Improving Arm Lift Scars: Tips and Techniques for a Better Appearance

By: Dr. J. Timothy Katzen


By removing extra skin and fat from the upper arms, a surgical procedure known as an arm lift helps patients achieve toned and more youthful-looking arms. A brachioplasty, the medical term for an arm lift, is another name for the procedure. Even though a brachioplasty can have life-changing effects, people thinking about getting one or recovering from one often have concerns about how the scars will look. Although scars from arm lifts can be noticeable, you can help them fade and blend in with your skin over time with the proper care and techniques. We shall look at ways to improve arm lift scars in this extensive blog, giving you a variety of tactics to help you get the greatest results.

Understanding Arm Lift Scars

Before diving into arm lift scar improvement techniques, it's crucial to have a basic understanding of arm lift scars. Typically, arm lift surgery involves an incision along the inner arm. This approach allows your plastic surgeon to remove excess arm skin and fat. This incision results in a scar that will go through various stages of healing over time.

Let's talk about the development of an arm scar at the microscopic level.

On a microscopic level, let's discuss how an arm scar matures.

Scar maturation is the natural biologic process by which a wound or surgical incision undergoes various changes and improvements over time to become a more stable and less noticeable scar. This process can take up to two years and involves a series of biological and structural changes in the tissue. Scar maturation is a natural part of the healing process. The process does not eliminate the arm lift scar. This natural healing can significantly improve its appearance and texture over time.

Here are the key stages and factors involved in arm lift scar maturation:

1. Inflammation (Days 1-5):
- After an injury or surgery, the body's natural response is inflammation, which helps clean the wound, remove damaged tissue, and fight off infection.
The scar may appear red, raised, and slightly swollen during this phase.

2. Proliferation (Days 5-21):
- New tissue starts to form. A structural protein called collagen is deposited to strengthen the wound. Think of collagen as scaffolding to support the scar and surrounding skin. At first, the body is in a rush to seal the wound, so it pills collagen randomly into the wound. In this phase, the collagen looks like randomly arranged stray pieces in a giant haystack.
- Blood vessels also begin to grow into the wound, supplying it with nutrients and oxygen.
- The scar may still be raised and red during this phase.

3. Remodeling (Weeks to Months to Years):
- Over time, the excess collagen is broken down, and the scar becomes flatter and less noticeable.
- Collagen fibers reorganize and align more parallel to the skin's surface, improving the scar's texture and reducing redness. During this phase, the collagen looks like well-organized lines under the microscope.
- The scar may change for up to TWO YEARS after the arm lift or surgery.

In addition to the microscopic level, the is the "bigger picture." Here are three critical aspects of arm lift scars to keep in mind:

1. Scar Formation: Initially, arm lift scars may appear red, raised, and slightly swollen. This is part of the normal healing process. Over time, the arm lift scar will gradually fade and flatten.

2. Scar Location: The location of the incision varies depending on the extent of the arm lift. Common placements include the inside of the upper arm or along the underside of the arm, extending from the armpit to the elbow.

3. Scar Length: The length of the scar depends on the individual's needs and your plastic surgeon's technique. Longer incisions may result in more prominent arm lift scars.

Factors that accelerate or delay arm lift scar maturation:

- Genetics: Your body's ability to heal and the healing of scars on your arms may be influenced by genetic factors. Certain people might be more likely to develop keloid or hypertrophic scars, which are thick, raised scars. Some people might be more likely to leave pink scars for long. Pink scars are more common in people with fair skin who frequently have red hair.

- Wound Care: The maturation of arm lift scars can be significantly influenced by providing appropriate wound care during the initial phases of healing. Better scar formation can be achieved by keeping the incision from an arm lift clean, dry, and free from infection and listening to medical advice.

- Sun Protection: Ultraviolet radiation can exacerbate and darken scars. Wearing sunscreen or covering the scar can lessen the risk of sun damage.

- Scar Management: Scars can be managed and possibly made to look better as they mature using different treatments like silicone gel sheets, creams, or ointments. Medical professionals frequently recommend these treatments.

