Risks & Complications of Arm Lift Surgery

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Obviously most patients will experience few or no side effects from their arm lift surgery, but it is important that you know about the potential risks so that you can recognise them if you find that you are one of the unlucky few who are effected.

Risks due to the general anaesthetic

The fact that arm lift surgery is generally carried out under general anaesthetic means that it involves an element of personal risk. So it is important not to be blasé about having arm lift surgery just because it is a purely cosmetic procedure. Your first clue to the risks of arm lift surgery will be the fact that your surgeon will hand you a type of “informed consent form” that they will need you to sign before they can agree to carry out your arm lift surgery. They do this to ensure that you understand all the risks that are associated with the surgery and you should feel free to ask for confirmation of any of the details of the procedure that you may have questions about or that you feel are unclear.

Similar to all general anaesthetic operations, you may have an allergic reaction to one of the drugs used by the surgeons or a potential complication from the general anaesthesia itself which could cause respiratory injury and/or death. General anaesthesia can cause injury to your airways and circulation system with the worst consequences including lung collapse, blood clots and deep vein thrombosis all of which could lead to you needing further hospital treatment. If you have a history (or family history) of circulatory problems (especially aneurisms) then you will need to discuss these with your surgeon before you have your arm lift surgery.

Risks of extensive scaring or incorrect healing

If you suffer from keloid (where your body forms red scars that are raised above the surface of your skin), then you will almost certainly be left with scarring after your arm lift surgery. You might even find that the end scar is more unsightly that the original excess sagging skin, so you might want to reconsider other options. Even if you do not suffer from keloid then it is possible that the scar you are left with after your arm surgery may become discoloured or infected. These complications could require further surgery and/or a course of antibiotics depending on the severity of the inability of your wound to heal properly and your personal preference as to whether you are happier to have the problem surgically corrected or just continue with the scarring in place. In some patients areas of skin may die completely and in this case further surgery would certainly be required, however you should realise that severe infections and skin death are extremely rare complications of arm lift surgery.

Complications that could require further surgery or treatment

Another complication that would require further surgery is post-operative bleeding (where blood accumulates within your arm and surgery is required to drain it out). Similar drainage surgery could be required if you experience fluid accumulation and either complications could lead you to need a blood transfusion to replace the blood that you had lost through bleeding.

The very nature of arm lift surgery will cause a change in the position of your skin over the surface of your arms and could therefore result in areas of skin deformity due to irregularities in the muscle tone or your arms. It is also possible that you might be left with areas of reduced skin sensitivity due to nerves to your skin being disrupted during the surgery. In a similar way (but even more rarely) you may be left with chronic pain due to nerves being trapped during your arm lift surgery.

However, you will most probably not experience any of these severe complications. Slightly less severe (but potentially more frequent) complications from arm lift surgery include a lengthy healing process, pain during healing and a feeling of tightness and/or disappointment with the final results.

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