires traditional arm lift surgery, it is impossible to perform it without any resulting scars.
Surgeons will use the most advanced techniques available to minimize any visible scarring, but unfortunately scarring on this part of the arm can not be hidden easily. Typical brachioplasty leaves scars that run between the elbow and the armpit on the underside of the arms.
How Does a Scar Form?
Scars are the result of our body’s natural response to an injury. Our skin repairs itself by producing new collagen fibers. But unlike the type of fibers it creates to form normal tissue (looks like a random basketweave pattern) the collagen produced to repair incisions and cuts is woven in one direction, haphazardly and not in a nice even pattern resulting in a scar.
Scars can be thin, thick, raised, flat, shiny, or can also present as a large raised bumpy area – keloid. Applying topical creams or treatments as the collagen repairs are being made can often influence the quality of the fibers and help reduce the significance of the resulting scar.
Minimizing Visible Scars after an Arm Lift
After having an arm lift one can expect sutures running the entire length of their arm from the elbow to the armpit. Immediately after surgery they will look red, raised, and swollen but as time goes on this will fade, flatten and become less visible.
After about a year the scar from an arm lift should be fading as well as flattening. There are cosmetic med-spa treatments available to assist in reducing the visibility of scars.
Most people are not aware that scarring is a normal part of the body’s wound healing process. This part of the wound healing process can last several years instead of the few weeks we are accustomed to when we have a minor cut or scrape. There are some things that you can do during and after the healing process to help minimize the appearance of the scars from brachioplasty.
Take Care of the Wound From the Start
Wound Care: The first step in reducing the appearance of scarring starts immediately after the wound is created. Follow the wound care instructions provided to you by the surgeon such as keeping the wound clean and covered, applying dressings or antibiotic ointment. This will prevent infection or other complications that can result in worse scarring.
Topical Scar Treatment
Topical creams and lotions can help lessen the appearance of scars if applied consistently during the healing process. Your cosmetic surgeon can advise which will work best for you and when to begin their use.
A study that can be found in the Archives of Dermatological Research reported findings regarding topical applications for promoting healing and reducing the appearance of dermal scarring. Some of the effective topical treatments they discusses included:
- Silicone gel has been around for years and is one of the most effective treatments to minimize the appearance of scars when used from the onset of the injury. It is available in many forms but the silicone strips that are available in long lengths are perfect to use on arm lift scars. Silicone also comes in “stick” form which can be convenient for on-the-go.
- Scar cream – there are many creams and topical treatments available over-the-counter and through a prescription that are specifically made to lessen the visibility of scars. Look for ones that contain ingredients such as vitamin E, allantoin, aloe vera, and other natural ingredients that are known to reduce the appearance of scars.
- Natural holistic – Aloe and Vitamin E are both effective in providing hydration, reducing scar inflammation, and helping flatten and lessen their appearance. Green tea extract provides these properties with the additional benefits of antioxidant properties and reduces the synthesis of collagen formation. Onion extract offers antioxidant properties and inhibits scar proliferation – random patterns of collagen growth.
Cosmetic Med-Spa Treatments to Reduce Appearance of Arm Lift Scars
- Laser and light-based treatments – once the scar is mostly healed after about a year light-based treatments or laser resurfacing treatments such as CoolPeel can lighten scars and significantly smooth their texture. It may be necessary to do a few rounds of treatment to obtain the results you desire.
- Microneedling treatments can work wonders for scars as it jump-starts your body’s natural collagen formation process. The resulting collagen is that of normal tissue forming in a nice even “basket weave” pattern which significantly flattens and softens existing scars.
If you have experienced a significant weight loss and are looking for solutions to remove or tighten loose skin in your upper arms, or if you need help reducing the visible scars left by traditional arm lift surgery contact SurgiCare Arts & Aesthetics to set up a consultation today. Dr. Angelina Postoev, MD, FACS, a triple-board certified cosmetic surgeon, and Christopher Ibikunle, MD, FACS, offer arm lifts in Lawrenceville, Suwanee, Johns Creek, Buckhead, and the surrounding areas of Atlanta, Georgia, Tampa, FL, and Hudson, FL.