For many patients who come in for a consultation, unfortunately, it’s all too easy for them to identify what it is they’d like to change about their appearance. However, it’s considerably more difficult for them to decide what to do about it. This holds especially true for patients who are unhappy with the sagging of their upper arms, and they often ask me whether liposuction or an arm lift is the right choice for them. If you’re struggling with this same question, here are a few factors to consider:
- Fat vs. Skin
What’s causing the sagging below your upper arm—is it excess fat or drooping skin? This is the most fundamental difference between liposuction and an arm lift (or brachioplasty)—liposuction strictly removes fat, while an arm lift removes excess skin and fat and tightens the skin that remains. During your plastic surgery consultation, I can examine your arms and determine the cause of their appearance. For some patients, the best choice is a combination of both, and in this case, liposuction and brachioplasty can typically be performed in the same procedure.
- Skin Elasticity
When we’re young, our skin is very elastic—as we gain and lose weight, the skin adjusts with us so it stays firm. But as we get older, or when we undergo rapid changes like massive weight loss, the skin can lose this elasticity and can struggle to adjust to a smaller size. Therefore, patients with little skin elasticity are better suited for an arm lift, because if liposuction is used to remove fat but the skin fails to conform to the arm’s new, smaller shape, the patient will find themselves with sagging skin.
Every plastic surgery causes scarring, but the scars are very different depending on the procedure. Liposuction is performed using a narrow tube, so it requires very small incisions around the area which, when possible, are placed in strategically discreet locations. An arm lift, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive surgery which requires a larger incision. Depending on the amount and location of the skin that will be removed, the scar may be limited to your armpit area or if may run across the bottom or inside of your upper arm.
- Recovery Time
Because an arm lift is a more complicated surgery, it also requires more time to recover. Every patient is different, but in my 28 years of experience, liposuction patients typically return to work or their daily activities within a few days whereas it takes arm lift patients one to two weeks to reach this stage of the healing process.
The information above represents just a few of the factors that patients should consider when choosing a cosmetic procedure. Ultimately, plastic surgery should be a personal decision you make with the help of a board-certified plastic surgeon. To start discussing your aesthetic goals and learning about your options, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. Franklyn Elliott. Or, to stay up-to-date on the latest plastic surgery news and helpful tips, join me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.