How long does it take to recover from an upper arm lift?
You will need a few weeks to recover and heal from an arm lift procedure. It will be at least one or two weeks before you can return to work and about ten days before you can drive. Your surgeon will let you know how long your recovery will be. Your surgeon will also give you and your caregiver detailed instructions about your postoperative care after your surgery, including information about:
- Drains, if they have been placed
- Typical symptoms you will experience
- Potential signs of complications
Follow all the patient care instructions your surgeon provides, including information about wearing compression garments and the level of activity that is safe for you. Your surgeon will alert you to the signs of problems to watch for, such as signs of infection. It is also important to know that the amount of time it takes for recovery varies greatly among individuals.
See options for short-term recovery locations in Aftercare & Recovery.
What can I expect immediately after my upper arm lift surgery?
- As the anesthesia wears off, you may feel dizzy, disoriented, and nauseous. These sensations should pass within a few hours.
- Your arms may be in a compression garment or wrap immediately following surgery. Wear this exactly as directed. Remove it only as directed for cleansing incisions or showering.
- Depending on the extent of your upper arm lift, you may have tubes in your incision to drain away fluid. Your surgeon should provide you with detailed instructions for managing your drains, changing your bandages, and showering during recovery. You also may need to put ointment on your incisions to reduce discomfort.
- You must have a responsible adult or nurse take you home and remain with you continuously for at least 24 hours after surgery. You should have someone help you to the bathroom the first few times in case you experience dizziness or lightheadedness.
- Drink only liquids for the first few hours after surgery. Advance slowly to small, light meals. If you experience nausea or vomiting more than once, call your surgeon. Excessive vomiting and retching can result in bleeding beneath the skin.
- Gently get out of bed as soon as possible after your surgery. Sit with your legs hanging over the edge of the bed or chair for a few minutes before standing. You should be up and walking the day after surgery, but take it slow. It is important to walk to discourage swelling and to prevent blood clots in the legs. However, avoid strenuous activities that involve arm movements, such as raising your arms over your head or lifting because it can trigger unnecessary fluid retention in the treated areas. A balance of rest and reduced activity will speed up your recovery.
- You will have a mild to moderate amount of pain and discomfort. You can control this pain with oral medications. Any discomfort and pain should begin to decrease within 48 hours after surgery. If you have a significant increase in pain after this period, call your surgeon.
- Expect bruising and swelling. These symptoms will peak within the first 36 to 48 hours after surgery and will gradually subside over the next ten to fourteen days. To minimize swelling, sleep with your arms elevated with pillows for two weeks after the surgery.
What can I expect during my upper arm lift recovery?
- During the first week, avoid activities that raise your blood pressure and cause bleeding at the operative site. Walking is the safest exercise, especially during the first week. Avoid exercises that directly stress the area of your surgery for a full four weeks.
- Do not subject your incisions to excessive force, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing.
- During the first two weeks following your upper arm lift, attempt to sleep with your arms elevated on two or three pillows. This ensures drainage of fluids from your upper extremities, reducing inflammation and tension on your incision lines.
- Your surgeon may remove your dressings and wraps on your first postoperative visit, probably within five days of your surgery. You can then take a shower. After showering, simply pat your incisions dry and begin wearing your arm compression garment.
- Arm swelling may take three to five weeks to subside. Keep your arms elevated to shorten this period. Walking, stretching, and moving your arms and legs while sitting will reduce swelling and prevent clotting. If you feel pain or pulling in the incision area, stop the activity.
- If you are taking pain medication, it is not safe to drive a car within 24 hours, since the medication alters your reflexes and alertness.
- After a month, you can start cardiovascular activities, such as riding a stationary bicycle or brisk walking. Avoid heavy lifting, contact sports, and jogging for up to six weeks. By six weeks, you should be able to resume your normal level of activity.
- Everyone’s body is different, and many factors contribute to scar healing. Your scars will be firm and pink for about six weeks. It will take at least nine to twelve months for the scars on your arms to flatten and lighten in color.