Liposuction of the arm concurrent with brachioplasty in the massive weight loss patient: is it safe?

Plast Reconstr Surg. 2013 Feb;131(2):357-365. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182789de9.


Background: Brachioplasty continues to be a sought-after procedure among the massive weight loss population. Residual adiposity of the upper arm can make this procedure more difficult. The authors sought to determine the safety of arm liposuction outside the region of excision with concomitant excisional brachioplasty.

Methods: Data were analyzed from a prospective registry of massive weight loss patients who underwent brachioplasty alone or with concurrent arm liposuction. Variables examined included age, sex, body mass index, method of weight loss, medical comorbidities, and smoking status. Outcomes included complications such as seroma, wound dehiscence, infection, hematoma, lymphedema, and need for revision. Multivariate analyses were performed to assess outcome measures.

Results: One hundred forty-four patients (139 women and five men; mean body mass index, 29.6 ± 4.1 kg/m; mean age, 46 ± 10.7 years) underwent brachioplasty. Sixty-four patients had concomitant arm liposuction at the time of brachioplasty. The remaining 80 patients underwent excisional brachioplasty alone. Despite significantly higher operative body mass indices among those undergoing concurrent liposuction, no significant differences in complication rates were seen between the liposuction and excision-alone cohorts for seroma (19.1 percent versus 23.1 percent), wound dehiscence (7.9 percent versus 2.6 percent), infection (4.8 percent versus 6.4 percent), hematoma (3.2 percent versus 0 percent), or lymphedema (3.2 percent versus 1.3 percent). Revision rates were similar between the two groups (9.5 percent with liposuction and 8.9 percent without liposuction).

Conclusion: Liposuction can be performed safely and effectively outside the region of excision at the time of brachioplasty without the need for prior debulking or staged arm-contouring procedures.

Clinical question/level of evidence: Therapeutic, III.

MeSH terms

  • Arm / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy / adverse effects*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Weight Loss*