Arm reduction surgery is carried out under general anaesthesia. The risks of general anaesthesia include deep vein thrombosis (clots in your legs – 1-2 out of every 100 patients) and pulmonary embolism (when the clot breaks off and spreads to your lungs – less than 1 in 100 patients). A pulmonary embolus can rarely be fatal. We take precautions to minimise the risk of these. Other risks of general anaesthesia include chest infection.
The risk of an adverse outcome after a planned general anaesthetic is approximately 1 in 100,000.
The risks specific to arm reduction surgery include:
Bleeding – If a collection of blood forms (haematoma) a return to theatre may be required to remove this.
Bruising and swelling – To be expected and may take 2 to 3 weeks to subside.
Infection – Relatively uncommon and usually treated with antibiotics.
Delayed wound healing – It is quite common to have small areas that take longer to heal than others. Rarely, larger areas of the wound may open and require dressings for several weeks until they are healed.
Scars – Scars are permanent. The length and quality of the scarring is the main downside to having arm reduction surgery. You will be shown images of the full extent of scarring including examples of poor scarring. It may take 2 to 3 years for the scars to fully mature and settle down and in a small number of patients scarring may remain poor.
The images below show initial poor scarring with subsequent improvement at 6 months.
initial poor scarring (results will vary from patient to patient)
Same patient six months after (results will vary from patient to patient)
Asymmetry – It is common to have minor degrees of asymmetry.
Under or over correction – We will always endeavour to remove the right amount of skin, but sometimes there may be some residual skin left. It is preferable to take less rather than more as removing too much skin will increase the risk of wound healing problems.
Numbness – You will have patches of numbness on the inner aspect of your arm, and most of these will recover over time, but it is common to be left with small areas that are permanently numb.
Revision – A small number of patients will require revisional surgery to deal with unsatisfactory outcomes or problems resulting from complications.