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Arm lift surgery generally safe, minor risks need to be considered, Mayo Clinic finds

ROCHESTER, Minn. -- Mayo Clinic plastic surgeons report that surgery to remove excess skin and fat in the upper arm, known as an "arm lift," is generally low risk. Minor complications may arise in approximately 25 percent of cases.

"We concluded that an arm lift is a safe procedure, but there are complications associated with it that surgeons and patients should be aware of," says James Knoetgen, III, M.D., Mayo Clinic plastic surgeon and lead study investigator. "Overall, the complication rate is relatively low, and the large majority of complications are minor. The only concerning complication we encountered in our study was injury to or irritation of sensory nerves in the arm that can cause numbness in the forearms, and rarely, pain in the hand and forearm."

In the Mayo Clinic study, the types of complications found to arise following arm lift surgery included fluid collections under the skin (10 percent), poor scarring (10 percent), skin infection (7.5 percent), abscesses under the skin (2.5 percent) and wound separation (7.5 percent). Nerve injuries occurred in 5 percent of the patients; one patient experienced prolonged numbness of one forearm and hand, and another patient developed pain in one forearm and hand. None of the patients required operative treatment for the complications.

Of the 40 patients studied, five had parts of their arm lifts revised, four to make changes in the skin appearance and one to have arm liposuction.

Dr. Knoetgen and Steven Moran, M.D., also a Mayo Clinic plastic surgeon, undertook this research to better understand the complications and outcomes of arm lift surgery, indicates Dr. Knoetgen.

In addition to aesthetic benefits, arm lifts can provide functional benefits for some patients. Dr. Knoetgen explains that in massive weight loss patients, an arm lift can help treat rashes that have developed due to excess upper arm skin sticking to the skin of the armpit and chest. It may
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Contact: Lisa Lucier
newsbureau@mayo.edu
507-284-5005
Mayo Clinic
9-May-2005


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