Arm Lift: Recovery – All You need to Know

by Dr. Jason Martin 

April 21, 2020

All you need to know about recovering from arm lift surgery?

Most are surprised to learn that recovery from arm lift surgery is easier than what is imagined.  Pain is rarely a problem.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be uncomfortable but any pain after this surgery is easily managed with pain medications and supportive undergarments.  Although your return to physical activities will not be as quick as other surgeries, there is not much limitation to normal daily activities besides a decrease in the allowable range of motion of your arms. Swelling is the biggest issue and that is easily reduced by arm elevation and by wearing a comprehensive garment. Our patient’s definitely feel a sense of relief when the surgery is completed. With the complete removal of the hanging weight and skin on the upper arms, the mental part of the recovery is easy.  And the best part, your arms will finally look toned!  

Although recovery times can vary with arm lift surgery, in general it will take you:

  • 1 week to get back on your feet and return to normal daily activities
  • 1-2 weeks to return to normal daily activities that use full arm range of motion
  • 5-6 weeks to return to your normal workout schedule with the arms

There are many tricks to help you feel more comfortable during recovery.  The use of local anesthesia during surgery really does help with comfort immediately after surgery.  Intermittent icing is sometimes helpful if ok’d by your surgeon.  Next we rely on pain medications, muscle relaxants and compression garments in the first week after surgery to minimize any discomfort and pain.  After 1 week, pain medication is usually not necessary and non narcotics like Tylenol and Ibuprofen can be used instead.  Also, if surgical drains were placed, they are usually removed within the first week of surgery. Usually by 2 weeks, all medications can be discontinued.  The length of use of the supportive undergarment will vary and just depends on how it makes you feel.  Most like the support and use it for at least the first 4 weeks of recovery.

After 1 month, you should be at your baseline but in many cases, getting back into your full exercise routine may take a little longer.  Exercise can cause swelling which can be uncomfortable, especially in the first 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.  It is best to ease back into this routine slowly and temporarily change up some of the exercises if necessary.

If your recovery seems slow, treatments like lymphatic massage and LED light therapy can really make a difference.  These are especially helpful after the first 4 weeks following your surgery.  Also, avoiding alcohol and smoking during recovery will be absolutely necessary as these two things will extend your recovery time.

Although there will always be some tough times during any surgical recovery, arm lift surgery recovery is easily managed.  Be confident with your choice and embrace your results.  This surgery is amazingly transformative and your sagging and heavy arms can actually look toned when it is all said and done.  As there is usually only a few weeks of discomfort, it will be absolutely worth the short period of downtime.

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