- Surgical Interventions: If the scar fails to mature properly or presents functional challenges, surgical scar revision may be considered in certain situations. Certain scars can be made to look and function better with surgical techniques.

It is significant to remember that scars mature in unique ways, and not all scars will mature to the same degree or in the same manner. Furthermore, while certain scars may never completely disappear into the surrounding skin, they can frequently become less evident with time and the proper treatment.

Let's now investigate how you can make arm lift scars look better.

1. Observe the Post-Operative Care Instructions

Following your plastic surgeon's post-operative care instructions, is the first and most crucial step toward improving arm lift scars. You can expect detailed instructions from your plastic surgeon regarding wound care, dressings, and ointments or creams. The purpose of these instructions is to reduce the likelihood of complications and maximize the healing process.

2. Control Your Scar Tension

Widening scars may result from excessive tension at the site of the incision. To lessen this, it's critical to adhere to the movement restrictions and refrain from arm-straining activities during the initial recovery phase. Further aiding in reducing tension on the arm lift incisions is wearing compression garments as your plastic surgeon prescribes.

3. Protect the Arm Lift Scars from Sun Exposure

Sun exposure can negatively affect scars, possibly increasing their visibility and having unfavorable effects. Sun exposure can harm an arm lift scar in the following ways:

A) Hyperpigmentation: Exposure to sunlight can result in hyperpigmentation, a darkening of the scar's color relative to the surrounding skin. This is particularly problematic because it increases the visibility of scars from arm lifts. The sun can stimulate the melanin-producing cells in the skin, causing them to produce excess pigment in the scar tissue. These cells are sensitive to UV radiation.

B) Hypopigmentation: Sun exposure can also result in hypopigmentation, in which the skin around an arm lift scar becomes paler than the surrounding skin. This is in contrast to hyperpigmentation. It can be especially apparent in individuals with darker skin tones. When UV rays harm the melanocytes (pigment-producing cells) in the arm lift scar, hypopigmentation results.

C) Widening of the scars from the arm lift: Sun damage can cause scars to enlarge or stretch. This happens due to UV radiation's ability to degrade the skin's collagen and elastin fibers, crucial for preserving its elasticity and structure. Damage to these fibers can cause scars to enlarge and lose their definition.

D) Raised and keloid scars from arm lifts: Excessive sun exposure can cause raised or keloid scars to form. Keloid scars are elevated, thick, and frequently go beyond the confines of the initial wound. Exposure to sunlight can accentuate certain scars and increase the likelihood of their recurrence.

E) Delayed Healing: Extended sun exposure may hinder the body's inherent ability to heal. The ability of skin cells to regenerate and repair can be harmed by UV radiation. UV radiation exposure can cause scar tissue to heal and remodel more slowly.

F) Enhanced Risk of Skin Cancer: Compared to normal skin, scar tissue is more vulnerable to skin cancer. The risk of developing skin cancer within or close to a scar increases if the scar is exposed to the sun regularly without protection.

It's crucial to take the following safety measures to shield a scar from sun damage and the risks that come with it:

A) Sunscreen: Cover the surrounding skin and the scar with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher. Reapply as necessary, mainly if the scar is in direct sunlight.

B) Cover-Up: To protect the arm scar from UV rays, cover the scar whenever you can with long sleeves or other clothing.

C) Steer Clear of Direct Sunlight: During the strongest part of the day, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., try to steer clear of direct sunlight.

D) Seek Shade: To reduce sun exposure to the scar, look for shade when you're outside.

Remember that protecting a scar from the sun is crucial not only for aesthetic reasons but also for your overall skin health and safety. Sun damage can have long-term consequences for scars and may increase the risk of skin cancer, so taking preventive measures is essential.

