Recovery Period after Arm Lift Surgery


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During your initial recovery period you will probably have restricted arm movements and you will not be able to lift anything heavy for a while. Due to these restrictions it would be a good idea to prepare your house (or place of recovery) in order to minimise the amount of work that you need to do immediately after your arm lift surgery. If you have a close friend or family member who is willing to act as your “recovery buddy” then it would be a good idea to explain to them what you have done to prepare you recovery environment so that they know where to find things and understand the effort that you have put into making your recovery as quick and successful as possible. For example you may wish to ensure that you have done all the housework in advance (such as vacuuming the house, taking out the bins, doing your laundry and putting clean bedding on your bed). The effects of the general anaesthetic and the extra energy that your body will use in order to heal the wounds may mean that you feel the cold more after your surgery. It might be a good idea to prepare to have some extra blankets on your bed or on the back of your favourite chair/sofa. In general it is better to over prepare than to not prepare enough and cause yourself to be uncomfortable.

You will want to wear tops that are either loose fitting around your arms or sleeveless whilst your wounds heal, so make sure that these are all clean and in a place where you can easily reach them. For example they should not be on the top shelf of a cupboard somewhere where you would have to reach up and stretch your wounds to get to them! In the same way you should ensure that nothing that you intend on using during recover (such as crockery, cutlery, TV remote and food) is in a location that would require you to stretch your arms too much or lift anything heavy as this will stretch your wounds and lengthen your recovery time. (Not to mention that it would probably cause you pain too!)

Prepare your house so that you can get some rest immediately after returning home from your arm lift surgery

The general anaesthetic will make you feel quite “woozy” so you need to ensure that you reduce the risks of tripping and falling during and using your recovery buddy as a walking support during your first trip home is a very good idea! Again, over preparation is better than a fall, so you might want to ensure that you are wearing non-slip shoes (or slippers) for your return trip and during your recovery period. Make sure that you have good lighting in all the rooms of your house that you use so you reduce the risk of tripping over things that you can’t see in the dark too. Although you might simply want to get home and fall asleep after your surgery so you will need to ensure that you are easily able to turn off all your lights and shut your curtains so that you can do this if you wish during day-light hours as well as during the night. This is because your body will need plenty of rest to assist with the healing process.

Prepare to stick to your healthy diet and lifestyle throughout your recovery period

Whilst it is obviously very important to be healthy before you general anaesthetic, it is equally as important to ensure that you have plenty of (healthy) food in the house ready for your return so that you can make sure that your body is supplied with all the nutrients and energy that it needs in order to heal itself. In addition, this preparation will mean that you will not need to go to the shops in the early days of your recovery as you would certainly find it difficult to carry lots of bags back home! If you want to be really organised you could even buy individual packages of food and drink as these will be lighter to pick up and cook with. This will reduce the amount of weight that you are lifting with your arms as they heal and will allow them to recover quicker.

Your recover time will depend on the size of your scar and the speed of your natural healing process as well as the existence of any underlying health conditions that you might have. If you work in a job that requires you to lift heavy loads or move your arms a lot then you might want to discuss a period of time off with your employer and make sure that your boss understands that you may need to extend this period in the event of complications. You surgeon may be able to advice you on how soon you should aim to resume work (and any other activities or hobbies that you carry out) as this will be very individual to you. Ultimately you will have to decide for yourself when you feel ready to take up manual work again. In general you should expect to have a bandage over your wounds for a couple of weeks before the stitches are removed and you should avoid any heavy lifting for about a month.

It is important that your immediate friends and family understand that you will need to take some time off to relax and recover. The more information that you give to them the more they will be able to help you. Even something as simple as having someone to run to the shops to get you more milk could be helpful!

Straight after the Operation

Your surgeon will probably have prescribed you with painkillers to take during your recovery period. These will not only make you more comfortable whilst your wounds heal but they will also reduce the swelling around your wounds. If your surgeon did not prescribe any painkillers for you and you are in a lot of pain then you could simply purchase some over the counter.

Advice on showering and your arm dressings

Different clinics have different advice about how long you should wait to have a shower after your arm lift surgery. In addition this will depend on your personal preference. For example you might get away without showering for a week after the surgery if you are staying at home and not seeing too many people, but you might want to wash the rest of your body earlier if you are planning on recovering in an environment where you need to interact with large numbers of other people. It is mostly important that you do not disturb the dressings that your surgeon will have placed over your wounds too early. You will be told how long they need to remain on for and until they come off you need to ensure that they are kept dry and clean. This may involve not showering but could mean that you could take a bath if you were able to ensure that the dressings around your arms remained out of the water. Your arm dressings will protect your wounds and reduce your risk of infection so it is incredibly important that you continue to look after them throughout your recovery period. You may have to redress your wounds for a while once your initial dressings are removed and your surgical team will show you how to do this in order to assist your natural healing and prevent infection.

Having a feeling of tightness in the skin around your arms

You will find that your arms will feel quite tight at first as you will not be used to the feeling of not having sagging skin! This is completely normal and your skin will stretch a little after your surgery in a way that reduces the feeling of tightness whilst retaining the new contours of your arms. It is important that you do not over stretch the skin around your arms too early on in the recovery process as you may risk tearing your wounds, but once your wounds are healed you will be able to begin using your arms again as normal. You might find that wearing slightly tighter fitting tops reduces some of the discomfort caused by this feeling of tightness but equally, wearing loose fitting (or sleeveless) tops might be more comfortable. The best advice in this respect is to wear whatever makes you feel more comfortable.

Things that could potentially cause problems once you have returned home after your arm lift surgery

There are a number of potential things that could go wrong after your arm lift surgery once you are back at home so it is important that, once you have travelled back to your home (or your place of recovery) after your arm lift surgery, you continue to monitor your own health and the rate of wound healing around your arms. Your surgeon will have given you numerous contact details of people to phone if you are worried about your recovery and emergency numbers that you can call if you feel that something harmful has happened to you as a result of your surgery. Events that require you to call the emergency number would include extreme bleeding from your wounds, if you become short of breath, have chest pains or palpitations (or any unusual heart beat) or if you are seen to collapse. You should also contact your surgery if you have any additional pain that occurs suddenly or is severe or if your wounds become infected. It is important that you contact your surgeon sooner rather than later if you have any concerns. It is better to contact them unnecessarily than for you to not phone and ignore a potentially life threatening occurrence. From your surgeons point of view they would prefer to see you for a quick consultation to discuss your concerns and monitor your healing process instead of seeing you when you problem has had time to worsen until it required hospitalisation!


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