Patients often present with redundant skin and soft tissue of the arms following significant weight loss. Arm lift is a surgical procedure that tightens the skin envelope to improve arm contour. The trade off for improved contour is the resultant scarring. For cases with a mild degree of skin redundancy, a limited excision within the underarm may be possible. Most cases however require an incision that extends from the underarm to elbow region to achieve a tightening effect. The incisions are most commonly placed along the inner arm to reduce visibility at conversational distance. Although an incision at the back of the arm is possible, this may be more visible in social settings when wearing short sleeves. Arm lift scars will be discussed in detail during consultation to ensure that expectations may be achieved. Patients commonly ask how long it takes for arm lift scars to fade.
One year for arm lift scars to mature
Arm lift scars are permanent. Scars appear most immature for 4-6 weeks post-operatively and then begin to mature and remodel over one year. Scars will initially appear pink and blanch with applied pressure. As long as scars are protected from UV exposure — which should be minimal when placed along the inner arm — they should fade to skin tone over the course of one year. Scars may widen with time due to movement and wound tension. A detailed history will be performed during consultation to rule out additional risk factors for more pronounced scarring.
Scar management may improve the appearance of arm lift scars
Scar management will be discussed during routine follow up. Scar massage may be an effective technique to desensitize and flatten immature scars. Silicone sheeting or paper tape may also be applied to the incisions over the first few months. They promote faster scar remodeling, potentially through scar hydration or by increasing scar temperature. They should be worn full-time except when showering over the first few months post-operatively to be effective.
Early post-op care may lower risk of healing complications and lead to better arm lift scars
Following recommended activity restrictions may reduce the risk of wound healing complications and lead to better scarring. It is recommended to wear a tensor wrap over the first two weeks following surgery to reduce swelling. If greater tension is placed across the incisions during early healing, this may increase the risk of scar widening and further healing complications. Heavy lifting and exercise should also be avoided over the first month to lower risk of bleeding and increased swelling.
Please contact us if considering body contouring in the Toronto area to schedule a consultation with female plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephanie Power. Arm lift may a powerful procedure to tighten the skin envelope and to improve arm contour in appropriately selected patients. Dr. Power will listen to your aesthetic goals and assess whether this surgery may be right for you.