As we age, the skin and flesh of our upper arms begin to sag (bingo wings), creating a loose area of skin that can hang from the lower side of the arm when the arm is extended. This condition can also occur after substantial weight loss or exercise. It can be corrected by removing skin, flab and fatty tissue (sometimes in combination with liposuction); however, the surgery does leave a noticeable scar incision in photos.
As the goal for most patients is to be able to leave the arms bare in pictures, some people may not find this a satisfactory trade-off. However, for patients who have lost a significant amount of weight, arm lift surgery can be an important part of restoring a balanced body shape.
During your consultation Mr Banwell will take a medical history and ask you about your goals for the procedure. He will discuss the surgery and offer tips, while making sure you understand the amount of scarring that will result. As scars on the body do not fade as much as those on the face, increasing efforts have focused on limiting the scars for arm lift surgery. When the degree of loose skin and fatty tissue is limited, it is possible to perform a combination of liposuction and shorter scar technique, with fewer complications.
Liposuction alone can also be very useful in treating and reducing the bulk of arms but patient selection is very important. Healing takes up the extra slack in the skin, but does not actually tighten it. However, there are some liposuction reduction techniques, exercises and hardware which will also tighten skin and these are available at Mr Banwell’s practice in Kent and Sussex at a reasonable cost.
At your regulation consultation, Mr Banwell will discuss with you whether you would be a suitable candidate for this approach. It requires that only a moderate volume needs to be reduced without force and that your skin has sufficient elasticity. People who have significant sun damage, extensive stretch marks or loose or broken skin are not candidates for short scar surgery.
What to expect
All procedures are usually carried out under general anaesthetic as a day case or with an overnight stay. Procedures on average normally take between one and two hours. Depending on what technique is used the “skin reduction” scars may be placed only in the armpit, in the armpit and for a short distance on the inner part of the arm, or along the inside of the from elbow to armpit.
Discomfort after arm reduction surgery is usually minimal and can be relieved by either prescription painkillers or mild analgesics like Paracetamol. Aspirin and Brufen must be avoided as they can promote bleeding.
As you recover from skin reduction surgery, things you should expect:
- Some swelling and bruising is normal and should resolve in a matter of days or weeks.
- Your sutures will dissolve on their own and your bandages will be removed in one week.
- You can shower at home in four to seven days, but in the early stages you should try to keep the dressings dry.
- Hands and wrists can swell after surgery on the arms, so when you are resting you should try to keep your arms elevated on pillows at your sides, to reduce swelling.
- Two to four postoperative visits are commonly required, but more may be needed if the scar management requires more intervention.
- During these post-operative visits, your surgeon will suggest the best measures you can take to control the build-up of scar tissue and minimise the visibility of your scars. These strategies often include using silicone gel and massage for a period of several months, or using a tape impregnated with silicone applied straight over the scar.
- Arm movement should be reduced for a month. Complications from arm reduction surgery are rare but may include infection, bleeding and excessive scarring.
Naturally, there will be many questions you will want to ask before making any decisions about undergoing surgery. Also you will wish to meet Mr Banwell – having trust and confidence in one’s Surgeon is very important.
Surgery is unique to every patient, both men and women, and a detailed discussion and assessment between you and Mr Banwell is essential in enabling you to make a decision based on correct personal information and advice.
Arranging a medical consultation does not obligate you to anything other than attending the appointment. There is no obligation to proceed with treatment. This is entirely a matter for your decision, after Mr Banwell has decided on the feasibility and accepted you as suitable.