Potential Side Effects of Arm Surgery

Arm surgery, also known as brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove excess loose skin from the upper arm so as to have lean and fit looking upper arms. This procedure is not recommended if you are looking to loose weight or eliminate fat or cellulite from your upper arms. It is specifically meant to contour the upper arms by removing the loose, sagging skin that has lost its elasticity, or sagging skin that remains as a result of weight loss. Arm surgery also has its own set of side effects. Bleeding and swelling of the hands are more common potential side effects of an arm surgery. Other potential side effects of arm surgery are as follows:


Bruising is another side effect that can occur after arm surgery. It usually begins at the incision site and can spread to the rest of the arms.

Swelling and Numbness

At times, patients display visible and obvious swelling of the arms, and in other cases, numbness around the area of incisions. Both the swelling and the numbness may take 3 to 4 months to fade away.

Pain and Discomfort

You may experience pain and discomfort post surgery. Pain killers are prescribed to alleviate the effects. At times, you are advised to rest your hands on a pillow at a higher level to reduce the discomfort.


Scarring is a highly probable potential and visible side effect of arm surgery. Scars can be unattractive, and making a choice between getting rid of excess loose skin at the risk of probably landing up with visibly unattractive scars, can be a tough trade off to make. Depending upon the degree of deformity (drooping) or ptosis, the surgeon either makes zig-zag, elliptical or curved incisions from the elbow to the armpit. Depending upon the level and the type of incisions, scarring becomes a primary concern post surgery. The expertise of the surgeon, post surgery care and your body's capability to heal quickly can limit the appearance of scars.

Accumulation of Fluids

In a few rare cases, the arm surgery may lead to the localized collection of hematoma (blood) or seroma. Surgical intervention would be required to drain out the fluids in such cases. This additional surgery to drain the accumulated fluids can be an undesirable added procedure.


Any surgery or procedure involving incisions always has the risk of infection. In arm surgery, if the pus and blood begin to appear, the chances of an infection increase and adds another problem that requires medical intervention.

Other Complications

If you have undergone mastectomy, you are not recommended to undergo arm surgery since the possibility of your lymph glands being damaged during mastectomy are quite high. This in turn could lead to undesirable persistent side effects such as redness and swelling of the arms. In very rare cases, patients may react to the anesthetic, the surgeon may accidentally damage a nerve, or the procedure may render an uneven lop sided upper arm. In a few cases, the procedure may also lead to blood clots.

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