Liposuction of the upper extremities

Published on 23/05/2015 by admin

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Last modified 23/05/2015

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Chapter 2 Liposuction of the upper extremities

Preoperative Preparation

Patient Selection

Patients with fat deposits in their arms are candidates for arm liposuction. Body mass index is an important factor in liposuction, along with general health. Morbidly obese patients who need bariatric surgery are not candidates for arm liposuction.

The classification of Teimourian1 has been generally accepted for esthetic deformities of the arm (Table 2.1). Besides Teimourian, other classifications reported by El Kathib2 and Appelt3 can also be used. While liposuction can be used alone in class 2 deformities, it can be used alone or can be combined with a brachioplasty technique in class 3 deformities.

TABLE 2.1 Teimourian Classification

Group 1 Minimal to moderate subcutaneous fat with minimal skin laxity
Group 2 Generalized accumulation of subcutaneous fat with moderate skin laxity
Group 3 Generalized obesity and extensive skin laxity
Group 4 Minimal subcutaneous fat and extensive skin laxity

Chamosa’s cadaver study4 on fat deposits supports our clinical findings. Fat deposits in the arms are mostly located at the posterior area. Superficial fascia separates the fat layer into superficial and deep compartments and the storage of fat occurs in each compartment. Skin retraction is better in superficial liposuction technique. When combined with the use of internal ultrasonic and laser systems, better skin retraction is obtained due to increased dermal thermal energy.

Surgical anatomy may differ in fat and thin patients. In fat patients, increased fatty tissue is observed in the whole posterior compartment, part of the brachioradialis, deltoid, triceps and, rarely, the lateral head of biceps regions. In thin patients, there is more fat accumulation in the posterior compartment and less in the brachioradialis and triceps regions. Treatment of the whole fat accumulation, more or less, is important for a perfect result.

Surgical Technique

Preoperative drawings are done while the patient is standing. Deformities will be evident with the upper arm abducted 90° and lower arm flexed 90°. Photographs should be taken from front and back in this position and should involve both arms together and also separately. Arm circumferences should be measured at the proximal and distal 1/3 levels of the arms. Anterior and posterior arm pinch tests should also be applied to the proximal and distal 1/3 levels of the arms.

We usually use liposuction in the posterior half of the arm to avoid the irregularities caused by circumferential liposuction and because accumulation of fat occurs in the posterior arm. Lesser amounts of fat could be taken from the lateral region of the deltoid and triceps muscles, brachioradialis and sometimes from the posterior region of the lateral head of biceps. The brachial groove in the medial arm and the groove between the biceps and triceps in the lateral arm should be marked.

The procedure is performed under general anesthesia. Sedation with local anesthesia may be preferred if only liposuction is going to be performed. Multiple procedures may be started under local anesthesia and sedation; general anesthesia may be administered if needed from the beginning of the treatment.

The techniques currently being used are the conventional suction-assisted lipectomy (SAL), the third generation solid probe ultrasonic-assisted liposuction system (UAL; VASER), or laser-assisted techniques.