While an arm lift is considered safe and low-risk, it is not risk-free. In 2005, a Mayo Clinic study found minor complications in 25% of the cases.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), 10,000 arm lifts were performed in 2004—a 30-fold increase over 2000. ASPS reports that the increase is likely due to the rising popularity of weight-loss surgery. After patients lose a significant amount of weight, the skin on the entire body, including the face, arms, and abdomen, permanently lose their ability to shrink. This means that after weight loss, patients can have stretch marks and sagging skin that needs to be removed by plastic surgery.
Some of the complications that patients experienced in the Mayo Clinic study, included fluid collection under the skin (10%), poor scarring (10%), skin infection (8%), abscesses under the skin, (3%) and wound separation (8%). Temporary nerve injuries occurred in 5% of the patients. Of the 40 patients studied, one experienced prolonged numbness of one forearm and hand. Another developed pain in one forearm and hand.
Plastic surgeons should consult with their patients about the different options of arm lifts available, including the risks and benefits involved.
[www.wcfcourier.com, August 30, 2006]