Arm liposuction is a less invasive alternative to an arm lift (brachioplasty); it is performed to remove the loose, hanging skin that often develops on the underside of the upper arm as a result of aging, weight loss or weight gain. Arm liposuction slims the contour of the arm, and is ideal for patients with stubborn areas of localized fat that do not respond to diet and exercise, and who are no more than 10 to 15 pounds overweight. There are four basic types of liposuction: traditional, tumescent, ultrasound-assisted, and laser-assisted.
The Arm Liposuction Procedure
During the arm liposuction procedure, a thin cannula (an instrument similar to a thin straw) is inserted into a tiny incision in the targeted area.
With traditional liposuction, the cannula is moved back and forth manually, which can damage blood vessels and cause significant swelling. Traditional liposuction is often used when large areas of fat are being removed.
With tumescent liposuction, an anesthetic liquid is injected into the tissue, which causes blood vessels to shrink or constrict, resulting in less swelling and bruising.
Ultrasound- and laser-assisted liposuction both liquefy the fat. They use smaller cannula, and are much less invasive the traditional and tumescent liposuction. Laser-assisted liposuction is the only type that firms the skin over the treatment area; with the other types, skin gets firmer over time.
In each type of procedure, fat is suctioned out through the cannula. Once the cannula is removed, incisions are closed with tiny sutures. The procedure, which requires only a local anesthetic, usually takes 1 to 2 hours to perform. Patients can return home the same day.
Recovery from Arm Liposuction
After liposuction, patients have soreness and bruising. Typically, a compression sleeve is worn around the arm for up to 4 weeks. Resting the arms for 4 to 5 days is recommended; most patients are completely recovered after 4 weeks. Scarring from liposuction is minimal because of the small incision size.
Risks of Arm Liposuction
In addition to the risks associated with any surgery, risks related to arm liposuction, depending on the technique used, include the following:
- Light or dark pigmentation
- Contour irregularities
- Nerve and skin damage
Those with severe heart problems or blood-clotting disorders, or who are pregnant, are not candidates for arm liposuction.