The human body has many areas where fat tends to accumulate –not only the stomach, hips and thighs, but also the upper arms. Those affected often have to select larger size clothing than is necessary for their body proportions simply because the area around the shoulders is wider. If the fat is stored on the underside of the upper arm, it can cause restricted mobility and a build-up of sweat in the underarm. This in turn increases the risk of inflammation, yeast infections and abscesses in the sweat glands. Plastic surgeons can resolve all of these problems by performing liposuction on the arms.
Liposuction on the arms does not usually require general anaesthesia. The only preparations needed are an examination and consultation with the cosmetic surgeon. Before beginning the procedure, the plastic surgeon injects a mixture of isotonic water, sodium carbonate, adrenalin and a local anaesthetic. The mixture numbs the area to be treated and helps loosen the fat cells from the connective tissue. The medical term for this procedure is tumescent anaesthesia and was developed by American dermatologist Jeffrey A. Klein.
For a long time, cosmetic clinics used cannulas with a diameter of up to eight millimetres. This often required the necessary access points to be sutured. At the Klinik am Rhein, we use so-called microcannulas for liposuction on the arms. They have a maximum diameter of 2.5 millimetres. These cannulas can be inserted under the skin through very small incisions, which are closed at the end of the procedure, making special wound treatment unnecessary.
Nowadays, liposuction is performed using vibrations (PAL= Power-Assisted Lipoplasty), which involves the use of a special electrical handpiece that makes the microcannulas vibrate. It is very gentle on the important surrounding structures such as connective tissue, lymphatic vessels, blood vessels and nerves, and the liposuction can be performed in a very precise manner that is gentle on the tissue. The removed fat can be reprocessed and used to specifically contour other areas of the body, for example the face, breasts, buttocks and legs.
The connective tissue loosens as a result of the necessary forwards and backwards movements of the cannula during the liposuction. Cavities are also created once the fat cells are removed. The tissue must therefore be compressed after the procedure. To do so, the patient has to wear a special compression garment for 5–6 weeks. The loosened tissue also needs sufficient time to heal. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid strenuous exercise and heavy work that can strain the upper arm muscles. Patients can immediately start socialising again as the compression bandages can be well concealed under long sleeves.
A considerable amount of excess skin is often left over after liposuction on the arms. This is particularly the case if the patient had extensive amounts of fat cells or has had these fat deposits for a long period of time. Patients do not have to simply accept their arms looking that way. The plastic surgeons at our Klinik am Rhein can combine liposuction in the upper arms with a surgical arm lift. The necessary incisions are made in the underside of the upper arms. They are barely noticeable if the wounds heal well. An arm lift can be performed with a local anaesthetic and twilight anaesthesia. General anaesthesia may be necessary if the liposuction on the arms is to be combined with a breast lift or a tummy tuck, for example.