Scarring is simply part of the reality of surgery. It’s the way our body inevitably heals when the skin is cut, and it’s not something that can be entirely avoided. Before any plastic or reconstructive surgery, I ensure that my patients understand what kind of scars to expect and that they have made the informed choice to exchange their excess skin, unwanted fat, or other cosmetic issue for the scars that are necessary. This is an easier decision for some patients than others. For instance, liposuction scars are so small that they are barely visible, but for other procedures, good results are only possible with a larger and more noticeable incision. One example is brachioplasty, also called an arm lift.
Excess skin that sags from the bottom of the upper arm is a common complaint. Gravity takes a toll when the skin thins with age, but the issue tends to be particularly severe in patients who have lost dramatic amounts of weight, because the skin may not be able to “bounce back” and re-form to the thinner structure of the arm. A standard, traditional arm lift corrects this using an incision along the underside of the arm, from the armpit to the elbow. This allows for the skin to be returned to a taut, even firmness, but the downside is that it does leave a rather significant scar.
A typical arm lift scar is only visible when you raise your arms, and not when your arms are at your sides, but understandably, patients want to keep their scars as minimal as possible. If you have a smaller amount of excess skin on your upper arms and the excess skin is located near your armpit, you may be a candidate for a limited incision brachioplasty, in which the incision is made only in the armpit area. This makes the scar easier to conceal with clothing. Alternatively, what appears to be sagging skin on your upper arm is sometimes just excess fat. For patients who only have fat to remove and whose skin is still youthfully strong and elastic, liposuction alone may actually be the better option. Keep in mind, however, that you should choose a plastic surgery based on your true needs, not on the scar it may leave. After all, if you find yourself with results that aren’t what you had hoped for, you’ll simply be left with a new scar in addition to the cosmetic concern you already had.
Regardless of which procedure you have, one of the most important elements in keeping your scarring to a minimum is follow all of your aftercare instructions during your recovery. The smoothness and discreetness of your scar depends on how well your body heals, and while this is partially just based on your unique anatomy, you can certainly help the process along by avoiding straining the area, caring for the incision properly, and taking your post-surgical instructions seriously.
Plastic surgery has its pros and cons, and for some patients, scarring is an issue they need to thoroughly consider before moving forward with their procedure. But as a double board-certified plastic surgeon, I make sure to take the time to speak with each patient at length and guide them through the process, so my patients are generally thrilled with their results and find their aesthetic improvement to be well worth the scars that are left behind.
To find out more about whether brachioplasty or another plastic surgery can help you find your confidence, schedule a consultation with me, Dr. Franklyn Elliott. Or, for more plastic surgery tips and healthcare information, follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.