4. Apply sheets or silicone gel to the scar from the arm lift.

Many people find silicone gel sheets work well to minimize the visibility of scars, even surgical scars from arm lifts. These silicone gel sheets help reduce and promote scar healing through various mechanisms. Silicone gel sheets help scars in the following ways:

A) Preserve Hydration: One of the main advantages of silicone gel sheets is their capacity to preserve moisture around the scar from an arm lift. By keeping the scar tissue moist, this moisture helps keep it from drying out and becoming more noticeable. Well-hydrated skin is more elastic and less prone to hypertrophic or raised scars.

B) Softens and Flattens Scars: The raised or thickened tissue frequently connected to arm lift scars can be softened and flattened by applying light pressure to the scar using silicone sheets. By progressively lowering the scar's elevation and enhancing its texture, this pressure aids in breaking the scar's excess collagen fibers.

C) Lessens Redness and Pigmentation: Silicone gel sheets, especially for more recent scars, can also aid in lessening the redness and discoloration of scars. They shield the scar by covering it with a barrier to protect it from the elements and UV rays, which can worsen redness. The scar usually gets less red with time and becomes more inconspicuous against the surrounding skin.

D) Encourages Collagen Regulation: Studies have indicated that silicone gel sheets can assist in controlling the synthesis of collagen in scar tissue. Scars that are elevated or hypertrophic can result from excessive collagen production. By restoring collagen levels to normal, silicone promotes the development of flatter and less noticeable scars.

E) Reduces Itching and Discomfiture: Scar tissue frequently causes itching and discomfort. Silicone gel sheets can act as a barrier of defense, reducing friction and irritation to ease the itching and discomfort that come with having scars.

F) Lessens Tension: Silicone sheets can lessen tension around scars. Widening or raised scars can result from high tension on the healing scar. These problems can be avoided using silicone sheets, which distribute tension evenly.

G) Protection from External Factors: The protective barrier silicone sheets create protects the scar from dirt, debris, and UV radiation. This defense aids in preserving the ideal conditions for scar healing.

The following is an effective way to use silicone gel sheets:

- Clean and dry the scarred area before putting the silicone sheet on.
- Cut the sheet to the correct size to fully cover the scar.
- Take off the backing for protection and place the sheet directly over the scar.
- As directed by the product instructions, leave the silicone sheet in place for the suggested time, usually 12 to 24 hours a day.
- Frequently replace the silicone sheet in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions.

It is important to remember that, depending on the severity of the arm lift scar, silicone gel sheets function best when used consistently over a few weeks to months.

5. Scar Creams for Topics

Several over-the-counter and prescription scar creams are designed to reduce the appearance of scars. The main ingredient should be silicone. Silicone has been clinically proven to reduce the appearance of arm lift scars. Some silicone creams include Biocorneum, Mederma, Scar Away, and Scar Gel. Ingredients like onion extract, vitamin E, and hyaluronic acid are commonly used in scar reduction products; however, silicone is the best for scar reduction. Consult your plastic surgeon to determine which scar cream suits your specific scar type.

6. Massage Procedures

Collagen fibers can be broken down, and the overall texture and appearance of the scar can be improved by gently massaging the scar tissue. Apply an oil or hypoallergenic moisturizing lotion in circular motions over the scar, progressively applying more pressure as the scar heals. When in doubt, ask your plastic surgeon for advice on when to begin scar massage.

7. Laser Treatment

The Fraxel laser is one fractional laser therapy that can significantly lessen the visibility of scars from arm lifts. To create controlled micro-injuries or "thermal zones" in the skin, the Fraxel laser precisely targets particular areas of the skin. This is how scars are improved by Fraxel laser:

A) Promotes the Production of Collagen: Fraxel laser treatment causes controlled skin damage. The body's natural healing processes are triggered in response. The synthesis of collagen is one of the essential elements of this healing process. Increased collagen synthesis aids in the remodeling and smoothing of scar tissue, eventually lessening the scar's appearance.

B) Fractional Approach: Fraxel's word "fractional" describes the fact that each session only treats a portion of the skin's surface. The surrounding skin is unaffected as the laser makes tiny wounds in a grid pattern. Comparing this fractional approach to traditional laser resurfacing allows for faster healing and less downtime.

