It’s never too early for an arm lift consultation with Dr. Bernard Beldholm, FRACS — even while you wait for the private health fund waiting period to end. It’s smart to book a consultation ahead of time for many reasons. Keep reading to find out why!
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A common question post-weight loss patients ask…
Lindy writes, “I had a gastric sleeve surgery in January 2019. I have so far lost 53 kilograms, with about 25 kilograms still to go. My arms have always been a horrible part of my body, and I always wear cardigans or long sleeves to hide them. I decided that no matter what, I will be getting them done once I hit that goal and my private health fund’s waiting period is over.”
The question is: When should she come in for an arm lift surgery consultation?
As you will discover in this article, it may be a good idea to come in for a cosmetic surgery consultation well before the health fund waiting period ends.
Why come in early for a skin removal consultation?
The journey to get surgery after weight loss doesn’t happen overnight.
There is a lot of planning to do. Here are five reasons to come in early for an arm lift consultation.
Planning your arm lift can take time if you plan to have other surgeries
Many post-bariatric patients have multiple areas with loose skin.(1,2) The abdomen is usually the first area patients hope to address. (1) Some patients also want to treat excess arm skin with an arm lift .(1,2) Thigh lift surgery, a buttocks lift or lower body lift might also be considered. These surgeries don’t happen on the same day. They are typically spaced months apart and must be planned in advance.
If you are a candidate for an arm lift or other skin-tightening procedures, Doctor Bernard can help you plan out your surgeries. The sooner you come in for a consultation, the sooner you may be able to get the ball rolling — whether you plan to have an arm lift, tummy tuck or breast lift surgery.
You can come in for an arm lift consultation even if you haven’t reached your goal weight
The ideal candidate for an arm lift is at or close to their ideal weight. Even if you still have a few more kilos to lose before you’re ready for an arm lift, you are welcome to speak to Dr Beldholm about your surgical options.
During your consultation, he can let you know what to expect in terms of downtime, aftercare and costs. That way, when you are ready for an arm lift, you will already have a rapport with your surgeon and know what to expect if you decide to have surgery. Essentially, it is never too soon to start planning ahead or get information about your surgical options.
Your private health fund may have a waiting period
If you plan to use your private health fund to help pay for your arm lift, the process can be slow. You will need to submit paperwork from your surgeon, get price quotes, etc. The waiting period can take up to a year after you apply. The sooner you come in for a consultation and get the paperwork done, the sooner you may be able to schedule your arm lift surgery.
Private health fund rules
The rules are if you are using a health fund to pay for post-weight loss cosmetic surgery, the item number for the surgery must match the condition you are experiencing. For example, if you want to use your private health fund to help pay for your arm lift, you will need to meet the criteria for that specific item number to qualify for coverage.
At the consultation, Doctor Bernard examines the patient and determines if they are eligible to use the arm lift item number. Certain criteria must be met. For example, the patient must suffer from rashes and discomfort from loose skin in addition to cosmetic concerns.
3 rules for private health funds to pay for cosmetic surgery
The three criteria are that patients must have:
- Lost five BMI levels
- Suffer from medical conditions such as rashes and discomfort in the area to be treated
- Maintained a stable weight for six months.
Private health funds typically have a 12-month waiting period for patients that meet the criteria above.
You may need to switch to a different Health Fund, and that can take time
There are many Health Funds on the marketplace. It is essential to have the right coverage to qualify for financial help paying for surgery.
If you don’t have the correct level of coverage, they will not cover you for that item number. Some patients find they need to change their private health fund in order to get the coverage they need.
If you aren’t sure, Doctor Bernard will be glad to help. Simply bring your paperwork for the health fund to the consultation.
Early release of super
If you plan to use a superfund early to help pay for your arm lift, then you must apply to the ATO first. There is a lot of paperwork needed to qualify for early release of super. A consultation is one of the steps that must occur before submitting paperwork.
If you are eligible, Doctor Bernard’s office will provide you with the paperwork you will need to get approved. This includes a price quote.
You will also need paperwork from your GP (general practitioner). Patients must also get a quote from the hospital and anaesthetist. This process can take a couple of months. So if you are thinking of getting any sort of body contouring surgery that qualifies for early release of super, just come in.
It’s much better to come in early, know your options and then plan for it rather than wait too long.
Your arm lift consultation options
There are two ways to meet Doctor Bernard for an arm lift consultation.
