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Brachioplasty – the pros, cons and side effects of surgery

Posted: 04/04/2018


Brachioplasty surgery, often referred to as an arm lift (sometimes unkindly for ‘bingo wings’) is one of the most commonly-performed cosmetic procedures, particularly for women. It is carried out to reduce the extent of loose skin and transform the shape of the upper arms. As it is a less complicated operation than many other plastic surgeries, patients can expect to leave the clinic on the same day as the surgery.

Due to ageing, bodies change shape - some areas more gradually and subtly, others more extensively and noticeably. Sometimes ageing causes sagging of the skin, known as skin ptosis, and this is often deemed undesirable. Sagging can also occur in younger women after weight loss, for hereditary reasons or due to an unhealthy lifestyle. It is known that the skin on the underside of the upper arm is very sensitive and can easily lose its elasticity. Exercise alone may not then achieve the cosmetic result a woman may be looking for so she may want to undergo brachioplasty to tone up her arms. A standard brachioplasty reduces/removes excess sagging skin from the armpit down to the elbow. A limited incision brachioplasty, in comparison, involves an incision into the armpit only and is recommended for patients with a lesser degree of sagging.

Brachioplasty can be very successful and many women are pleased with their results. Of course, before anyone undergoes a cosmetic procedure, including brachioplasty, he or she should be absolutely sure they understand all the risks and potential complications of the operation and that they have chosen the right surgeon for them.

Alison Johnson, associate director at Penningtons Manches, regularly represents women who have undergone cosmetic procedures, including brachioplasty, and regrettably not seen good results. One case involved a lady who had undergone bilateral brachioplasty, which should have been straightforward with a six-week recovery time, but due to poor surgical technique, she suffered infection, the need for skin grafting, a long and painful recovery and was left with disfigured arms and extensive scarring. Her surgeon removed too much skin during her brachioplasty and then found it impossible to close-up her wounds. Skin grafting was the only option for her but it did not work well and became infected, further prolonging her pain, discomfort and recovery.

The clinical negligence team at Penningtons Manches is always happy to speak to you about your concerns if you believe you may have suffered a poor result from a cosmetic procedure.


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Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP is a limited liability partnership registered in England and Wales with registered number OC311575 and is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Penningtons Manches Cooper LLP