When it comes to having any surgical procedure there is always a risk involved. If you’re considering arm lift surgery, or brachioplasty, your surgeon will explain the potential complications before you decide to go ahead. Of course, if your doctor did not think it was safe in your particular case, they would caution against having the procedure altogether.
Brachioplasty is a fairly straightforward surgery in concept and the risks are low. Here, one of our top surgeons Miss Judith Hunter explains the potential complications from arm lift surgery.
What are the possible risks of arm lift surgery?
The following are the potential complications that are specific to arm lift surgery:
- Asymmetry – there may be subtle differences between the appearance of the arms after surgery.
- Seroma – sometimes a collection of fluid can occur in the arm. If this happens, it will need to be drained by a needle in the clinic.
- Wound breakdown – it is not uncommon for wounds to gape open a little after surgery and with brachioplasty in particular, there is a delicate balance between a good contour and a tight closure. This results in some wound breakdown. This means that you will need dressing changes for a little longer than two to three weeks. The wounds will eventually heal well although the scars may be a little lumpy.
- Dog ears – in plastic surgery ‘dog ear’ is used to describe a point or fold at the ends of the surgical scars. These usually settle down but it can take several months. If they do not settle, they can be trimmed in a simple procedure with only a local anaesthetic.
- Nerve damage – close to where the operation takes place there are superficial nerves that may be damaged by surgery. This can vary from a patch of numbness in your upper inner arm to shooting pain in and around the scar. The ulnar nerve is a major nerve in your arm and close to the elbow but it would be very unusual if it were to be damaged by surgery.
- Arm and/or shoulder stiffness - We encourage patients to avoid putting any strain on the wound whilst it is healing and advise you not to raise your arms above shoulder level for two to three weeks. It is important after this time period that you do some simple shoulder exercises to prevent stiffness.
What are other potential risks in general surgery?
It is possible for a blood clot to occur in the legs or for the lungs to develop a chest infection after any general anaesthetic although there is a low risk of this occurring. We do everything we can to prevent this from happening. During the operation, you will have compression stockings and calf compressors on and you will be advised to walk around as soon as you can after surgery.
Following surgery, it is normal to be a little bruised and swollen, however, it is unusual to have excessive ongoing bleeding. If this happens, the affected arm will swell up soon after the procedure or there will be excessive bleeding from the suture line. It is possible but rare that you would need to return to the operating theatre for it to be corrected.
If you are considering arm surgery, do not hesitate to book a first consultation at Miss Hunter’s clinic now.