C) Diminishes Irregularities in Pigmentation: Scar tissue frequently exhibits irregularities in pigmentation, which can increase its visibility. Targeting the skin's melanin-producing cells, the Fraxel laser promotes collagen production and helps to even out the color and texture of scars. This can be especially helpful if a scar appears lighter or darker than the surrounding skin.

D) Softens Scar Texture: The Fraxel laser's controlled injury promotes the growth of new, healthy skin cells to replace damaged tissue. The texture of the scar becomes smoother and more in harmony with the surrounding skin as the scar tissue is gradually replaced.

E) Diminishes Redness: By focusing on the tiny blood vessels causing the red appearance, the Fraxel laser can help minimize redness in arm lift scars that are still red or inflammatory, common in the early phases of scar healing. This may lead to a less noticeable scar from an arm lift.

F) Minimizes Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars: Hypertrophic and keloid scars are thicker and raised compared to normal scars. Fraxel laser is beneficial in treating these types of scars. The Fraxel laser can significantly improve these scars' ability to break down excess collagen and promote healthy tissue growth.

G) Customizable Treatments: Fraxel laser treatments can be tailored to meet each patient's unique needs. The kind and extent of the arm lift scar, the patient's skin type, and the intended result can all be considered when determining the intensity, depth, and frequency of the laser sessions.

H) Minimal Downtime: Fraxel laser treatments usually involve less downtime than more aggressive laser resurfacing procedures. It's a convenient option for scar improvement because patients can return to their regular activities quickly.

To get the best results, several Fraxel laser sessions might be needed. The size, type, and individual response to the arm lift scar treatment all influence how many sessions are required.

Seeking scar improvement with Fraxel laser treatment requires prior consultation with a plastic surgeon. Together with discussing your treatment objectives and evaluating any potential risks or side effects, they will evaluate your particular scar and skin type and develop a personalized treatment plan to help you attain the best possible result.

8. Injections of Cortisone

Your dermatologist or plastic surgeon may suggest cortisone injections for raised or hypertrophic scars. Injections of cortisone can soften and flatten scar tissue, reducing its visibility. It can take several sessions to get the best results.

9. Micro-needling

Micro-needling, also known as collagen induction therapy, is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that can significantly improve the appearance of scars, including surgical scars like those resulting from an arm lift. Here's how micro-needling works and how it can help improve scars:

A) Stimulates Collagen Production: The primary mechanism behind micro-needling's effectiveness in scar improvement is its ability to stimulate collagen production. Micro-needling devices use fine, sterile needles to create thousands of microscopic channels, or "micro-injuries," in the skin. These controlled injuries trigger the body's natural wound-healing process.

B) Remodeling Scar Tissue: Scar tissue differs in texture and appearance from surrounding healthy skin. Micro-needling encourages the formation of new collagen fibers, which gradually replace the damaged collagen in the scar tissue. Thus, the texture and appearance of the scar become smoother and more closely resemble the surrounding skin.

C) Enhanced Absorption of Topical Treatments: During and immediately after a micro-needling session, the micro-channels created in the skin allow for better absorption of topical treatments. This can include serums and creams with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, or peptides that promote skin healing and collagen production. Often, these topical treatments are applied immediately after micro-needling for maximum benefit.

D) Improves Skin Texture: Micro-needling targets the scar's appearance and improves overall skin texture. It can reduce the unevenness and irregularities associated with scars, making the skin look smoother and more even.

E) Reduces Scar Redness: For scars that are still red or inflamed (common in the early stages of scar healing), micro-needling can help reduce redness. The micro-injuries created by the needles disrupt the small blood vessels responsible for the red appearance, leading to a less noticeable scar.

F) Minimizes Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars: Micro-needling can be particularly effective in treating hypertrophic and keloid scars, which are raised and thickened compared to normal scars. By breaking down excess collagen and stimulating healthy tissue growth, micro-needling can help flatten and soften these types of scars.

