Minimal Incision Brachioplasty: A New Option for More Attractive Upper Arms

New York, NY (September, 25, 2001) — Female athletes like Venus and Serena Williams have made tight, toned arms the new fashion accessory -- and women with loose skin and fat deposits in the upper-arm area even more self-conscious about wearing sleeveless clothes. Most women have been reluctant to undergo arm reduction surgery, called "brachioplasty," because of the highly visible scar that runs vertically along the entire length of the inside upper arm. But now a new minimal incision technique, reported in the current issue of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery's Aesthetic Surgery Journal, can significantly reduce arm circumference while concealing the scars that deprive women of the right to bare arms.

Cosmetic plastic surgeons are often confronted with the difficult problem of treating excess upper-arm bulk. In patients with both excess fat and a significant amount of loose skin, lipoplasty (liposuction) alone may reduce the fat but leave the upper arms with unattractive, hanging skin. Plastic surgeon Mark E. Richards, MD, of Rockville, Maryland, reports on nine patients aged 25 to 75 years that underwent the new minimal-incision brachioplasty procedure. Patients' arm circumferences were photographed and measured pre- and postoperatively. With the patient under general anesthesia, incisions in the axilla (armpit) were made in the shape of an asymmetric ellipse. The incisions, and the resultant scars, were confined to this underarm area -- a significant aesthetic improvement compared to the incisions required for the standard technique. After lipoplasty was performed to remove unwanted fat, excess skin was excised. Anchoring sutures were used to control the tension of the wound closure and prevent the underarm scar from widening. The arms were wrapped and patients were cautioned to keep their hands elevated at about heart-level and their arms straight at the elbow for the first two days following surgery to prevent swelling.

The results showed that all patients achieved significant reductions of 15% to 25% in arm circumference measurements, and the resulting scars were smooth, flat and inconspicuous. Although the postoperative appearance of the skin around the incision typically was initially wrinkled, this resolved spontaneously within a couple months as the skin contracted and conformed to underlying tissue. Dr. Richards' conclusion is that the minimal-incision brachioplasty technique can be used as the first choice procedure for most patients seeking arm reduction. Modification of the procedure may be necessary in obese patients or those with poor skin tone and elasticity -- but for some women determined to look more like Venus Williams than Venus De Milo, minimal-incision brachioplasty may provide a better option than standard techniques.


The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world's leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body. ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; Active Members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and nonsurgical aesthetic procedures. International Active Members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.


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