My Arm Lift (brachioplasty) Complication Grew Serious

My Bariatric Life Health Guide
  • This sharepost is part of a series about total body contouring plastic surgery that My Bariatric Life underwent following massive weight loss.    

    Read My Bariatric Life’s Total Body Lift – Part 1: Why Did I Do This?

     

    It would seem that the fear of what could go wrong next in my plastic surgery journey, which I wrote about in a previous share post, was unfortunately prophetic. What I thought was a minor setback with my arm lift (brachioplasty) complication grew serious. 

     

    The webbing in my right arm that was restricting my full range of motion did not fully resolve over time. So in March of this year my plastic surgeon performed an in-office procedure called a z-plasty to lengthen the contracted skin. As I watched, he literally cut a “Z” below my armpit with a scalpel under local anesthesia in his exam room. I found it quite fascinating as I’ve never seen a surgeon operate on me (although medically-speaking this was not an operation). It did not hurt but the sensation of being sewn as my surgeon closed the incision was very odd.

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    It was most unfortunate that a few days later the z-plasty incision opened. My surgeon had told me not to lift my arm above my head, but I had a few clothing changes over my head during a photo shoot the next day. Add to that, a few days later the train I was on bound for Newark Liberty Airport was forced to let all passengers off at the bus depot to finish the journey to the airport by bus. The problem with this was that I had to lug my 50-pound suitcase all over the bus depot, up and down stairs, until I finally found the right bus. And I had to pull the suitcase with my right hand because I had my dog with me and he is trained to walk on my left. Being that he is a very tiny Boston Terrier and we were in a crowded city bus station, I did not want to risk to put him on my right and potentially have him confused and get stepped on or run over by passersby. So I believe these confounding factors placed a lot of stress on the incision. Later my plastic surgeon told me it had been too soon to have performed the z-plasty, that the tissues were not yet healed from the original surgery. 

     

    My surgeon’s physician assistant told me to keep the area dry with gauze and to not do any upper body exercises so the incision could heal. The incision did close but then it reopen. This closing and reopening happened four times and it took a good two-months for the wound to finally close. The limited movement of my arm did allow the incision to heal but it severely worsened the range of motion issue I had been having since I awoke from surgery in October. It got to the point of severity that it interfered with my daily activities — for example I could not hook and unhook my own bra.

     

    At it’s worst, this is how high I could lift my right arm over my head. Notice that I cannot bring it back against the wall, as indicated by the shadow behind the right arm, versus the left arm that is flat against the wall. Note the darkness of my arm lift scars; they are the darkest of all my incisions. 

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    An orthopedic surgeon diagnosed that owing to the webbing (contracted skin) I had developed somewhere between normal shoulder and frozen shoulder (adhesive capsulitis). Frozen shoulder is an uncommon complication from a skin removal procedure because frozen shoulder is a joint problem. However the contracted scar, which is a more common complication with a brachioplasty, had acted like a cast on the shoulder that restricted movement for all those long months and partially froze it. 

     

    I was beside myself with anxiety. What I read on the web stated that frozen shoulder could take years to resolve and sometimes the shoulder never returned to normalcy. 

     

    Find out how my serious arm lift complication was treated in my next share post in this series, “Therapy to Treat My Arm Lift (brachioplasty) Complication.

     

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    My Bariatric Life

     

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Published On: October 16, 2014