G) Customizable Treatments: Micro-needling treatments are highly customizable. The depth of needle penetration and the number of passes can be adjusted based on the type of scar, its location, and the individual's skin type and condition. This allows for a tailored approach to scar improvement.

H) Minimal Downtime: Micro-needling typically has minimal downtime compared to more invasive procedures. Most patients can resume their regular activities within a day or two after treatment, although there may be some temporary redness and mild swelling.

Progressive Results: Micro-needling is not a one-time solution; it often requires multiple sessions to achieve optimal results. The number of sessions needed varies depending on the scar's type, size, and the individual's response to treatment. Improvement is usually progressive, with visible results becoming more apparent over time.

10. Dermabrasion
Dermabrasion is a cosmetic procedure used to improve the appearance of the skin, particularly in treating various types of scars, including acne scars. It is a mechanical exfoliation technique that removes the top layers of skin, allowing new, smoother skin to regenerate in its place. Dermabrasion can help with scarring by:

Smoothing the Skin Texture: By removing the damaged and uneven top layers of skin, dermabrasion can create a smoother skin texture. This can significantly reduce the appearance of raised or uneven scars, such as hypertrophic or keloid scars.

Blending in Scars: Dermabrasion can help blend scars into the surrounding skin, making them less noticeable. This is particularly effective for superficial scars like those left behind by acne.

Stimulating Collagen Production: The controlled injury caused by dermabrasion triggers the skin's natural healing process, increasing collagen production. Collagen is a protein that provides structure to the skin, and its production can help improve the appearance of scars over time.

Reducing Pigmentation: Dermabrasion can effectively reduce the pigmentation changes associated with scars, such as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. This can make scars appear less noticeable.

It's important to note that dermabrasion is a medical procedure that should be performed by a trained and experienced dermatologist or plastic surgeon. The depth and aggressiveness of the dermabrasion treatment can be adjusted based on the type and severity of the scars being treated. The procedure typically requires a recovery period during which the skin heals, and patients may experience redness, swelling, and some discomfort during this time.

Dermabrasion is just one of several options for scar treatment, and its suitability depends on the type and location of the scars, the individual's skin type, and overall health. A consultation with a medical professional is essential to determine the most appropriate scar treatment approach for each specific case.

11. Camouflage and Scar Tattoos

Camouflage and scar tattoos are techniques used to conceal or improve the appearance of scars, particularly in cases where traditional treatments or surgeries may not provide the desired results. These techniques are commonly employed to make scars less noticeable or to add artistic elements to the scarred area. Here's a brief overview of each:

1. Camouflage Tattooing:

What it is: Camouflage tattooing, also known as paramedical tattooing, is a cosmetic tattooing technique that involves using pigments to match the color of the scar tissue to the surrounding skin, making the scar less conspicuous.
How it works: A skilled tattoo artist or paramedical tattoo specialist carefully selects pigments that resemble the natural skin tone. The tattoo is then applied to the scarred area using specialized techniques. This process can help blend the scar with the surrounding skin, making it less noticeable.
Applications: Camouflage tattooing is often used for various types of scars, including surgical scars, burn scars, and scars resulting from accidents or trauma. It can also cover up certain skin conditions like vitiligo or create the illusion of areolas after breast reconstruction surgery.

2. Scar Tattoos:

What it is: Scar tattoos, also known as scar cover-up tattoos or scar art, involve using tattoo ink to create designs, patterns, or artwork on or around scars. Instead of attempting to match the scar tissue to the surrounding skin, these tattoos use creative designs to draw attention away from the scar.
How it works: A tattoo artist works closely with the client to design a tattoo that incorporates the scar into the artwork or distracts from it. Depending on the client's preferences, the tattoo can be colorful or black and gray.
Applications: Scar tattoos are often chosen by individuals who want to turn their scars into meaningful and aesthetically pleasing designs. They are particularly popular for covering self-harm scars or scars resulting from surgery, accidents, or injuries.
Both camouflage tattooing and scar tattoos require the expertise of a skilled tattoo artist or paramedical tattoo specialist. The choice between the two techniques depends on the individual's goals and preferences for addressing their scars. It's essential to consult with a professional to discuss the options and determine the most suitable approach for scar concealment or enhancement.

