When I was considering having arm lift surgery, the internet was a tremendous help assisting me in making the decision of having surgery. I wanted to contribute my experience for others that are in my situation and need help deciding if surgery is for them.
Back in 2013 I underwent massive weight loss. I had made the decision that living the fat life wasn't something I wanted. I wasn't happy with my body and I did something about it. I changed my eating habits to a low carb, high fat diet. I exercised every day of the week and experienced significant weight loss each month. My body eventually morphed from a size 24 to a 10. I had lost over 100 pounds, going from 300 to 150 pounds. I was proud of myself and what I had done, but was left with 'bat wings' that impacted both my physical and mental health. On the physical side, I was getting infections under my arm and I hated running or doing any movement where my arms rapidly moved. I could hear my excess skin slapping against my body, which created a very distinct sound that horrified me. Even though my clothes had shrunk down, my skin did not. The psychological stress of should I do this, is it vain or worthwhile weight heavily on me. I have 2 kids and a loving husband. I kept asking myself if it was worth spending the time and money to get rid of my saggy skin. The surgery was not cheap and not covered by insurance. After many late nights discussing the surgery with my husband, we decided it would be best for me to consult with the plastic surgeon who had done my tummy tuck previously.
When I initially went in for my consultation, I left the doctor's office saying I felt like I wanted the procedure the next day. But when I considered how much the surgery was going to cost, what the downtime was going to be, my decision to have surgery wasn't so clear. I spent a lot of time thinking about if my procedure was necessary, eventually deciding I didn't want to have surgery at that time.
Over the next few months I made what was not an easy decision. I decided that proceeding with surgery was the best option for me. I wanted to do my arms because I found it difficult to wear sleeveless clothing or bathing suits, and being that I live in a warm environment, this was tough to live with. I was too embarrassed to show my arms. I found it easier to cover my legs than my arms. It may sound so cliche, but I really wanted to be comfortable in my own skin. This is about me. I want to be able to get into a pool or the ocean without thinking about if others are looking at me.
My operation was performed at an out patient surgical facility and not at a hospital. I was under IV sedation, which is not the same as general anesthesia. I arrived at the facility around 8:30 a.m. and left around 3:30 that evening.
The first evening after surgery I didn’t feel so great. I was not able to feed myself or reach for stuff because I couldn't lift my arms and was fed by mother who stayed with me and my husband. I was only able to eat a little bit of soup that first night, but fortunately I wasn't nauseas. I also wore a compression garment that came down to almost my elbow and belly. My Incision was about 9 inches, stretching from my underarm down to below my bra area and nearly to my elbow. 7 cm of loose skin was removed from my body. The compression garment kept me really tight and on a scale of 10, I was at about 5 with pain. I was very grateful that my doctor prescribed me percocet, which kept the pain at bay. My arms were swollen, but I could tell instantly that they were smaller which made me very excited.
The first day after surgery I was able to remove my compression garment and gauze. My mother helped me clean my wounds with hydrogen peroxide and wrapped me in fresh gauze. Then we put my compression garment back on. Every hour I would apply ice packs to my wounds to help reduce swelling. Or at least I applied them until I got lazy.
By the Wednesday after surgery (I had surgery on Monday), I was finally able to take a shower. My body and hair were smelling pretty funky at that point, so it was greatly needed. I still had difficulty brushing my teeth and shampooing my hair, but with a little assistance I was able to accomplish these two tasks. I also made the mistake of getting on a scale and went up in weight, but this was due the fluid collection that causes swelling. On the flip side, I was able to brush my teeth on my own at this point. I also took a walk outside for the first time.
At Day 3 of my recovery, I was able to drive but needed to wear a rash guard to protect my incisions from the sun (would cause them to heal poorly). I returned to work for a few hours but recommend that those of you who have this surgery take at least a week off from work.
After the first week of my recovery, I was doing most of my normal activity, sans heavy lifting or rigorous exercise. One of the worst parts of my recovery was the itching I felt around my incisions. With many inches of incisions on my body, I was constantly itchy. So itchy, that I asked my surgeon for some steroid injections, which he reluctantly obliged to do. I also applied caladryl pretty religiously and even took Benadryl and Zantac. It was later learned that I was likely allergic to the sutures and that's what caused me to be so unusually itchy. I did find that really cold showers helped relieve my itching to a certain degree.
My surgery was almost 2 years ago and I am very happy I decided to go through with it. I would do it all over again if I could (although I wouldn't want to pay for it again!) My incisions have healed well and my arm skin looks great. I'm excited to finally be wearing sleeveless outfits after so many years of hiding my arms. I think I got the best results I could have hoped for and this surgery has really helped my weight loss journey come to a satisfactory conclusion.
I have posted before and after photos of my arms to help those of you considering this surgery. Wish you all the best!