You can come into the office to meet Doctor Bernard for your consultation. An in-office consultation has the benefit of a physical exam. This allows him to examine your arms and assess the quality of your skin to determine if an arm lift is right for you. You will also have an opportunity to learn about the cost of arm lift surgery, possible risks and have all your questions answered. If you plan to use your private health fund, he can provide the paperwork you will need to apply.
Many patients have asked, ‘Do you offer virtual consultations for arm lifts?’
The answer is Yes.
Since COVID-19 began, Doctor Bernard has been offering Zoom consultations to make it more convenient to discuss arm lift surgery.
This allows you to get all your price quotes, hospital dates and get your private fund sorted by Zoom video — all without having to travel.
However, patients must come in for a physical examination with Doctor Bernard prior to surgery. While video has been helpful for assessing skin removal, nothing beats a physical exam.
A surgeon cannot assess skin laxity on a video call as well as a physical exam. So a video consult is really a preliminary consultation, but it gives you and Doctor Bernard a good idea of the type of surgery you may need. After learning what you hope to accomplish with surgery, he will create a preliminary surgical plan. A future in-person consultation will finalize everything.
Video consultations have a huge benefit — especially for patients that live far away. As such, when the COVID-19 crisis is over, he has decided to continue virtual consults for interstate patients. For example, Patient X lives near the Queensland border. Therefore, she can choose to come in for physical consultation or a Zoom consultation with Doctor Bernard. Patients that live in Cameron, Perth, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Sydney, Melbourne, New South Wales, etc. will have the same option, even after COVID ends.
Patients often travel from far away to see Doctor Bernard. But they also want privacy. A virtual consultation is the most private way to learn about arm lifts and other skin removal surgeries since you won’t have to leave home. It also saves time on travel since you won’t have to come into the office.
How much does an arm lift consultation cost?
Doctor Bernard charges a consultation fee. You’ll only pay the fee once, even if you come in for more than one consultation. The consultation fee is non-refundable.
That is true even if you decide to get an arm lift, tummy tuck, etc. a year after the consultation. At that point, you’ll need to come in for a follow-up before surgery day. Follow-up consultations, after paying for the first consult, are free.
Types of arm lifts
Sagging arm skin is a common complaint for patients that lose a lot of weight. (3). Once the arm fat is gone, saggy arm skin hangs unattractively. This is both cosmetically displeasing and a source of discomfort with skin rashes in skin folds. (3)
The type of arm lift depends on how much saggy skin is present. Options include:
- Mini arm lift
- Full arm lift
- Extended arm lift
- Arm lift with VASER Liposuction
Arm lift pros and cons
Are you thinking of getting an arm lift (brachioplasty)? Here are factors to consider.
Removes excess arm skin and fat
An arm lift removes extra skin and fat that hangs on the upper arms. Arm liposuction refines excess fat, and the skin is surgically removed. When performed by an experienced surgeon, an arm lift can drastically improve the appearance of the arms from elbow and armpit. (4)
Reveals toned arm muscles
Removing excess skin and fat may make it easier to see the results of your hard work in the gym. Without extra skin and fat in the way, the existing muscles are more readily visible. After an arm lift, some patients are also inspired to exercise and make healthier lifestyle choices, which can further improve their physique and well-being. (5)
Lets you wear clothes you like
Lindy’s question mentions that she wears cardigans to hide loose upper arm skin after weight loss. This is a common complaint among PWL patients, both men and women alike. (3)
One of the main benefits of an arm lift is the freedom to wear what you like. Without all that loose arm skin, some patients are more inclined to wear short-sleeve tops that show off their arms, even though they will have a surgical scar. This can be a relief in Australia’s hot weather, especially for people that once hid their arms with cardigans and long sleeves before an arm lift. Finally, having more wardrobe choices could potentially make it easier to get dressed for work and social events.
One drawback is the arm lift scar
One of the biggest downsides of an arm lift is the scar. It is quite long. Patients with minimal excess arm skin are often concerned about scarring. People with a lot of extra arm skin are usually less worried about arm lift scars because they feel it is worth it to remove hanging arm skin. The scar heals well in most cases (6,7), but it will never disappear. Finally, a small number of arm lift patients develop raised or wide scars that may be cosmetically unacceptable. (6,7)
The arm lift scar usually isn’t visible from the front. With the arms relaxed at your sides, it may not be seen at all. Each patient is different, however. Doctor Bernard makes it a point to discuss scarring with you before you decide to get surgery. He feels it is important that patients know what to expect. This is how you get a good surgical outcome — without any surprises.
Is arm lift surgery worth it?
Now it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of an arm lift. It is up to you to decide. While you consider an arm lift, Doctor Bernard is happy to help advise you and answer questions.