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After brachioplasty surgery how long must you wait until you can lift your arms?

Q:

I had brachioplasty surgery two weeks ago.  I was told not to lift my arms for approximately two months.  However, this is not a realistic time frame as I need to return to work.  I have lifted my arms to view the scar.  When I do, I am limited in how far I can lift the arms because my skin pulls, creating a web between my chest and arm.  I had breast augmentation at the same time.  Do you think the doctor has taken too much skin?  Should I worry that I will need surgery to open scar tissue?

A:

These issues and concerns must be addressed with your surgeon and their staff.  It sounds like you had some rather extensive procedures.  Results at two weeks are certainly not the same as long term results many months later.

Best,

 

Gary R. Culbertson, MD, FACS

 

A:

If you are having the problem you mention after brachioplasty, you need to discuss them with your surgeon very soon.  You also must get your arms up as soon as possible.  The shoulder joint has a rather loose capsule when the arm is down in order to provide enough tissue to allow raising your arm.  When the arm is held down, especially after surgery, you risk this capsule shortening and permanently limiting your ability to raise your arm.  I close the wound at the time of brachioplasty with the arm elevated and start my patients raising the arm immediately after surgery to prevent this problem. It is also easier to stretch the skin if it is tight as long as you are careful than it is to stretch the shoulder capsule if it contracts.

A:

Brachioplasty– In general, after a brachioplasty one should not lift your arms above 90°for at least 3 weeks. After that, one can realistically begin lifting your arms. At 4 weeks, one can resume any active range of motion without restrictions.

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