12. Surgical Revision of Scars

If nonsurgical approaches don't produce happy results, consider having scar revision surgery. This entails making a new, more attractive incision and surgically removing the old scar tissue. Discuss this option with your plastic surgeon.

13. Patience and Time

It's critical to keep in mind that scars take time to heal and fade. The final appearance of an arm lift scar can take up to a year or longer. Continue your scar care regimen throughout this period, and have patience with the healing process.

14. "Embrace" Scar Concealment Methods

"Embrace" is a brand of scar therapy products made of silicone intended to help make scars look better. Embrace scar treatment aims to maximize the healing process of scars by combining silicone sheeting with tension relief. This is how it operates:

1. Silicone Sheets: Silicone sheets or silicone gel strips are commonly used in embrace scar treatment. Silicone is commonly known to be a successful treatment for making scars look better. It covers the scar with a microenvironment that lessens skin irritation, minimizes excessive collagen production, and helps keep the skin hydrated.

2. Tension Relief: Embrace's cutting-edge tension-relief technology distinguishes it from conventional silicone sheets. The purpose of these products is to ease the strain on the scar. A crucial element in the formation of scars is tension. Widening, raising, or keloid scars can result from high tension at the incision site. To reduce the stress on the scar, embrace products that employ tension-relieving techniques like "Active Stress-Shielding" technology. This is especially advantageous for scars on body parts with natural skin movement, such as the arms.

The way Embrace's technology relieves tension is as follows:

- Mechanical Force Distribution: To redistribute tension from the healing scar, embrace silicone sheets and apply a small mechanical force. By keeping the scar in line with the surrounding skin, this force helps to keep it from stretching or rising.

- Hydrogel Pad: An overlaying hydrogel pad is commonly included with Embrace products. By adapting to the natural curves of the skin, this pad evenly distributes tension over the scar and the surrounding tissue.

- Tension Monitoring: Embracing sheets are made to lessen tension progressively throughout treatment. This steady release of tension resembles how a scar heals, a gradual release of tension over time. Embrace scar therapy is appropriate for long-term use because of this characteristic.

3. Protection from External Elements: The scar is shielded from the elements by the embrace of silicone sheets, which act as a barrier against moisture, dirt, and UV radiation. This defense aids in preserving the ideal conditions for scar healing.

4. Hydration: Embrace's silicone sheets, among others, aid in hydrating scar tissue to keep it from drying out and becoming more apparent. Hydrated skin is more flexible and less likely to get keloid or hypertrophic scars.

5. Simple Application: Embrace's scar treatment products are made simple to use. They can be applied straight to the scar because they are self-adhesive. The silicone sheets can be used on different body parts because they are discrete, thin, and flexible.

It's crucial to remember that the best results from Embrace scar treatment come from a comprehensive plan that addresses scarring. Other interventions like massage, topical scar creams, and, in certain circumstances, laser therapy or surgical scar revision may also be a part of this plan.

See a doctor or dermatologist before using any scar treatment product, including Embrace, especially if you have concerns about a particular scar or underlying skin condition. They can advise on the best course of action for your particular circumstances and keep track of your development as you recover.
In summary

Like all surgical scars, arm lift scars can be made better with the proper attention, perseverance, and, in certain situations, medical interventions. Essential elements of scar management include adhering to post-operative instructions, shielding scars from the sun, and using silicone products, scar creams, and massage therapy. Additional options for individuals with more noticeable or persistent scars include surgical scar revision, cortisone injections, and laser therapy.

Keep in mind that everyone heals differently and that outcomes can differ. It's crucial to speak with your surgeon or a licensed dermatologist to create a customized scar management strategy for your unique requirements. By investing time and effort, you can attain a scar from your arm lift procedure that looks better and blends in perfectly with your skin, enabling you to benefit from the procedure fully.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.