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The Healing Timeline for Arm Lift Surgery

By Brian Kobienia, MD, FACS on October 07, 2016


A person's armThe patients at our Edina cosmetic plastic surgery center always appreciate our attention to post-op care. We've been told that by providing information on recovery and healing, we help put patients' minds at ease. This is very important for body contouring and sculpting surgeries, which can be extensive and require special care.

With this in mind, we'd like to consider the general recovery timeline for arm lift surgery (brachioplasty). You may be surprised to learn what is involved.

How Much Time Should I Take Off from Work?

For an arm lift, it's generally a good idea to schedule two to three weeks off of work. More time may be required if you undergo an extended arm lift just given the size of the surgical scar and the extent of the surgery.

Keep in mind that while you may take two to three weeks off of work, you may need to avoid certain work activities for another week or so until you are fully healed. This is especially true for people who have physical strenuous or demanding jobs that involve heavy lifting and major bodily strain.

What to Expect Immediately After Arm Lift Surgery

Immediately after your arm lift surgery, it's not uncommon to experience pain, discomfort, soreness, and grogginess. This is all quite common when someone is coming out from under the effects of general anesthetic. The patient should have a loved one present to drive them home and to help them around the house with basic errands as well. This ensures safety and proper recovery.

What to Expect During the First Week of Recovery

During the first week of recovery, patients can expect issues with pain, bruising, and swelling. The pain can be managed with recommended medications, while the bruising and swelling can be addressed through proper use of the compression garment and cold compresses as directed. Patients should get ample rest during this time, though they are encouraged to walk lightly around the home in order to promote circulation and avoid blood clots.

There is usually a follow-up visit with your surgeon by the end of the first week to see how you are recovering. This also allows you surgeon to check on drainage tubes and incision sites to make sure all is in order. Be sure to attend all of your follow-up visits as scheduled to help with the healing process.

What to Expect by the End of the First Month

By the end of the first month, patients should typically be back at work and able to perform many of the physical activities they were prohibited from doing in the early phase of recovery. Pain should no longer be a major issue, and major bruising should have faded. Some discoloration around the incision sites and arms is normal. Major swelling should have abated as well, though minor swelling can persist for a few months after surgery.

At the other follow-up visits with the plastic surgeon, additional instructions and recommendations can be made with regard to post-surgical healing.

What to Expect in the Months Ahead

In the months after the arm lift, patients will be able to return to life as normal. Pain and swelling will no longer be an issue, and there should be a noticeable improvement in the overall appearance of the arms, particularly the shoulders and triceps.

Post-surgical scarring is a reality after any surgery, though patients should notice improvements in scar appearance as the months go by. These scars should start to fade by the end of the first year. While noticeable, they are placed in such a matter that they ought not to be so intrusive.

Learn More About Arm Lift Surgery

For more information about arm lift surgery and how it can help you look your best, be sure to contact our cosmetic plastic surgery center today. The team at our practice will work with you to ensure you heal properly and free from complications.

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