Therapy to Treat My Arm Lift (brachioplasty) Complication

Patient Expert

**This sharepost is part of a series about total body contouring plastic surgery that My Bariatric Life underwent following massive weight loss.   ead  **** My Bariatric Life's Total Body Lift - Part 1: Why Did I Do This?**

In my last share post I wrote about how a minor complication with my arm lift had turned serious. To treat my condition, the orthopedic surgeon ordered occupational therapy with exercise and referred me to the shoulder specialist in the practice. The shoulder specialist, in turn, added physical therapy with Astym treatment and prescribed an ointment to increase blood flow to the site.

Astym is a therapy to restore healthy tissue and break down scar tissue. The physical therapist said my contracted scar looked worse than those she had seen on burn victims, and that the area was all bands of collagen scar tissue. I also had contracted muscles that were pulling my shoulder to roll forward. She would stretch my arm to increase blood flow and energy to the area, and try to smooth the scar tissue by rubbing over it with plastic tools to break up the collagen.

The twice daily stretching exercises given to me by the occupational therapist were so painful that I would get dizzy and nauseous when I did them in the early stages. It was too much for me to bear physically, and the fear of permanent loss of range of motion was too much for me to handle emotionally especially given all of the emotional hardships I had been through during my plastic surgery journey. But everyone, my plastic surgeon included, told me to push through the exercises. So I did.

**At it's worst, I could not lift my right arm above my waistband in the back of my body, compared to how high I can easily lift my left arm. And to get the right arm even this high was quite painful.  **

However, I told every clinician who was treating me that therapy alone would not be successful because the webbing (contracted scar) was still too tight and prevented full range of motion of my arm. Something need be done to release the contracted skin. What I was going through physically and emotionally, I cannot even describe. The shoulder specialist refused to speak to my plastic surgeon to work together as a treatment team to resolve my problem. My plastic surgeon said he did not know any orthopedic surgeons to refer me to for treatment. My physical therapist told me I did not need full range of motion in my arm anyway, unless I was a paper hanger. I felt I was on my own and grew increasingly scared and desperate. I was in crisis.

Learn about my next course of treatment for my arm lift complication in my next share post in this series, "Surgery to Correct My Arm Lift (brachioplasty) Complication."

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